22 April 2012
A couple days ago, Avs President & Governor (and soon-to-be owner) Josh Kroenke gave an interview to Adrian Dater about the state of the Avs (Dater posted a more in-depth version here). In many ways I agree with his assessment. I think the identity of the current Avs team is "Speed, energy & youth." I also agree that, with the CBA status currently in limbo, it makes planning for the future somewhat tricky.
At the same time, this is the second time in five months that Josh has come across as an owner who doesn't think all that highly of his fans (which are also his customers). The first time he came across as contemptuous towards fans was in the last interview he did, on December 18th, where he calledAvs fans "spoiled". Then, in the Dater interview, this statement really stuck out in my mind:
"If I was a fan, that's what I'd be saying too, to throw a bunch of money at something too," [Kroenke] said. "When you're sitting at the other side of the table, you want to do right by your fans, but you also want to protect your team a little bit, especially in a hard cap system."
The rest of his interview he seems pretty smart, but this statement strikes me as tone-deaf. I understand that, as president and governor, he's privvy to information that I'm not. I do have access to the Internet though, and I have a pretty decent knowledge of how a hard salary cap works (it's not all that complicated). I don't want Avs brass to "throw a bunch of money at it" but I would like them to throw more than the bare minimum amount of money possible at the problem(s).
Having access to the Internet also gives me access to this February 21st blog post by Tyler Dellows of mc79hockey. The key graphic (posted below) is a record of every team since the last collective bargaining agreement.
I think one thing it's important to notice is that there's some correlation between how much money teams spend and how well they have done. Sure there are exceptions (Hello, Toronto) but the teams with bad records tend to be the ones who have continually skimped on salary. The more the Avsskimp, the more likely they are to finish towards the bottom of the standings.
So, when do the Avs finally start putting money into their team to build a winner? Well Kroenke had thoughts on that too:
"With a young roster like this, we decided to let these guys develop and then at some point maybe we might try to surround them with other guys if we can't fill those voids through the draft while our other guys are developing. But I think we have a really good pipeline right now."
(emphasis mine) That sentiment makes a lot of sense. Josh went into more detail in the expanded interview:
"I know Duncan Siemens is coming along, and Tyson Barrie, Stefan Elliott and Brad Malone. Guys like that, as soon as our hockey people feel they’re ready to make a contribution, then we could add other guys."
A statement like that scares me a lot. Duncan Siemens will be 19 at the start of next season. Tyson Barrie & Stephan Elliott are older (both will be 21 to start the season). It is not uncommon fordefensemen to sit in the minors until they are 22 or 23 (Niklas Lidstrom didn't make the NHL until he was 21, Duncan Keith didn't start contributing until he was 22). Does this mean the Avs are going to wait wait 2-3 seasons for these guys to pan out before filling the roster voids? It sure sounds that way. What bothers me most is that the avs don't have to jeopardize the future to improve the team in the short term. Sure I'd love for the Avs to, ahem, throw money at Ryan Suter, but there are other UFA Defensemen that could make an immediate positive impact (Carle & Jackman, among others).
And Ryan Brad Malone is the only winger Kroenke mentioned there, and that's because the Avs are wafer-thin at wing depth. realize the "Hockey's Future" rankings aren't always that accurate, but the Avswing situation doesn't look all that promising. And yet there are winger free agents out there that could help the Avs a lot next season. Aside from the crown Jewel, Zach Parise, P.A Parenteau, JiriHudler, & Andrei Kostitsyn all would help this team do what they couldn't do well last season: score goals.
As a fan I make an emotional investment into the Avs. By buying tickets, gear, beer, nachos etc I also make a financial one as well. I've waited patiently for the Avs to go through a rebuild and it feels like those investments are finally starting to pay off, and I think the Avs have the resources to accelerate that pay off. It would be beyond frustrating to squander that.