Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Grab Bag

Hello! Here are a few short (yeah, right) comments on recent Avalanche-related articles and blogs.

In this blog entry, Dater keeps it short, saying that the Avs had a "bag skate" on Monday. Dater included video of this skate... which to me didn't look all that punishing, but unlike just about everybody else who seems to follow this team, I'm not a hockey coach, so if that's the way Sacco runs his practices, fine by me. As I've said before, I like little videos like this included in the blog, I think it's a great use for the All Things Avs blog and I would like to see even more of these behind-the-scenes vids.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Avs/Penguins coverage

Hello! Today on Grading Dater, we will look at the Post's coverage of the Avs-Pens game, in which the Avs lost the game 6-3, after the Penguins scored four goals in the third period. The Avs started strong while the Pens looked flat, and thanks in no small part to a magnificent goal from Duchene, the Avalanche had a 3-1 lead at the end of the first period. The Penguins then decided that they would play some hockey, and the second period was a dogfight, and by the third period the Pens' four lines had worn down the Avs' 2.5. Even though the Avs still played a tough game, the Penguins displayed why they're one of the top teams in the NHL.

First off, let's take a quick look at the "Live Chat" thing that Dater has been doing for the games he covers. Basically, it's a chat room where Avs fans can sign in and all type "damnit..." and/or "FIRE SACCO!!!!!!" at the same time whenever the opponent scores a goal. This is a chance to see Dater at his most negative and pessimistic, surrounded by others who are often just as bad. Although there do seem to be a handful of folks there who are genuinely interested in, and appreciative of, smart hockey conversation, it's still a very, very depressing way to spend one's time during a hockey game, and I'd strongly advise against it. It does provide a window on Dater's coverage of the Avs, though, and since it's on the Denver Post web page and it counts as DP coverage, Grading Dater is going to comment on the Live Chat this time, but we'll leave it alone after this.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Avs Mailbag

Hello! Here is the latest Avs Mailbag review. Dater seems to have stepped up on the toughness of the questions in this edition, although he still swings at a couple of granny pitches, most of these are a bit tougher questions that required a bit more of a thoughtful answer than some of the other early-season Mailbags.

The first question Dater tackles in this edition of the Avs mailbag is actually two questions for the price of one: both questions deal with the Avs current handling of the captaincy, which is to say that they don't have one, but rather are running three alternates out there every night. As far as I can tell, Stastny and Hejduk have been constant alternates, with the third one alternating among a number of players.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wings/Avs Coverage

Today, a look at the Denver Post's post-game coverage from the Avalanche/Red Wings match on November 8th, which the Avalanche lost 5-2, despite playing the game in somebody else's home arena. First off, the newspaper recap of the game:

Franzen is often caught daydreaming of playing the Avs.
In this article, Adrian Dater recaps the Avs/Wings game. In it, AD describes the Avs' effort as "Washington Generals-style road performance," which pretty well sums this game up, actually. He points out that the Avs' lousy PK led to two goals by Johan Franzen, who probably experiences nocturnal emission when he dreams about facing the Avalanche. Dater includes quotes from David Jones and Daniel Winnik, as well as coach Sacco... mostly standard "we've got to turn this thing around" sort of thing, but Winnik's quote about "peaks and valleys" in particular was a good one. This is a pretty well-done article overall.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dr. Brainsmart Goes to the Pepsi Center

Hello! Today I would like to take a detour from the primary focus of the blog --  bitching about the Denver Post's coverage of the Avalanche and the NHL -- and offer something new and exciting: my review of a trip to the Pepsi Center on November 2, 2011 for a match between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Colorado Avalanche.

Much has been made lately about the atmosphere at the Pepsi Center. Crowds for the Avalanche have not been great lately, and many have put a large part of the blame upon the marketing job done by the Avalanche... not only their efforts to attract people to the games with ticket deals and such, but in creating the atmosphere at the game itself. So with that in mind, here is my take on our experience at Pepsi Center.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Three Post-Game Blogs from Dater!

Today, Grading Dater will look at three recent post-game All Things Avs blog entries, all by Adrian Dater. The Avalanche lost the the Coyotes last week 4-1, to the Stars 7-6 in OT, and to the Flames last night 2-1.

Starting with the Coyotes game, Dater's blog can be found here, and it starts with what I consider a very promising paragraph:

I know a few of you probably have come here to watch me take this team to the woodshed. Yeah, there will be a little of that, but really I didn’t think the Avs were all that bad today really. I saw a team that put 40 shots on net, hit a couple of posts and skated pretty hard I thought. So I feel it’s a little hard to sit here and bash the whole team tonight, despite yet another home loss.

I often get a weird, confused feeling when Dater and I agree about something hockey-related. There's a dizziness in my head and a numb feeling at the tips of my fingers; I feel like I can hear the footsteps of insects within the wall; bright lights seem particularly sharp and painful; and I typically spend the next fifteen or twenty minutes handling inanimate objects to test their solidity and form, searching for a glitch in the Matrix.

Actually, I just realized that this description sounds a lot like a hangover... perhaps Dater and I agreed because one of us was drunk? At any rate, there's a lot to like about this blog. Only a few days ago, I wrote that I would like to see a loss like this one receive a "games like this happen" reaction from the Post, and whaddaya know, here it is!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Grading Mike Chambers

AD, the spotlight's off you today!
Yes, this blog is titled "Grading Dater," and for as long as Adrian Dater is the primary Avalanche beat reporter, it will stay that way. Besides, it's catchy in a way that "Grading the Denver Post" just isn't. However, Dater is not the only writer at the Denver Post who covers the Avalanche; Mike Chambers chimes in from time to time, and because the real goal here is to improve (or failing that, to complain about) the local media coverage of the Avalanche rather than to just rip on Dater all the time, it's time to give AD a break, and take a look at Chambers' work for a while.

I can practically hear Dater's sigh of relief from here!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Catching Up

Since the last Grading Dater post, the Avs have completed a great five-game road winning streak, and then come back to Pepsi Center where they have failed to win. At a somewhat surprising 6-4-0, they are in second place in the division behind the somewhat more surprising Oilers. When the Avs were winning, Dater's coverage was fairly good and upbeat, and once they came home and began to struggle, Dater Downer has been creeping back into the spotlight.

