Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Avs Trade Scott Hannan; Acquire Tomas Fleischmann


After the Avalanche acquired Matt Hunwick from Boston yesterday, I speculated that this meant the end of either Ryan Wilson or Kyle Cumiskey in Colorado.

Turns out I was wrong.

Goodbye Scott Hannan. Good luck in Washington.

Hello Tomas Fleischmann, #14, 6'1", 192 pounds, Left Winger/Center, scorer of 23 goals and 28 assists last season.
The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the team has acquired forward Tomas Fleischmann from the Washington Capitals in exchange for defenseman Scott Hannan.

Fleischmann, 26, has tallied 10 points (4g/6a) with a +3 plus/minus rating in 23 games for the Capitals this season. In 2009-10, the Koprivnice, Czech Republic native set career highs in goals (23), assists (28) and points (51) in 69 games for Washington.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank Scott Hannan for his services to our organization and wish him the best,” said Avalanche General Manager/Executive Vice President Greg Sherman. “In Tomas we are acquiring a top-six forward who is only 26 years old. His addition will bolster our lineup immediately.”
The initial thought of giving up Colby Cohen and Scott Hannan (two semi-physical defensemen) in two days is mind-boggling. I was certain that this team couldn't get any smaller. Obviously I was wrong. Yeah, there was a definite need to ship one of the d-men because, as of today, the Avs now have eight potential starters (once Cumiskey returns).

For now, we're likely to see Joe Sacco roll with seven blueliners:

Liles, Foote, Hunwick, O'Byrne, Shattenkirk, Quincey, Wilson

They're certainly getting younger.

The newest addition to the Avalanche roster (sorry Mr. Hunwick, you only got that title for a day), Fleischmann was having a down year, with only 4 goals and 6 assists, on the absolutely stacked Washington Capitals.

The fans at Japer's Rink seem to like the move from Washington's perspective.

From a Colorado perspective, it seems pretty clear from Sherman's comments that he's focusing on improving the team RIGHT NOW. The Avs didn't address the need for a top left winger in the offseason and early on, they've suffered the consequences.

Due to these injuries, their hand has been forced.

Fleischmann is certainly intriguing. 23 goals is nothing to sneeze at. Last season, it would have tied him with Milan Hejduk for third on the team.

He is speedy but small, and he has never played more than 75 games in a season.

Fun Fact: Last year at the Pepsi Center, Fleischmann netted 2 goals

Only time will tell with these deals. They could end up biting the Avs royally. Hannan was a warrior, providing a lot of of leadership and solid defense in his brief period with Colorado.

I'll never forget the hoopla surround the signings of Hannan and Smyth a few summers ago. That experiment is over. Best of luck to #22 in Washington.
_____

Avs-Thrashers tonight. Will Fleischmann be in the lineup? If so, does he play with Stastny or Duchene?

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Avs Trade Colby Cohen


Slightly shocking news tonight as the Avs have acquired puck-moving defenseman Matt Hunwick from Boston for highly-touted Colby Cohen.
Hunwick, 25, has skated in all 22 games for the Bruins this season, tallying a goal and two assists with a +4 plus/minus rating. The Warren, Mich., native has appeared in 164 career NHL games, registering 45 points (13g/32a).

“Matt is another young defenseman who can contribute to our lineup right away,” said Avalanche General Manager/Executive Vice President Greg Sherman.
According to Hockey's Future,
Hunwick is a responsible player in his own zone. He is strong in his defensive positioning and decisive in reading his coverage as evidenced by his team leading +14 rating. He is an asset carrying the puck up the ice and is an integral part of Michigan’s transition game. On the power play, Hunwick moves the puck quickly and makes hard, sharp passes. His shot from the point is average at best.
So he sounds like another Liles, or Cumiskey, or Shattenkirk, or Holos.

The big plus for Cohen is that a) he had that killer slapshot from the point that the Avs have lacked since Rob Blake left town and b) he was the long-time defense partner of Kevin Shattenkirk, who is currently tearing it up with Colorado as we speak.

The two even combined for the game winning goal in the NCAA Championship two years ago: (Fast Forward to 8:57)


I really liked Cohen. He had a "mean streak" in his brief stint in the pros this season. Not to mention, the kid grew up in Villanova, PA. Shout out to Pennsylvania, here.

That said, Hunwick sounds like a competent player, and I have no doubt that this means Wilson or more likely, Cumiskey, will be out of Colorado by season's end.

We'll see how this plays out. Hopefully it's not another Johnny Boychuk-type fiasco.

