Colorado Avalanche: Organizational Issues a Reflection of Poor Ownership

Kevin GoffContributor IDecember 13, 2011

DENVER, CO - MARCH 23:  Stan Kroenke (L) along with his son Josh Kroenke (R) watch from courtside seats as the Denver Nuggets host the San Antonio Spurs at the Pepsi Center on March 23, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Spurs 115-112. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche have got to be one of the most frustrating teams in the NHL right now.

There is so much talent on this team, so much ability. The players are young, sure, but many of them have shown an ability to play beyond their years.

Most notably, Ryan O'Reilly, in his third year as a pro, and rookie Gabriel Landeskog.

How many organizations would kill to have the kind of talent that the Avalanche have with this kind of low payroll?

Yet, the Avalanche sit at the bottom of their division and, after three straight losses on the road to divisional teams, seem to be sinking towards the bottom of the Western Conference yet again.

The players remain inconsistent in every possible aspect of the word and the coaching has once again degraded to bag skates and line jumbling every night.

Fans are upset and frustrated that this team which has so much promise, and seemed to have finally turned the corner, is once again being weighed down by poor execution and mediocre coaching.

All of the issues that fans are seeing on the ice seems to be more of a symptom of something greater.

There is an old saying, "The fish stinks from its head." There is perhaps no truer example of this saying than the Colorado Avalanche.

The trout that is the Colorado Avalanche definitely stinks at the moment, and the head of this organization has never smelled as bad as it does right now.

A few nights ago, after an embarrassing home loss to the Dallas Stars, Avalanche beat writer, Adrian Dater, wrote this about how the Avalanche ownership was responding to the struggles the team was having.

What does GM Greg Sherman have to say about all this? Dunno, he hasn’t wanted to talk to the media lately. I’ve asked. Josh Kroenke? Ditto. It’s like Avalanche management has all retreated into the bunker lately, hoping not to be seen by the dastardly one or two people that actually cover this team anymore. I mean, can you imagine if these guys worked in Toronto or Montreal or Vancouver or Philly or New York? The media would be all over them for answers. But I guess in good old little cowtown Denver, they don’t really need to answer to anybody. At least, that’s the impression they give off too much.

It's almost as if the Avalanche front office refuses to own up to its own responsibility in this situation.

How do they explain things like the failed signing of Joakim Lindstrom? What about how Chuck Kobasew seems to be turning into this season's Brandon Yip?

Dater brings up a great question here, what if Greg Sherman or Josh Kroenke were running a team like Toronto? They would be hunted down in the farthest bunker that they could find to be asked what they were doing to fix the team.

In Denver it seems to be as easy as just closing the door, because the truth of the matter is that they are doing nothing to save the team.

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 23:  Head coach Joe Sacco of the Colorado Avalanche directs the team during a time out against the Vancouver Canucks at the Pepsi Center on November 23, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Canucks defeated the Avalanche 3-0.  (Photo by Dou
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

It seems that Greg Sherman has forgotten that he traded away the team's first round draft pick and that there is no solace to be had in a lottery pick this year.

A competent GM would realize that the team needed to at least push to make the playoffs so that the pick that they gave up won't land another team in the first five picks of the draft.

A knowledgeable GM would see the wheels coming off and know that some kind of move had to be made, whether that was a trade or some kind of coaching change.

There have been four coaches this season who have lost their jobs because they weren't living up to expectations.  Bruce Boudreau (the fastest coach ever to reach 200 wins), Randy Carlyle (who coached the Ducks to a Stanley Cup in 2007), Terry Murray and Davis Payne.

All of these coaches had great success with their respective teams, yet each ownership saw that there was a need for something to change and pulled the trigger.

In Denver, Joe Sacco remains at the helm and has got to be one of the most ineffective coaches in the game.

The coaching issue goes far deeper than Sherman being unwilling to make any kind of change when it's clear that the coach isn't getting things done, it's the overall philosophy.

The Avalanche absolutely refuse to hire from outside of the "family," so to speak. In fact, since moving to Denver, the farthest out this team ever reached was hiring Joel Quenneville after he was head coach in St. Louis.

Bob Hartley was hired from within the system, Tony Granato was promoted twice from assistant coach, and Joe Sacco coached in Lake Erie.

DENVER - 2007:  Greg Sherman of the Colorado Avalanche poses for his 2007 NHL headshot at photo day in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

Any front office should be able to look at what is going on in the system now and notice that some kind of change needs to happen, but the Avalanche refuse to look outside of their own system.

Avalanche blogger for Mile High Sports, Ryan Boulding, writes about this very issue in his latest piece as well.

There once was hope for change at Pepsi Center this season. With the Denver Nuggets all but locked out, the Kroenke empire had no choice but to invest in the once great but recently relegated Avalanche organization. Now, the Nuggets are back, and that means the Avs are on the back-burner again.

Which brings up the biggest issue with the Colorado Avalanche organization as a whole, Josh Kroenke.

Boulding even goes as far as to call Kroenke the "owner-in-appearance."

Josh Kroenke never misses a Nuggets game, yet may have just learned that the Pepsi Center actually has ice as well when he attended Peter Forsberg's retirement ceremony earlier this year.

The bottom line is that a team has absolutely no chance for success when the ownership doesn't care about the team; and Kroenke has done nothing to show that he cares about the Avalanche.

The Avalanche are essentially a forgotten team in Denver. Forgotten by the media, forgotten by many of the old fans now that the team has fallen on hard times, and forgotten by their own ownership.

Yes, there are troubles on the ice and with the coaches and several other places, but the fact of the matter is that the Avalanche will not get back to their winning ways until there is better ownership in place.


Kevin Goff is a Featured Columnist for the Colorado Avalanche and NHL on Bleacher Report. For more NHL news and discussion, 

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