A pattern has emerged: Dater's "human interest" stories - often-brief articles about a specific player - have been pretty good, as seen here, here, and here. With these stories, Dater uses a detached, third-person voice to relay interesting (if somewhat low-density) information about a player or the team, and his gloom-and-doom persona seems to be locked far away where it belongs. 
A- (cumulative)

This game's over, folks!
When Dater is charged with a game write-up, things get a little dicey... that pessimist that dwells within him often takes over, with predictably Eeyore-ish results. In this article, for instance, Dater had already written a Sloppy Avalanche lose to Blackhawks article, but the pesky Avs went and won the game in a shootout and Dater had to start over. Problem is that he left bits of the original article in there (since edited out), making for a very confusing read. I know that mistakes happen, and I don't doubt that AD either a) has a deadline, or b) just wants to get home... but there is absolutely no excuse for submitting a sports article, clearly written before the game is over, reporting that the wrong team won.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Avs Mailbag 10/12

Today Grading Dater will take a look at the Post's Avs Mailbag from October 12, 2011. The Mailbag is Adrian Dater's opportunity to show off what he knows about hockey... in many cases, it ends up being a "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt" sort of thing, but lets see how he does this time.

Bright Spots and Lingering Concerns

First up is a question about Stefan Elliott, and whether Dater thinks that he "is the answer to the Avs' lack of offensive defense this season."

Dater is a sportswriter who loves to give his opinion on things. Oddly, he seems to repeat his opinion more and more the less sense it makes... I have to wonder if he believes that the more something is in print, the more credibility it receives. He's already stated a few times that he believes Elliott should be on the Avs roster, and here he takes this opportunity to put that opinion out there once again, just in case we missed it the first three or four times. I will not, however, take this opportunity to explain why he's so wrong about it for the third or fourth time.

Part of the problem here is that it's just kind of a stupid question to begin with... at this point, the Avs had yet to play their third game, and they'd scored but one goal. It was quite a bit too early to decree that the Avs had a "lack of offensive defense;" hell, it was too early to decree much of anything about this team. So this is a case where Dater picked a dumb question that really didn't deserve to be answered, just to give him the excuse to float his opinion on Elliott out there again.

The next question asks Dater whether the team did enough to address the defensive and PK issues from last season.  In an answer that kind of (but not completely) contradicts his last answer (in which he said Elliott should have made the team), he says here that with the bigger and stronger additions, the defense "definitely looks better so far" and wisely remarks on the importance of Kyle Quincey's return. 

He doesn't really answer the question on whether the Avs addressed the PK, he only says that he's "Still worried about it." A better answer might have been that of the Avs top ten PK minutes guys (as of the 15th, anyway), only three of them (Winnik, Quincey, and Galiardi) were with the Avs when they opened last season... everybody else has been added since then, four of them during the offseason. Looks to me like they did plenty to both the D and PK, and early returns are good. On what ends up being the best question of the bunch, Dater goes a bit too light on this answer; it deserved a more thoughtful response.

The third question deals with Forsberg entering the Hall of Fame, and wanders off into a discussion of Eric Lindros and Brendan Shanahan's chances for the HHoF. The question-asker favored Lindros over Shanahan, and Dater disagrees. I'm not sure what the questioner is thinking - perhaps he just can't see past an anti-Red Wing bias - but Shanahan clearly had a Hall of Fame-worthy career, and Dater agrees. 

I disagree with Dater's reasoning on Lindros, however... yes, his career was shortened by injury and he doesn't have those gaudy career numbers, but rather than having one or two great years and then fading away, Lindros still put together a string of seven or eight great, often dominant seasons. I was a bit surprised to learn that Lindros actually played in more NHL games than Forsberg. If Forsberg makes it into the Hall, Lindros should be right there with him. They were both among the very best players in hockey in the 1990s.

Next is a quick question about Joey Hishon. Dater answers equally quickly that he has a concussion and will likely be assigned to Lake Erie when the symptoms clear. This questioner could have just as easily Googled "Joey Hishon" and found the exact same information. Good answer, but kind of useless question.

Next, another brief question, this one addressing the pressing issue on every Avs' fan's mind: the goal horn. Dater assures us that the foghorn is still at Pepsi Center. This is two kind of puny questions in a row; starting to get the feeling Dater is just trying to pad this thing to 800 words.

Next is a question about the equipment managers, and whether they pack five or six jerseys for every road trip, or just take all the team's stuff to the laundromat. I suppose I'm just feeling cynical by this point after two silly questions, but really? Are there really people who care enough about hockey to wonder about that, who don't instantly conclude that arenas have facilities handy for washing the team's gear? Again, Dater gives a good, brief answer to a question that is just a waste of space.

Proof that Bell existed, and that he skated like he had to pee.
The final question deals with a recent Denver Post feature about the Avalanche's Top Ten Rookie Seasons. The questioner wonders why Mats Sundin's rookie season was not included. Dater's flip answer, "There's always a tough omission. Them's the breaks" leads me to think that Dater was the author of the list, and he'd rather dismiss the question than explain his choices. 

Sundin's rookie season with Quebec was a 23 goal, 59 point effort, which was a higher scoring output than six of the players on this list (all three Stastnys, plus Dale Hunter, scored more in their rookie seasons). This list included John-Michael Liles and Bruce Bell, for pete's sake... Bruce Bell over Mats Sundin? You screwed up, Dater. Just admit it.

Perhaps Dater didn't receive any decent questions this early in the year and needed to include some dumb ones to make it even worth printing, but that doesn't really excuse some of the thoughtless responses he gave to a couple of the better questions.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hejda Introduction and Treasure Hunt

Well, the bad news for Avs fans is that the Red Wings jumped to a convincing 5-0 lead against the Sens last night, before some late goals made the final score closer than the game was... and those Red Wings are heading to Denver for a game tonight. The good news for Avs fans is that the Red Wings had to travel across three time zones and gear up for a game the very next night, so maybe the Avs will catch them a bit out of breath. Those Red Wings are all old and soft, you know. Whatever happens tonight, it will be great to have hockey back!

And now, on to the articles...

Defenseman Hejda is feeling right at home with the Avalanche

The Geico caveman in his little-seen first role.
In this article, Adrian Dater gives us some information about one of the Avs' new additions, defenseman Jan Hejda. It is a well-done article that leaves the reader feeling that he or she has learned quite a bit about the Avs' new defenseman. Dater opens with a good intro to gain the reader's attention, and then proceeds to educate his reader about the big Czech. Included are quotes from both Erik Johnson and Hejda himself, a bit of history for the man, and a hint at the sort of game we can expect from him paired with Johnson as the Avs' top defensive pairing. Needless to say, the Avs defense went from speedy-but-undersized to freakin' huge seemingly in the blink of an eye, didn't it?