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What Should the New Lines Look Like?

The injury list is almost too ridiculous to be taken seriously.

The names are huge:

-Anderson
-Stewart
-Winnik
-Galiardi
-Mueller
-Foote
-Cumiskey

The third highest scoring team in the league, the Avs are going be doing some major line juggling.

On defense, they're pretty much set.

Quincey, Hannan, Liles, Shattenkirk, O'Byrne, and Wilson

The debate between Jonas Holos and Wilson has already been covered. Are the Avs trying to showcase Wilson for a possible trade?

Or is Joe Sacco just making a huge mistake among a bunch of great decisions?

The forward lines are a little hazier.

Here's how I think it should look by game time:

Jones-Stastny-Yip
Porter-Duchene-Hejduk
Maudlin-O'Reilly-Olver
McLeod-Dupuis-Koci/Stoa

The top two lines remain dangerous. Yip will need to step up after a long stretch on the bottom two lines. The second line, in particular, will give opponents fits if Duchene is really starting to get his scoring touch back.

As for the third/fourth, it's all about survival. Olver has been having a great season in Lake Erie, and he probably deserved to start the season in Colorado, anyway. He should be called up.

Then the debate is probably between playing Koci and calling up the much maligned Ryan Stoa. How many more opportunities does Stoa get before the Avs dump him for a third round pick? Maybe one more camp - but this should only motivate him more if he does get the call.

As for David Koci - he offers nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Next Up

Atlanta. Winners of their last 5. An Avalanche win puts them 3 points behind conference leaders, Detroit. A loss could mean dropping to 11th or 12th.

Once again, it's all about survival.

Go Avs.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bettman, Daly, Among Speakers at Ivy Sports Symposium


Over the last 3-4 years, I've missed very, very few Avalanche games. This year, I don't have DVR capability so I have fallen a bit behind on my Avalanche current events.

The reason for missing last Friday's win against the Rangers is because I attended the 5th annual Ivy Sports Symposium at Princeton University.

The Symposium "aims to help students and professionals acquire invaluable knowledge about the business of sports from the most successful executives in the industry while also providing attendees a forum for debate and interaction"


My goal over the next four years is to position myself so that I will be able to enter the sports industry. I still haven't decided what that ultimately means, but this event gave me a wealth of knoweledge and tips, and presented a great platform on which I can explore my options and meet people who are living the life that I aspire to live.


The speakers at the event, which consisted of various roundtable disucssions ranging from "Athlete Marketing and Representation" to "Ownership and Finance" were as diverse as they are influential in their respective fields.


Hockey fans will recognize Commissioner Gary Bettman - who participated in the Keynote Roundtable - and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly as two of the most influential names on the speaker list.


It was an exciting day that started with the Keynote Roundtable at 10 in the morning. The moderator, David Falk (Michael Jordan's agent in the 90s) was joined by Bettman, Harvey Schiller and Peter Moore (President of EA Sports) in a discussion on lockouts, revenue sharing, paying college athletes, and more.

The first question posed to Bettman? You guessed it.

Will there be another lockout?

Bettman: "I don't know"

Much of the early part of the discussion focused on Bettman, as he defended the NHL's decision to shut its doors in 2004-05.

Bettman: "If you're going to have a work stoppage, you better fix your problems"

Bettman mentioned that the NHL is the only business to close for an entire year and live to tell about it.

"If you have problems, you better address them because they're only going to get worse.

Falk then asked, Did the Lockout work in hockey?

Peter Moore gave his perspective and, based on the numbers, "business has grown."

"[The NHL] fan base is the deepest and most-connected and is by far the most engaged of all [our] franchises, including Madden and FIFA."

Moore stated that EA is "much better off from the lockout as a licensee."

To all of this, Bettman jokingly responded, "Maybe we should re-negotiate."

The discussion shifted to the intercollegiate landscape.

Bettman made it clear that he wished that there were more D1 hockey teams because it helps with development.

When it came time to answer questions from the audience, the following was posed to Bettman:

What advice would you give to David Stern? (Commissioner David Stern of the NBA)

Bettman: "Try to make a deal, a fair deal that works for both sides, without a work stoppage."

"...must identity problems - don't make a deal for the sake of making a deal."

"...it sells fans short if you make a deal just to avoid a work stoppage"


On Bloggers:

My head definitely perked up a bit when someone asked about the role of the media in labor negotiations. Bettman expressed his concern that once something is blogged, it gets repeated and repeated, but the original blog wasn't factual in the first place.

