It's been a trying season for the Colorado Avalanche. The 2008-09 campaign will be the worst since the team moved from Quebec back in 1995. The franchise will finish below .500 for the first time since Mats Sundin's final season with the Nordiques in 1993-94.
They've also matched a franchise record of eight straight losses, something Colorado hasn't accomplished (if you want to make it sound like a great feat) since the 1991-92 season; and to top it all off, they've lost 15 of their previous 18 games.
The Avs may have reached a new low, but with the never-ending stream of injuries they've had to deal with since October; one wouldn't think they were entering the "Tank for Tavares" sweepstakes, would they?
On Wednesday, Denver Post columnist Adrian Dater blogged that after the Avs' loss to Phoenix, he heard a Coyotes official state, "The tank job is in, isn't it?"
While the likes of the New York Islanders and Atlanta Thrashers have been playing better hockey of late, thereby hurting their chances at a the top pick, the Avs have been stung by the injury bug so much so that I wouldn't be surprised to see GM Francois Giguere offer that homeless Washington Capitals fan a contract, just to help fill the roster sheet. The key injuries, which have hampered Colorado, weren't of the day-to-day type; they were of the week-to-week variety:
Adam Foote: 35 games, head
Ryan Smyth: out for season as of April, hand
Paul Stastny: 32 games, foot
Darcy Tucker: 27 games, back
Joe Sakic: 62 games, snowblower
Dater isn't a believer in an Avs tank job, stating the same injury cloud hovered over them during last year's playoffs:
"Now, I'll state for the record: I don't believe the Avs are or would ever intentionally lose games. It would mean instant, permanent infamy for anybody involved who got caught (hello, 1919 Chicago White Sox) and create a scandal of epic proportions. But that's not going to stop guys like the Coyotes official from thinking the Avs are tanking it, to get a better draft pick.
In the Avs' defense about all the sudden injuries: if you think they are inventing injuries, what were they doing, then, in the playoffs last year? They were tanking it in the playoffs, too? They had just as big an injury siege as now, and were playing for the right to advance to a Stanley Cup."
There is the possibility of change in the coming summer for Colorado. Giguere is on the hot seat and Head Coach Tony Granato was welcomed back behind the bench with a large groan from the Avs fan base. Rumors have been floated all season that former Colorado great Patrick Roy would leave the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and take the reins as head coach. (Thereby increasing the number of line brawls in the NHL.)
But as Avs blogger Jibblescribbits opined, it's time for Colorado to stop living in the past and take a step towards the future:
"The owrst [sic] part of this re-building process has been to listen to people talk about bringing back ghosts from Avalanche past to run the franchise. The arrogance it takes to suggest that only people associated with either the 2001 or '96 cup run are viable candidates to lead the Avs into the future is just astounding."
The Avs finish up playing five games in the final seven days of the season and will have plenty of youngsters in the lineup, giving fans a glimpse of what lays in the pipeline for the franchise.