This article continues Dater's Jekyll and Hyde pattern of doing a decent (and sometimes, very good) job with the real-news articles for the Post, while simultaneously providing irritatingly banal, subjective, and often downright cranky offerings with his blog (and presumably, Twitter. I'm not even bothering with Twitter but I understand he's quite snippy there also). His recent blog entries have been biased, uninformed, and downright misleadingexamples of everything a journalist should avoidand then he flips the switch and offers a fairly well-done piece like this one.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Just like Titanic, Avalanche Without a Captain

Colorado Avalanche waits to name its captain

In this article, Mike Chambers does some last-minute housekeeping before the Avalanche start their regular season. The first bit is about the team's decision to go with three alternate captains rather than naming a captain. Much has been made, including in the comments for this article, by Avs fans of this decision (or indecision, depending on your point of view), but frankly I think it's 99% hot air. I don't think a team functions any better with a captain than they would with three alternates. Chambers includes a quote from coach Sacco to help explain why the Avs are in no hurry, and I agree. A team either has leadership or it doesn't...a cloth "C" sewn on to one guy's jersey doesn't change that in the slightest.

Chambers moves on to discuss the team's final roster moves, which included the reassignment of Stefan Elliott to the AHL, and the placement of three others on the IR list. Unlike Dater's blog entries about these moves, Chambers tells his reader about these moves without any bias or commentary (and without the misleading, uninformed, flat-out wrong stuff Dater threw in about Elliott being forced out to make room for Cumiskey). He finishes this line of discussion by noting that Gabriel Landeskog made the team. Chambers indicates on what line the rookie will likely be playing, and provides a quote from Landeskog as well.

Overall, this is a good, tight, and informative piece of newswriting. Chambers writes with a direct and objective style, which I admire. I read this article, and I have no idea if Chambers thinks having three alternate captains is a good idea or is completely stupid, I have no idea if he thinks Stefan Elliott should have made the team or if he thinks Matt Hunwick and Kyle Cumiskey suck, and I have no idea if he thinks Landeskog is going to win the Calder or fall flat on his face. I have no doubt that Mike Chambers has his own answers to these questions, but he doesn't tip his hand at all in his writing, which is one of the things that makes it so good. His goal is to inform, not to convince... and as usual, he does a great job of it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Local Reporter Surprised, Upset over Extremely Commonplace and Reasonable Event.

The Avalanche season opener is fast approaching, and the team has finalized its roster. This has led Adrian Dater to climb up onto his stump and declare that the Avalanche have made a "very...very, very bad decision" in sending Stefan Elliott to Lake Erie:

Stefan Elliott to the minors? Bad decision

In this All Things Avs blog post, Dater makes it abundantly clear that he thinks Stefan Elliott should have made the Avs' NHL roster and that the Avalanche front office is a bunch of nincompoops. He makes it equally clear that he would much rather sit around and gripe about the Avalanche with his fellow fans than to report on it like a... well, a reporter.

Elliott, pictured moments after the Avalanche began the plot to destroy his life.
Having predicted that Elliott would make the Avs roster ("take it to the bank"), Dater reacts with surprise here that he didn't, and takes his embarrassment out on the Avs mangement. Dater got caught in the same trap when he predicted that Vokoun would be the Avs next goalie... he makes a prediction, ends up being wrong about it, and then reacts (and reports) emotionally rather than objectively. An objective view of this situation reveals many very good reasons for Elliott to start the year in the AHL.

Dater took the same approach a couple days ago with the decision to send Tyson Barrie to the AHL... and just as he was then, he's just wrong, plain and simple. As good as these guys may have been, it's pretty clear they aren't going to break into the Avs' top four without an injury or two occurring, so why bury a talented young kid at the bottom of the NHL roster, rather than send him to the minors where he will get gobs of ice time playing against men instead of boys, and–just maybe–learn a thing or two?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Various Preseason Stuff - Hockey Coming Soon!!!

The Avs' preseason schedule is complete, and the Red Wings (and the rest of the NHL) await. Few things are as useless and tell the fan as little as a pro sport's preseason schedule, so I must admit haven't been paying a lot of attention to either the Avs or the coverage they receive... but here are a couple tidbits to carry us through to the start of the regular season, just a few short days away!

Kings rip Avs, new goalie Varlamov, 6-0 in preseason

Quick glove but slow feet, poor lateral movement.
In this recap of an Avs loss to the LA Kings, Dater goes out of his way to rehash the deal that brought Varlamov to the team before bothering to write that neither Varlamov or the Avs played very well in what he admits is a "meaningless" game. Pointing out that Varlamov didn't play well is fine, and there's no problem recalling the fact that the Avs gave up a couple high draft picks to get him. However, Dater has a history of placing way too much blame on the goalies he doesn't like, while turning a blind eye when "his guys" don't play well, and I hope this isn't an early sign that he's gearing up for that again.

Dater made no secret this offseason that he thought the Avs should get Vokoun, but instead they traded for Varlamov... and so while there's nothing in particular wrong with this article, the fact that AD took so much time talking about the goalie situation makes me worry that he's just priming the pump for a year's worth of throwing Varlamov under the bus. If the Avs are struggling after a few weeks and Dater is repeatedly pointing out how well Anderson and/or Vokoun is doing, we will have our answer.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Getting Back Up To Speed/Belak Coverage

Hockey is ramping up, with training camp beginning and hockey news starting to trickle back into people's consciousness. This is great news considering that the Rockies have left us for dead, practically begging for anything else sports-related to think about that won't include the words "Tim Tebow."  So, hooray for hockey! As hockey begins to get back up to speed, I hope to get back into my self-appointed and self-important duties of commenting on the Avalanche and the media coverage they receive.

Unfortunately, the hockey season couldn't begin without more bad news, from two continents: the sad death of former Av Wade Belak, and the tragic airplane crash that took the lives of an entire Russian professional hockey team, which included many names familiar to NHL and Avalanche fans. The loss of the Lokomotiv team is so huge that I am not going to try to combine it with my musings on the Belak story.

Belak and his daughter.
Adrian Dater broke the news of Belak's death to many in the region with this blog entry. In it, he gets an early jump on this story, reporting it when it was little more than a rumor, and due to the "scoop" nature of this blog there are very few details provided about Belak's death. Even so, Dater does a good job giving us a bit of background on Belak who, although he was only with the Avs for parts of three seasons, apparently made a positive impression on Dater, an impression which Dater relays somewhat sentimentally, but not distractingly so, to his readers (including the humorous revelation that, due to their similar appearance, Dater gave more than one autograph to Belak fans who would not believe his claim that he wasn't the Avs' enforcer). My only complaint about this blog is the way he casually ties all three enforcer deaths this summer (Boogaard, Rypien, and now Belak) together as suicides... but more on that later.

Monday, July 4, 2011


There has been a lot of activity on the Denver Post's Avalanche web page recently. After the NHL Entry draft, the free agency signing period began, and as expected, the Avalanche made some noise there, too... but not the noise that Dater expected. This will be short reviews of a number of articles and blog entries, so it will be fairly long... if you read to the end you get a gold star.