Bettman: "The NHL doesn't have to rely on media"

He pointed out that he has his own radio show, where he can talk about whatever he wants and howeve he wants.

Bettman's Money Line:

"Hockey fans are the most intelligent, most affluent, and most tech-savvy."

Overall Thoughts: The hour or so discussion tried to put Bettman on the defensive with regards to the lockout. He's an exceptionally capable speaker and was able to lighten the roundtable considerably. He and Harvey Schiller had a couple nice jabs at each other.

After a couple lunch presentations, I chose to attend the "Athlete Marketing and Representation" roundtable which featured a lot of high-powered agents, but very little hockey talk.

The same held true for the "Marketing Agencies" roundtable which included Michael Levine of CAA sports, the company that represents Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and the Sedins (among others).

Then the roundtable I was most looking forward to - "Leagues."

The panel had a representative from each of the four major sports (minus football due to a last minute cancellation by Mark Waller, the Chief Marketing Officer of the NFL).

Led by Tom Van Riper of Forbes Inc., Bill Daly, Bob Bowman (President and Chief Executive Officer of Advanced Media for Major League Baseball) and Joel Litvin (President of League Operations for the National Basketball Association) discussed the various issues facing each of their leagues.

I'll focus on Daly's answers:

Biggest issues with CBAs and Labor (outside of the obvious)

Daly discussed the advantage that the NHL has by having two more years to negotiate a new CBA. It is beneficial because they can watch the NFL go first. The "NHL will step back and observe how those negotiations play out." He referenced (eventual) new leader of the NHLPA, Donald Fehr, and how Fehr has made a career out of resisting salary caps.

Daly also mentioned that Fehr is very similar to former NHLPA Executive Director, Bob Goodenow. He pointed out that players currently get 57% of hockey revenue and that, from a player's perspective, the salary cap has been "a good system" and that the "average salary has increased."

On Digital Media

Daly followed Bob Bowman's answer about MLB's various live streaming and video options by talking about NHL GameCenter. He also asserted that "Digital media is one of the most important and most dynamic aspects" (especially in the NHL).

He discussed the decision of the NHL Board of Governors to invest in controlling each club's website and briefly explained about the dispute between the NHL and New York Rangers, who were the one team to vote against the Board of Governors.

On Domestic Expansion

Daly's money line was opening up his answer by explaining that he had just gotten a text on his Blackberry telling him that the league was planning on adding teams in Winnipeg and Southern Ontario. (HE WAS JOKING!)

In all seriousness, he flat-out said that the NHL had "no plans" for expanding.

On the possibility of relocation, he mentioned that the NHL has been stable, that they haven't expanded in 15 or so years. The NHL "takes seriously the commitment of fans and cities."

Without naming names, he went over the public litigation that ensued over Jim Balsillie's attempt to buy and move the Coyotes. He also announced that the "NHL is moving towards an ownership transition to give Phoenix a local owner."

Bob Bowman praised the NHL for doing a "terrific job" in the Balsillie case.

On Overseas Expansion

Daly bluntly said that the NHL is "not prepared to add European franchises" (at least in the near future). He did express that it COULD happen one day and that a large amount of traffic to NHL.com is from Europe. He mostly expressed that the NHL's interest lies in exposing Europe to the NHL game.

On the length of seasons

Daly and the others kept their answers short on this one. Leading up to the lockout, there had been some internal talk of a "play-in" round for the bottom two seeds in each conference, but that mostly was about generating additional revenue before the lockout. Since the lockout occurred, there has been NO talk.

On the Olympics

Daly provided background on the league's Olympic history - about the fact that the NHL currently shuts down the league for two or three weeks in the middle of the season. They started going in 1998 and for three times since then, have had differing experiences each time.

There are a lot of factors to the Olympic decision. Last year, 170 players were sent from the NHL.

YES, it's a great way to showcase hockey; but Daly expressed concern that there is no brand id with the NHL. The NHL has not seen a "tangible benefit from shutting down."

He mentioned that the clubs are "not keen on it" either. (Lost revenue at the busiest time of the season, possible injuries to players, etc)

There will be an agreement in the next CBA.

Highlight of my Day

As much as this event was about roundtable discussions between some of the industry's biggest names, it was also about networking and giving students the chance to talk to these "big names."

After his discussion, Daly made himself available in the hallway to shake hands and answer questions from a long line of students.

When I finally got my chance, I asked him how he would respond to a die-hard NHL fan's proposal that the NHL should let its players go to the Olympics, because the NHL owes it to its fans (who have stuck with the league pre and post-lockout) to allow for a competition every four years that showcases the best players in the world competing against one another.

