I think the Avs are struggling in multiple ways following their Stanley Cup run. A short offseason has contributed to injuries and mental fatigue. Last season’s team was resilient, but these Avs don’t yet have the necessary emotional or physical resolve. There’s still time to get their mojo back, but my concern is increasing.
— Matt, Big Sky Country
Kiz: When a hockey team goes from unbeatable champs to chumps that have lost their way, the problem starts with leadership. While injuries to Valeri Nichushkin and Bo Byram have hurt the Avs on both ends of the ice, know what all the stumbling and bumbling has revealed? Nazem Kadri brought the fire, but the real heart-and-soul of the Stanley Cup champs was captain Gabe Landeskog. On the eve of the championship series against Tampa Bay, veteran defenseman Erik Johnson told me his friend “might be the most important person in this whole organization.” Nobody in the Avalanche dressing room is more talented than Nathan MacKinnon, but the glue guy on this team has always been Landeskog. In his absence, the Avs have fallen apart.
RELATED: Send a question for the Avs Mailbag
Landeskog missing from the lineup is puzzling to me. He was injured last year, came back for playoffs and helped the Avs win the Cup. What happened after the celebrations? He looked pretty healthy at the victory parade.
— Dennis, inquiring mind
Kiz: The hockey code strictly forbids honesty and transparency when discussing injuries. It’s just another way the hockey code is outdated and stupid.
It was a massive gamble for the Avalanche to think Alex Newhook and J.T. Compher could fill the holes left by the departures of Andre Burakovsky and Kadri. The Avs should have used their defensive depth to make a trade for offensive help. You can’t ask the team’s five best healthy players to play 85% of every game and expect elite performances every night.
— Chris, Parker
Kiz: After inheriting big shoes from Joe Sakic, new general manager Chris MacFarland has tripped over his feet. He needs to make a bold move before the trade deadline March 3. How good would Bo Horvat or Jonathan Toews look in a Colorado sweater?
Here’s the standard NHL response to a struggling hockey team: Coach Jared Bednar has lost the locker room. The Avs just aren’t listening to him anymore. It’s time to bring in a new voice. I don’t know if that’s actually true, but this has been said year-in, year-out in hockey.
— Michael, asking the unthinkable
Kiz: After winning the Cup, Bednar isn’t losing his job anytime soon. He’s a good man and a solid NHL coach. Bednar’s work during last season’s playoff run was nothing special, though. Any coach in Avalanche history, from Tony Granato to Joe Sacco, could’ve won it all with a roster so stacked with talent.
Sports Columnists |
Kiszla: A $20 million salary for Sean Payton or Jim Harbaugh to coach Broncos? Sorry, but they ain’t worth it.
Mark Kiszla named Colorado Sportswriter of the Year for 2022
Kiszla: All it took to fix quarterback Russell Wilson was for Broncos to fire team’s worst coach in last 40 years
Kiszla: Why is linebacker Alex Singleton the MVP of tough season for Broncos? True love of the game never quits.
Kickin’ It with Kiz: Please don’t tell me Sean Payton isn’t good enough to coach the woebegone Broncos
And today’s parting shot is a nasty uppercut to the invincibility of the defending NHL champs.
Right now, the Avs are Rocky Balboa and the rest of the league is Clubber Lang. This team needs more than “Landy” and “Chu” back. The Avs need to find their swagger.
— JDW, stating his case