First up is an All Things Avs blog entry about the Avalanche goalie situation. The Avalanche entered the free agency period with no NHL goalies signed to their roster. In many opinions, the Avs had no NHL goalies signed to their roster in 2010-2011, either, so just about everybody believed the team needed to make a big splashy goalie signing on July 1.

In this blog entry, Dater predicts about as emphatically as one can that the Avalanche would sign Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun to a large, multi-year deal:

 If I were walking into a Vegas sports book right now and they had a list of NHL free agents and their likelihood to sign with certain teams, I would probably empty out whatever meager amount was in my wallet and put most or all of it on “Tomas Vokoun to the Avalanche.”

Regular readers of Dater's blog will recognize this as a sign to bet heavily the other way: Dater has an absolutely awful track record on predictions like these. For Dater's sake, I hope he realizes he should never walk into a Vegas sportsbook... but a person could do pretty well betting against Dater's lock-of-the-century predictions.

Tomas Vokoun plays dead to avoid the gaze of Avalanche GM Greg Sherman.
I'm not sure why Dater sees the need to make predictions like this in the first place. Just report what is happening... guessing what might happen is not really a reporter's job, is it? In fairness to Dater, he's hardly the only reporter that falls into the "I'm a fortune teller" trap, but he may be one of the worst at it. Yet, he continues to put what is left of his reputation on the line with bold predictions like this, and not surprisingly to anybody who follows his blog, he was dead wrong.


Since the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup last month, there hasn't been much going on in hockey. And of course, there hasn't been much going on with the Avalanche for a couple months before that, so it's been understandably quiet around here at Grading Dater. But with both the NHL Entry draft and the start of free agent signings both within the last two weeks, I think it's time to crank out an update. So to all the readers who are not my brother, welcome back! And to my brother: stop kicking pucks into my net!


As we know, the Avalanche selected forward Gabriel Landeskog with the second pick of the draft. I like the pick a lot... he fits the Avs' needs (a huge part of the Avs' defensive problems is that their forwards are way too easy to get the puck away from), and by all accounts is a kid of great character who's not afraid to step up into a leadership role. Plenty of people are still griping about trading away Chris Stewart, but I think Landeskog's combination of skill plus desire & character could make him a much more valuable player for the Avalanche than Stewart ever could have been.

I had hoped that the Avs would pick Adam Larsson, the big Swedish defenseman, with their lottery pick. As I said, I like Landeskog, but I see Larsson as being a much rarer type of player. He's a big, fast, skilled defenseman who's been playing in an elite pro league for a couple years. My view is that with a top-five pick, you want to grab a superstar-type player, and I see Larsson as much more of that type of player than Landeskog.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

End of Year wrapup

It has been a while since anything's gone on here at Grading Dater. With the Rockies hot out of the gate, and the Avs just going through the motions as the season mercifully ended, there just wasn't a lot of motivation to follow the Avalanche, or the Avalanche's media coverage for that matter. Sorry for the lag, but with Dater now starting his Player Grades, there may be a bit more to talk about before going on permanent summer vacation.

Here I'm just playing a bit of catch-up. Enjoy!

Apparently tired of the criticism of his shallow and blatantly unfactual draft coverage, Dater just goes with a data dump with this blog entry. It's nearly impossible to read, but at least he finally, finally got the mechanics of the draft correct, and actually mentioned all the top draft prospects and not just the two or three he heard around the water cooler. As we know, the Devils won the draft lottery, meaning that Edmonton will get the first pick and the Avs will get the second pick. Whoo hoo!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

All Things Avs Blog: Dater gets with the program re: the draft

After three or four previous blog entries dealing with the draft, varying from "poorly researched" to "just plain stupid," Dater finally decides to put on his reporter pants, and offers a decent overview of the upcoming entry draft, and how the Avalanche's  nearly-guaranteed top-3 pick can best be used to address their copious needs.

A few weeks ago, Dater blogged that the Avs had only two choices, really: the Swedes Larsson or Landeskog. This time, however, he has finally gotten around to doing some research, and includes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the list of top-ranked picks. Better very, very late than never, I suppose. Although we disagree on who the Avs should pick (Dater likes Landeskog, I think Larsson), I made many of the points in my March 18th blog that Dater makes here on April 1. Not that I'm going out of my way to point that out, or anything.

Props to Dater for doing his homework before posting this time. I don't expect the same level of analysis in the blog that I would in an article, so for what it is, this one gets a good grade.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

All Things Avs blog: Dater wants to see emotion out there, damnit!

In this blog entry, Adrian Dater offers his thoughts after another Avs loss, this one to the playoff-bound Nashville Predators. Dater mentions that Erik Johnson was upset after the game, and then states that he believes that the team needs a lot more angry guys playing angrily.

While I think it's great that Johnson was pissed off after the game, Dater doesn't seem to realize that not everybody is like that. There was a movie a few years ago, a chick flick disguised as a baseball movie, which worked in that it tricked me into watching nearly the entire thing (it had Drew Barrymore in it, for chrissake, but it still managed to get me). It wasn't bad, but I can't remember the name. Fever Pitch, maybe? Anyway, this Red Sox fan was living and dying with the team, like they do, and after a particularly tough BoSox loss they guy was just heartbroken, fuming and furious. And what did he see that night? Three members of the Red Sox, eating dinner after the game, laughing and having a good time as if the loss was no big deal at all.

The fan was upset and pretty much offended at this, but eventually it led to a bit of an epiphany for the guy about priorities, and he ended up running out onto the field in the middle of a game to give Drew a grope in front of everybody before Pedro told them to get a room. I can't really remember how it ended, to be honest, so I just made that last bit up, but it's probably a pretty safe bet.

Ranting Homer? Yeah, that sums it up nicely.
Dater needs to learn this: it's the fan's job to get all emotional about this game. The players see it differently, because they're not fans... and it isn't Dater's place (or ours) to question their desire to win just based on their demeanor after the game. Dater here is writing like a fan, not a journalist... which is perhaps his biggest fault (among many).

Ironically, Dater steps into journalist mode long enough to call out Cody Mcleod for taking a stupid penalty that hurt his team. The irony there, of course, is that McLeod's angry, hit-anything-that-moves attitude on the ice is pretty much exactly what Dater just said the team "needs A LOT more of." Make up your mind, Dater... you want them playing angry and with plenty of emotion, but when they do, you criticize the inevitable result? Doesn't sound like a very clear line of thinking to me.