As I told him, I understand that there are some definite disadvantages for the league, but after awhile, it can't all be about the money.

He responded by basically saying that the fan's opinion is extremely important, but it's not necessarily as clear cut as I was putting it (that most die-hards want the players to go).

I understand his point. There are a lot of hockey fans out there who already think the season is too long and ends too late. These are also the fans who want to cancel the All Star Game.

But the Olympics has provided lasting legacies for so many NHL players. Every true NHL fan knows about Peter Forsberg's postage stamp or Dominik Hasek's miraculous shootout performance against Canada in 1998. Even last winter, Ryan Miller became an instantly recognizable name in America because of his Olympic heroics.

By not allowing NHL players to play for their countries, the NHL is effectively ensuring that its own fans won't watch hockey in the Olympics (and this probably means no one else will either). How is that good for the SPORT of hockey?

Overall, I found Daly to be extremely personable and likable. (Mr. Daly, if you ever read this, I will absolutely accept a job offer)

The fifth annual Ivy Sports Symposium won't be the last, and I'm already looking forward to next year's event.

I believe that most of the discussions were video taped, so I will post links to the discussions with Bettman and Daly as they become available.

Until then, it's time to start focusing on your division-leading Colorado Avalanche, once again.

Go Avs and Go Hockey

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Duchene's First Career Fight



Was anyone else holding their breath throughout this fight? Last thing the Avs need is another injury - especially to one of the stars.

Looking for Marc Moser's call if anyone has it!

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Friday, November 12, 2010

DISGRACEFUL All Star Ballot Snubs


The NHL All Star balloting process is a joke.

Whether it's Montreal fans rigging the vote or guys like Rory Fitzpatrick having the chance to crack the starting lineup, the whole process is asinine.

Add a new chapter to the list.

The NHL released the names of the players to make the All Star ballot and Avalanche fans will notice a couple ridiculous snubs.

First, the three names of Colorado players nominated:

Anderson, Stastny, Hejduk.

Anderson is out and obviously won't be selected, but if you're going to include eighteen goaltenders, you have to make some questionable choices.

Stastny and Hejduk are second and third on the Avalanche in points respectively.

The Snubs

The most egregious name left off the list has to be Chris Stewart. Stewart is tied for third in the league with goals (10), only trailing Alex Semin (who also isn't on the ballot) and Steven Stamkos in that category. He currently sits twelfth in points (ahead of Stastny and Hejduk) and has three game-winning goals, tying him with eight other players for number one in the league.

Who is on the list instead?

Patrice Bergeron - 2 G, 7 A, 13 GP

Michael Cammalleri - 2 G, 8 A, 14 GP

Zach Parise - 3 G, 3 A, 12 GP (Although I guess someone from New Jersey has to make it)

Thomas Vanek 4 G, 5 A, 17 GP (And a beautiful -7)

I could go on, because Chris Stewart has been one of the best and most dominant forwards in the NHL this season. The fact that he doesn't have a chance at a starting position is ludicrous. If for some reason he isn't selected to the game at all, these cries will be louder.

John-Michael Liles

After starting out with an NHL record nine games with a point (all assists) to start the season, Liles has slowed down considerably. In fourteen games, he has eleven points (again, all assists) but this still puts him 13th in scoring among defenseman. He sits 15th in plus/minus, as well. He's certainly not a starter, but he deserves to be on the ballot.

Who's on instead?

Dion Phaneuf - 0 G, 4 A, -6, 11 GP

Mark Streit - WHAT GIVES NHL - HE'S NOT EVEN PLAYING

Seriously, Mark Streit is on the ballot. 0 GP, 0 G, 0A.

BRIAN FREAKING CAMPBELL: (See Streit, Mark)

If I'm John-Michael Liles, I'm sitting at home and wondering what drugs the people who put together this ballot were on.

Unbelievable.

The NHL can change the All Star Game all it wants. The new format promises to be exciting and intriguing. I love the idea of captains and a fantasy-esque feel to the game.

But it's stuff like this that irks me. We watch these young guys like Stewart or these now-sort-of veterans like Liles put together nice beginnings to seasons, only to not be recognized because the NHL decides they want the name recognition of a Brian Campbell or Mark Streit or Zach Parise.

It's write-in ballot time.

Vote Stewart. Vote Liles.

Go Avs.


