"I'm operating under a budget that allows for a competitive team ... If you look at last year, we were probably $3 million below the cap up until the trade deadline, and on trade deadline, we spent almost $2 million. I'm a big believer that you need to leave some flexibility in your budget to be able to do things if things happen during the year. We're going to be spending enough money to ice a competitive team." -- Colorado Avalanche general manager Francois Giguere, Denver Post.
They watched their team break the bank for Ryan Smyth and Scott Hannan last year, before adding even more payroll at the trade deadline in the "getting the band back together" trade deadline shopping spree that brought Adam Foote and Peter Forsberg back to Denver. Yet suddenly the team is ... frugal? Terry Frei of the Denver Post writes that even after the signing of Wojtek Wolski to a new deal -- and if the team inks Joe Sakic, Marek Svatos, Cody McLeod and Cody McCormick to new contracts -- "the Avalanche seems likely to have considerable cap room remaining under the 2008-09 standards."
Enough money, one would assume, to spend now and spend next deadline. Which is why Jibblescribbits doesn't buy this "cap flexibility" argument:
Even signing a modest FA contract this season (And Federov, Peca and Morrison's contracts should be looking more modest with each passing day) the Avs should still have plenty of money for a Stastny extension and either Sakic's last season or a top UFA next season. That makes this season's thriftiness all the more puzzling. I don't think any Avs fan expected Hossa or Redden but I think we all thought we'd get something more than what we've gotten. (no offense to Tucker).
But the mis-management has gone beyond economics in Denver. Joe from Mile High Hockey, as astute an observer of this franchise as you'll find, doesn't understand its current direction:
What concerns me a bit is the changing "feel" of the Avalanche. Once a dynasty built on speed and finesse, it appears the new focus is on physical agitation and harassment. Darcy Tucker, Ian Laperriere, Scott Parker, Codys McCormick and McLeod, and wild card Per Ledin round out what could be the most annoying squad of pests since the Ducks won the Cup in 2006-07. While the offense still boasts names like Stastny, Wolski, Hejduk and Svatos, it's just not the dominant factor on the team anymore.
And this after GM Francois Giguere sent former coach Joel Quenneville on his way because his coaching style didn't reflect the fast-and-furious offensive tradition of Avalanche hockey. So, uh, what happened to that?
The euphoria of the 2008 trade deadline ended when the Avalanche were dumped in the playoffs. Now, while Joe Sakic contemplates whether he needs another 80 games of brutality, the Detroit Red Wings have added Marian Hossa to the mix. There's more than a little symbolism to that.