Dater goes on to criticize management for trading away Shattenkirk and Stewart in the trade that brought Erik Johnson to the Avs... but wait, isn't Johnson the very same player that not three paragraphs earlier, Dater said was bringing exactly the right attitude to the team? Oh, I'm so confused...

He goes on to touch on just about every hot topic he can think of: the Anderson trade (shock!), the coaching, the ownership, Jay McClement... since when is a 4th-line center at the heart of a team's problems? Dater has himself so twisted around here, it's rather funny.

Basically, this is just another of Dater's fuming, unfocused complaints about the team not having enough fire and focus out there. Blogs like this occur about once every three losses, and they rarely say anything that the previous 50 did not. It's another cliche-filled rant about anything and everything, designed just to entice readers to click on the blog, without any real attempt to report, educate, debate, or analyze.

Dater substitutes cliches for knowledge of the game... which is why we get so many of them. It's just a bit uncommon for him to shoot as many holes in the bottom of his boat in such a short time as he does in this blog entry.


All Things Avs blog: Raymond Bourque, we hardly knew ye

In this blog entry, Adrian Dater takes the opportunity to reminisce about Raymond Bourque's long and distinguished career with the Colorado Avalanche. To be fair, Dater has often stated that he grew up a Bruins fan, so it's no wonder he has fond memories of Bourque. All Avs fans do, too.

Avs superstar defenseman Ray Bourque in a previous life.
Joe Sakic touching the Cup only just long enough to hand it over to Bourque is one of the best post-Cup moments I've ever seen. Yeah, he was a rental, but he was a rental for all the right reasons: he wanted (and probably deserved) to go out a winner, and the Avs needed the skill and presence he was known for to bring them together as a championship team.

My only Avs-related regret regarding Bourque is that the team decided to retire his number. A team doesn't retire a guys' number because he happened to be a great player who wore their jersey. A guy gets his number retired when he embodies what a team was for years and years. Raymond Bourque embodied the Bruins for years, and his number is retired in Boston for a reason. Having his number retired in Colorado, after just over 100 games with the team, is just embarrassing... a desperate attempt by a team with very little history of their own to associate themselves with a great career.

The Avs have enough great careers to honor that they should have left Bourque's honors to Boston. It's embarrassing that Borque's number is retired in two NHL cities, but Peter Stastny's and Michel Goulet's numbers are retired in none. Embarrassing.

But, that's just me going off on a tangent, forgetting about the blog itself for a bit. Apologies! As far as this blog is concerned, I don't have a big problem with it. While I don't care for a reporter placing his or her personal feelings about a player so prominently within his or her writing -- Dater's lovefest with Forsberg earlier this season is a good example of how badly things can get when a journalist is allowed to gush about his or her personal feelings -- when it's a retired player, I think the standard there can be relaxed quite a bit. And what retired player's story brings a smile to more people's faces than Bourque's?


All Things Avs blog: trade for a goalie?

In this blog entry, Adrian Dater floats the idea that the Avalanche should trade their upcoming draft pick for a goalie. One could argue, I suppose, that Dater is only "asking questions," but it's just a phenomenally stupid question to begin with.

Any time Dater starts talking about goaltending is a good time to ignore him entirely and go do something productive with your day. Because of his often-and proudly-stated biases involving Avalanche goaltending, his opinion is about as unobjective as it gets... and because those biases are the product of him not really understanding what makes a good (or a bad) goalie, his opinions on the matter are pretty much useless.

Dater starts by writing,

 OK, we all know the most glaring area of need going forward for the Burgundy and Blue is in net. Craig Anderson isn’t here to kick around anymore, and Peter Budaj and Brian Elliott have two of the highest goals-against averages in the entire NHL.

By beginning with "we all know..." Dater tries to present his opinion as the prevailing one. This is a common tactic used by high school debaters to convince the audience that everybody actually already agrees with the speaker. The problem is, however, that this supposed universal agreement Dater refers to simply does not exist. I'd argue that there are very, very few Avalanche observers who would say that goaltending is the primary concern for this team. Arguing that the Avs will never win the Cup with Budaj and Elliot in net is akin to arguing that I will never win the Indy 500 with the tires currently on my 4runner. Accurate, yes... but more than a bit off the point.

The "glaring area of need" for this team is: talent, health, and experience at pretty much every spot in the roster. Dater's assertion right of the bat that A) the team really needs a goalie, and B) that everybody already agrees with (A), is wrong on both counts.

Of course, Dater manages to work his tired opinion about Craig Anderson into this piece, as well as remarking that Budaj and Elliot have terrible numbers. Well, the reason they have terrible numbers could very well be that they play for the Avalanche... so again, the argument that they need a better goalie is kind of moot. They need a better team. A better goalie would be a band-aid on a head wound.

Dater then asks if the Avs should trade their upcoming pick - almost certain to be a top-three pick - for a goalie or goalie prospect. I suppose that just about any question is worth asking... but does that mean that any question is worth asking when you are the one print journalist assigned to the team?

If these Avs were contenders and they had the same mediocre goaltending they do now, then sure... trading a high pick for a goalie who could help them get over the hump might not be a bad idea. But the Avs are not contenders: they're rebuilding, they need serious help both defensively (not necessarily at defense, but with defensive-minded players, both D and forwards) and on offense, where their high-scoring team has ground to a halt. They've had a lot of injuries, and have had to fill spots with AHL-level talent, because there is not a lot of NHL-ready talent in the Avs system just waiting in the wings for their chance. They can address any number of these issues through this draft: the top three pick will get them a big, fast defenseman; a quick, high-scoring center; or a big, hard-hitting wing... all three areas in which the need is far more obvious and immediate than goaltender.

In short, not only is goaltender not the Avs' "most glaring area of need," but trading away their first-round pick in a draft with some nearly-NHL-ready talent to get a goalie would be one of the worst things the team could do for its future. One might expect some 13-year-old fan on the internet to suggest such a move, but to see the Avs' beat writer suggest it is just baffling, frankly.

Dater ends this experiment in stupidity by stating that the "best of all worlds" would be to sign Tomas Vokoun to a contract and let him come in here and suck while this team gets better. The problem with that, though, is that Vokoun is likely to be one of the most coveted free agents this offseason... why would he come to the dreadful Avalanche, and why would the Avs want to pay what it will take to sign him just to rise from "dreadful" to "average" for a couple years?

This blog is just a waste: a dumb suggestion based on a bad assumption that Dater treats as if it were gospel simply because it's his idea.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Disposing of indispensable goalies.

This is an article by Adrian Dater that starts off badly if you're a fan of the English language. Right in the title is the non-word "indisposable." It looks like it ought to be a real word, but it isn't. "Disposable" refers to something meant to be used and then thrown away, such as a plastic razor, a tissue, or a (non-cloth) baby diaper. The antonym of this word is "non-disposable." So even if Dater meant to write that goalies are unlike Huggies -- cheaply-made, single-use items which stink more often than not -- the word he'd want there is non-disposable, not indisposable.