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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Avalanche Trade for O'Byrne; Bournival Heading Other Way

O’Byrne, 26, has skated in three games for the Canadiens this season, tallying no points and four penalty minutes. The 6-foot-5, 234-pound defenseman was Montreal’s third-round pick (79th overall) in the 2003 Entry Draft. He dressed in a career-high 55 games during the 2009-10 season (1g/3a) and also appeared in 13 of Montreal’s 19 playoff contests.

On Bournival: he was Colorado's third round pick in the 2010 Entry Draft.

Hockey's Future has this to say:
Possesses the ability to play in all three zones and a no-quit, win at any cost attitude. Bournival might not be the most talented player available, but his work ethic and dedication will help ensure that he becomes a viable NHL prospect.
In other words, he's pretty much like every other Avalanche player. The organization has been drafting guys with "work ethic" and "dedication in all three zones" for years. That's why guys like Stastny, Duchene, O'Reilly, Yip, Hejduk, and Jones make up the forward corps.

Bournival certainly has potential, but it will be hard for any prospect to crack Colorado's top-9 in the coming years.

As for O'Byrne, he address a couple needs on the back end.

First, he's gigantic. 6-5, 234 pounds.

Second, he's a defenseman, something the Avs are ridiculously short of.

With the prospects - Shattenkirk, Holos, Cohen, and Liffiton - playing pretty well right now, it'll be interesting to see who sits and what this means for those who are injured, specifically Wilson and Cumiskey whose names appear to be on the chopping block.

O'Byrne has a cap hit of under a million, making him a perfect fit under current Avalanche management.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Peter Forsberg Reti-ATTEMPTING A COMEBACK!?

Adrian Dater is reporting that Foppa is going to give it one last shot:
“I will make a last, last, last try,” Forsberg told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, after playing in a charity game there. (the quotes are from the Google translation of the story).
“I’ll give a few weeks now and make a last, last, last try.”
Let's get over the fact that it isn't going to happen and assume that it does.

Is Colorado not the perfect fit for him? Forsberg's days at center are done, but he'd look really nice as a left wing to complement one of Colorado's scoring lines.

That said, I want Forsberg to go out with a little bit of dignity. It's time for him to hang 'em up and take his rightful spot in the Hall of Fame.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Future of Avalanche Defense

Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen

Coming into the season, the names were familiar.

Quincey, Hannan, Liles, Foote, Cumiskey, Wilson. Some of them have/had promise (Quincey,Liles, Cumiskey, Wilson) while others are seemingly on their last legs (Hannan, Foote) but Avalanche fans knew that a new wave was coming.

Thanks to an excellent job by the scouting department, the Avs have a bevy of defensive prospects in their system.

Shattenkirk, Cohen, Gaunce, Elliott, Barrie, Chouinard, Holos

Now, due to a ridiculous amount of concussions, Avalanche fans are going to get a taste of what the Colorado blue line is going to look like for years to come. With Foote, Quincey, Cumiskey, and Wilson all out, the defensive group against Calgary tonight will look something like:

Hannan-Shattenkirk
Cohen-Liles
Liffiton-Holos

Of course, I'm completely guessing on the actual pairings, but the point is, the Avs now have a young blue line to match their youth up front.

I think Adrian Dater made a terrific point in one of his latest blog entries:
But anybody who watched Saturday’s 5-0 Avs win over Dallas had to be struck by how much fresher the team’s defense looked with Cohen and fellow rookie Kevin Shattenkirk in the lineup. With the addition of just two guys, the Avs’ defense went from the stale, predictable unit to one that had youthful enthusiasm and, most of all, flashes of some great talent that, with more experience, should continue to grow.

One of the biggest complaints about our so-called "veteran" D is that they turn the puck over in the zone too often.

In other words, these vets were making rookie mistakes.

Another one of their downfalls - getting the puck (effectively) on net - is fixed by playing the youths. Cohen is notorious for his booming slap shot and Liffiton, in his brief stint thus far, has shown that he can let it fly as well.

They'll be tested tonight against Calgary. Without Craig Anderson, the Avs are pretty much putting out a B+ team.

Lets see if they can handle it.

Go Avs

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shattenkirk to Debut Tonight

Colorado's highly touted 2007 first round draft pick will make his debut with the big club tonight.

I can't wait to see what he can do for the power play. His defensive game will obviously be a little - uh, cringe worthy - to start out, but I have a feeling that Coach Sacco will limit his minutes unless the Avs have the man advantage.

Part of the future has arrived, ladies and gentleman.

Game time is 9 PM ET versus the Nucks.

Go Avs!

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