Based on the context of the article, however, I assume Dater meant indispensable rather than non-disposable, as that word describes something that is absolutely necessary, that cannot be done without (such as oxygen, or beer). So not only does he use the wrong word, he's used a wrong word that doesn't even exist. But, headlines are not often written by the authors themselves, so we can't necessarily pin the blame on Dater here... but somebody at the Post (either Dater, his headline writer, or his editor) gets a big fat "F" right off the bat for grammar and spelling. It's one of the fifty largest newspapers in North America... there's got to be a dictionary lying around there somewhere.

This article deals with goaltending, so to be honest, before I even start reading, I'm skeptical. Dater, as do many novice hockey fans, spends a lot of time talking about goaltending without really knowing what he is talking about. It's like overhearing middle school kids talk about sex... they've heard most of the terms, and have a general idea on what's taking place, but as far as the details that matter are concerned they have no clue, so they just keep repeating loudly the few things they do know in an attempt to sound like experts, to the amusement of those who are actually getting some.

However, Dater avoids the nuts and bolts of the subject of goaltending here, which is both appropriate and wise. Instead, he starts off using the voice of Joe Fan, wondering about the Avalanche's goaltending situation:

 What are the Avs going to do about their goaltending? After all, it's the most important position in hockey, right? It's the one position you have to spend the most money on and devote the most attention to if you're a general manager, right?
Dater then points out that the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup with a goalie who wasn't their starter last year, and whom they did not bring back this year. This leads to the central theme of the piece: that goaltenders are not as vital to a team as many fans believe.

To boost this claim, Dater uses both the Blackhawk example and the fact that none of the other "final four" from last season are on the same team now as then. This is not entirely accurate, as Michael Leighton is still with the Flyers, but playing for their AHL affiliate. Dater also neglects to mention that the Blackhawks' decision to not re-sign Niemi, as well as the Sharks' decision to not re-sign Nabokov, were at least as much due to those teams' substantial salary-cap issues as they were to performance.

Still, the point is valid: teams do not seem to be placing a lot of importance (or money) towards their goaltending. The issue I have with this story, however, is that this is hardly a new development. Every Cup winner since the lockout of 2004-05 has featured a goalie who could hardly be called a superstar, while during that same stretch of time, the league's elite goalies (Luongo, Miller, Lundqvist, Brodeur, Nabokov, Vokoun, etc.) have had a dry spell as far as deep runs into the playoffs are concerned. Going back even further, The Red Wings have built a dynasty going back to the early 90s with what many would call average goaltending. As Dater points out in the article, the one time they spent a ton on goalies (Hasek, Joseph, and Legace), they were a disappointment in the playoffs.

So my question is not whether the days of the indispensable goalie is over, but rather if that day ever existed in the first place. The entire theme of the piece is flawed... but I will grant Dater a bit of a pass here, because the way he framed the question, he is simply addressing the perception that a team requires a top-notch goalie to be a contender, and in that respect, this piece effectively argues that this perception among fans may be incorrect.

This article then takes a detour from which it never returns, as AD discusses the Avalanche's options in net next season. He discusses a couple of free agent possibilities, the goalies the Avs have currently (without, I should add, any sort of slam directed towards his usual whipping boy, Peter Budaj), and prospects in the Avs system, ultimately deciding that a free agent signing or a trade seems to be the Avs' most likely answer to the goaltending question... an odd conclusion, after just having done a reasonable job convincing the reader that going out and getting a big-name goalie wasn't necessarily a step towards building a contending team.

All in all, this is a decent examination of the question of whether goalies really are "the most important position" on a hockey team, and whether spending a ton of money on a goalie is really a good investment. Dater includes quotes from a variety of sources, including Chicago GM Stan Bowman and Detroit GM Ken Holland, and refers to facts and previous results in order to solidify his point.

The issues with this article are the assumption that the "indispensable goalie" ever existed in the first place (sort-of negated by the way Dater framed the issue), and the fact that once again, Dater had a good thing going writing-wise, and derailed it midway through to go off on a tangent about the Avs' options in net, without really coming back to bring the article itself to a satisfying conclusion. This disjointed effort would have been better suited as two shorter, more self-contained articles, or as one larger article with an actual conclusion that would have tied together both the overall question of the importance of an elite goalie, and the specific issues facing the Avalanche in net.


All Things Avs blog: Fleischmann update

In this blog entry, Adrian Dater offers his readers a brief update on Tomas Fleischmann, whose season was cut short in January due to a pulmonary embolism. Fleischmann, acquired from Washington for Scott Hannan, thrived in Colorado and had a great chemistry early on with Matt Duchene.

I enjoy these blogs, with video of player interviews. As I have said many times before, things like this are exactly what a blog on a newspaper website should be used for. This was headed for a solid "A" grade, until Dater threw in this:

 It would be a tough blow to the team to see him walk away for nothing, which is why if I’m Greg Sherman I’m making it a priority to try to talk contract with him and his agent as much as I can until then. But I’m not Greg Sherman.

Once again, Dater lets the word "I" creep into his writing. There's no "I" in "journalism," Dater... except for that one near the end. If he wants to float the opinion out there that the Avalanche should re-sign Fleischmann, he could have written something like this:

"Fleischmann, who struggled at center with the Capitals, was moved back to wing by the Avalanche and provided an undeniable spark to the team with 21 points in 22 games (including six multi-point games), finding an instant chemistry with center Matt Duchene. It is unclear whether re-signing Fleischmann, an unrestricted free agent in 2011-12, is a priority for the Avalanche, but considering that the Avalanche are 4-21-2 since his final appearance in an Avs uniform on January 18, it would seem that his presence in the lineup cannot be easily replaced."

See? That's just as much "opinion" as Dater's was... we both think the Avs should make re-signing Fleichmann a priority this offseason. But in my sample, I let the facts speak for themselves, and I don't even have to mention "my" opinion... it's clear by the way I wrote it and the things I cited what my opinion is.

Dater, on the other hand, doesn't want to go through the trouble. He simply writes, "If I'm the Avs GM, I'd be re-signing Fleischmann as soon as possible." Blog or not, that's simply not good journalism... not only is there no objectivity there, there's not even the attempt to pretend there's objectivity. When you're at the bar with a couple buddies and you're talking hockey, that's the sort of thing one says. But when you're a professional writer covering a major sports team for a major newspaper, you have a higher standard. Dater fails to meet that standard.


All Things Avs blog: get ready for a surprise: Multiple Craig Anderson blogs. Hope you were sitting down for that.

In this trio of blogs, posted one after another, Dater revisits his favorite water-under-the-bridge topic of late, the Craig Anderson trade. Well, perhaps "revisits" is the wrong word to use, as some would argue he's never left this topic.

The first blog is an entry dealing with Anderson's four-year, $12.75 million contract with Ottawa.  Predictably, Dater starts off with a dig at the Avs' GM for not making a similar offer to Anderson after last year:

 Fifteen games is all it took for Ottawa GM Bryan Murray to offer the kind of long-term contract that Colorado GM Greg Sherman did not want to offer despite seeing him play 71 games last year and carry the team on his back to the playoffs.

Posing for Hall of Fame portrait, Oct. 2009.
It really irritates me when people give goalies this much credit. Carry them on his back? Puhlease.Was he a big part of the Avs' season? Certainly, he was... but the Avs' high-scoring offense was a big part of that season, too. At times, Anderson was very, very good last season... but at other times, he was decidedly mediocre. He had the sort of season last year that showed a lot of promise, but not the sort of season that makes a team instantly salivate over him as their Goalie Of The Future (nor one that gives a guy leverage towards a huge, multi-year contract as said G.O.T.F.).

I can only assume that the Avalanche did not want to stick themselves with another long-term contract for a goalie who had yet to prove he could be consistently excellent (such as was the case for Dater's last goalie-mancrush, Jose Theodore), and therefore made a two-year offer. Can't really blame them for that... Anderson didn't really prove as much last season as so many -- including Dater and, apparently, Anderson himself -- seem to think.

To Dater's credit, although he still positions himself as a "the Avs screwed this one up" guy, he does mention that the Avs actually offered Anderson more money per year than he got with Ottawa, and that only time will tell if the Avs, Sens, or Anderson himself made the best move. Overall, this ends up being a fairly balanced look at Anderson's deal with Ottawa and how it compares to what Colorado offered. Dater still loses points, though, for placing his opinion so prominently within what should have been a fact-based post.


The second entry is extremely brief. It is simply relaying a quote given by Anderson which can easily be construed as a dig against the Avs: “It’s about having a good fit and finding a place where I’m going to be happy, where players are treated with respect and the organization communicates with their players.”

Clearly, Anderson is saying-without-saying that the Avs do not communicate with their players, nor do they treat them with respect. I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I think Anderson's comment is a revealing peek into his attitude towards the Avalanche. This attitude -- which many fans (including myself) questioned at times, especially this year -- goes a long way to explain his poor, uninspired play in Colorado this season and his resurgence in Ottawa. Said attitude can also explain the Avs' reluctance to sign him to a long-term contract.

In other words, those of us who thought they were seeing signs that Anderson had "quit" on the Avalanche (which Dater has strongly disagreed with) now have what amounts to proof that they were very likely right all along. The Avalanche are lucky to be rid of this guy.

Dater used his blog perfectly here: he brings a quick, relevant bit of information to his readers with a modicum of personal opinion and insight. Although he speculates on how this quote will be received, for the most part he allows his readers to draw their own conclusions.


The final blog in the Anderson hat trick is Dater's opinion in reaction to Anderson's comments regarding the Avalanche. Dater says that Anderson "should have stayed classy." Here, Dater pretty much does an about-face on his opinion of Anderson, and starts listing the things that many others have already mentioned in questioning Anderson's attitude and dedication to the Avalanche.

One humorous aspect of this blog is the notion that Dater has any idea at all what "classy" might look like. Dater has told fans of opposing teams to "get the pacifiers out of your mouths." He has called Marian Gaborik "ugly but good," "a guy with a girl's name" (good one, Adrian), and said he had "the face and hair of a drowned rat." He has recently insinuated that Steve Ott is a crybaby for expecting that a blatant elbow to the head be considered for a suspension. He has called Cal Clutterbuck a "cowardly hockey player" whom his teammates hate. He broke any number of unwritten journalism rules tweeting about a closed-door shouting match involving Dion Phaneuf, and then (briefly) closed his twitter account because of it. And then, of course, there was his classic ESPN rant, where he calls out specific ESPN personalities by name, refers to them as "schmucks," and tells the network, in so many words, to shove it up their ass.


Back to the blog at hand. The thing that puzzles me about Dater's opinion here is not that he appears to have waffled somewhat on Anderson... I don't care for the way Dater covers the NHL, but I'm not going to rag on him for having one opinion and then changing his mind. Everybody does that. The odd thing is that Dater implies that Anderson, right up to the day he signed with the Senators, had been "classy" the entire time, and should have "stayed" that way. I believe there is another possibility here.

It seems much more likely to me that he's never been classy, and that this comment simply illustrates what Anderson had been all along: a pouty prima donna who thinks that half a good season is all he needs to be considered an elite goalie, and if his team doesn't agree then he's just going to mail it in until his contract is up and go find Big Money elsewhere. My guess is that the Avs knew long before Dater did what kind of person Anderson was, and were therefore not at all reluctant to trade him away for what amounts to a bag of pucks (sorry, Elliot. Prove me wrong).

In short, Dater appears to come around on Anderson without admitting he could have been wrong all along. Baby steps, I suppose. I'm not a fan of opinion so prominent in journalism (even when that opinion agrees with mine), so I'm not thrilled with this blog... but at least in this case, this entry is opinion through-and-through, rather than an attempt to include his opinion as part of the story.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

All Things Avs blog: a peek into Dater's sense of humor, and it's not funny.

In this very short blog entry, Dater seems to think he's doing his readers a favor tipping them in to a video somebody made about Steve Ott. The video looks like somebody spent nearly eight minutes working on it, featuring interviews with Steve Ott with a crying baby image poorly superimposed over Ott's image, and distracting music fading in and out of the background.

Dater, presumably high on something at the time, thought the video was flat-out hysterical, saying "I haven't laughed that hard in a while." I think I have a pretty good sense of humor, and I didn't laugh once at this stupid video. Didn't even smile. In fact, it made me like Steve Ott a bit more than I did before watching it, to tell the truth. The guy is freely admitting that he's been suspended before and that he knows he has a reputation, but he still wants to see certain types of hits get punished. Honestly, I think that's a pretty ballsy thing to say, and I don't really see why he should be called a "crybaby" for saying it.

If Dater thinks this is funny, I have to really question where the guy's head is at. Dater is known to have personal grudges against certain players, and evidently Ott is one of them, because only somebody who already hated Steve Ott would find this even the least bit amusing.

This blog entry gets an F. Since I feel like Dater tricked us into thinking we were about to see something humorous, I hope this actually funny "baby" video makes up for it:

All Things Avs blog: "Negative" right in the title, so at least we know what we're in for.

In this blog entry, Dater starts off with an update on Eric Johnson: X-rays are negative, likely to play Saturday.

The rest of the blog is scattershot bitching about the Avalanche. Typical Dater stuff, with no insight and no focus: the Avs aren't competing, guys look like they've quit (but not Anderson, of course!), they're going through the motions, they're playing for their jobs, yadda yadda yadda.

A couple years ago, there were ads for the NHL network featuring a coach who did nothing but spout cliches... that's Dater. If this blog was just some fan out there complaining that his or her beloved Avalanche are stinking up the joint on a nightly basis, then OK. But the Avalanche have one major media entity covering them, and this is what we get from it.

Dater closes with this:

By the way, here is how former NHL GM Craig Button, now a TV analyst, sizes up the top five prospects in the coming NHL draft. You might be surprised to see that neither Larsson nor Landeskog is his top pick.

A couple days ago, Dater made it sound as if these two were the only two guys worth considering in the draft. So yeah, if the only thing I used to learn about the NHL was The Denver Post's crappy blog, maybe I'd be surprised to see that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is ranked #1 by a lot of sources. But since I apparently spend more time reading and learning about the NHL than the Post's hockey beat writer, I am not surprised at all.

Should the guy who's job it is to cover the NHL and report it to his readers really be surprised at something that is common knowledge just about everywhere else (relatively speaking)? The fact that Dater is surprised is kind of the point behind this blog... Avs fans deserve better than this.

Friday, March 18, 2011

All Things Avs blog: grab bag

Here are a couple quick reviews of some recent blog posts.Nothing here requiring individual reviews for each, so I hope you don't mind me grouping them all together. If you do mind, go ahead and start a "Grading Grading Dater" blog, and let me have it!

In this blog entry, Adrian Dater offers a potpourri of Avalanche and NHL tidbits. Of note is an example of something Dater says that I totally agree with:

There are also the latest man-game injury stats in there, and how they compare to last year and a previous Avs season which currently stands as the record for most man-games lost. (I don’t like the term ‘man-games lost’ by the way. Sounds strange).

"Man-games lost" is just a weird thing to say, so I'm with Dater all the way on this. Can't they just say "games lost to injury?" No, they have to call it a man-game, which just sounds odd. "Man-games" sounds like some sort of Gay Olympics... but I'm sure the Gay Olympics would think of something better than "Man Games," because they just seem like they'd be pretty creative like that.

This blog is basically just Dater touching base on a number of different items, none of them Earth-shattering. This is just what a blog like this should be used for: small items nowhere near important enough to warrant an entire article, but still of interest to Avalanche fans.

My only issue is when Dater starts writing about the Chara/Pacioretty hit again. He tries to put himself in good company by writing:

The hit on Max Pacioretty was overwhelmingly seen by the objective hockey analyst as an unfortunate but all too possible result of a hockey hit.

First of all, Dater wouldn't know an objective hockey analyst if he tripped over one on the way to the bathroom, and so his attempt to include himself in that category simply because he shares their opinion is laughable. Second, although I have indeed read many hockey writers who have said exactly what Dater says, I have heard and read an equal share of opinions by those who know the game who have said that Chara's hit was not clean, and should have received a suspension. I suppose that support for your opinion may seem "overwhelming" when you ignore and dismiss everything that you don't agree with, but the response to this incident seems pretty evenly spread out to me.

Yes, an injury like Pacioretty's is possible in hockey, but that doesn't mean hockey fans should just shrug every time something like this happens. The game can be made safer... simply blowing it off as a natural occurrence of the game, as Dater is again trying to do here, is no way to address the problem. The fact that Chara is not a dirty player does not mean that this was not a dirty hit. It should have been punished as one.


In this blog, Dater asks his reader which Swedish player the Avalanche should take with their presumably high draft pick. There's almost nothing to this blog, just a video of each player. The only issue here is that Dater makes it seem as if these two are the consensus 1-2 picks, and that's just not the case. If Dater wants to entertain discussion on the upcoming draft, then why focus on only two players? Yeah, either of those guys would be a nice pick for the Avs, but there are plenty of other players that are in the top-five discussion, too. Odd that Dater focuses on just the two Swedes... perhaps he's still longing for Forsberg?

I personally think that the Avs should pick Larsson, should he be available. Nugent-Hopkins (currently ranked as the top pick by ISS) appears to be a very promising player, but the Avs have plenty of talent at center, both at the NHL level and in the minors. Landeskog looks good as far as character goes, and the Avs could use some size at wing with Stewart now gone, but it remains to be seen whether his talent will translate to the NHL... he's got a lot of potential, but he's not exactly tearing up the OHL. Larsson is what the Avs need: big, fast, defense, and probably ready to join the NHL right now. Erik Johnson gives them a great young player like that, but the only thing better than one big, fast defenseman is two big, fast defensemen.

Dater's defense to criticism here is that he doesn't offer his opinion, he just asks the question... but that's also the criticism. The fact that Dater skips the #1 ranked player completely, and focuses on these two makes me wonder if he's just doing his "I overheard somebody say these names and figured I should blog about them" thing.


In this blog entry, Dater announces that Adam Foote, having apparently accepted a coaching position next season, is almost certain to retire. In other news, Brad Pitt is handsome and there are no penguins at the North Pole. The only surprise would be if Foote didn't retire at the end of this season... I think even his biggest fans would admit that his last season has been one season too many.

I'm a fan of Adam Foote. He's no Hall of Famer in my book, but I like the way he plays: solid, stay-at-home defense with a bit of a mean streak; sticks up for everybody, leaves his heart out there. One of the best moments in recent memory for the Avs was him coming out of the tunnel in the middle of his first game back with Colorado, just plopping on the bench ready to play. But he was a poor choice to be captain, and he hung on one year too long... on a team full of mediocre defensemen, he's stood out as particulary mediocre. Hate to seem him go out like this, but it's time.

Foote hates adam's apples.
With Foote's apparent retirement apparently right around the corner, this blog deals with the question of who will be the next captain of the Avalanche. I happen to believe that way too much is made of who wears the "C" in hockey... it's just the guy who can talk to the ref. It's really not that big a deal. Dater lists a few alternatives, and gives his percentage odds of each becoming captain, reiterating his recently-stated belief that John Michael Liles will be the next Avalanche player to wear the "C."

I just don't see this happening... Liles has been dangled as tradebait for the last three seasons, he's rarely (if ever) even been given the "A," and I don't see the Avs doing an about-face and handing him the captaincy for this team. Dater's reasoning? "He cares." Oh, he cares! That sets him apart, doesn't it? So Liles has a clear advantage over... Tyler Arnason, then. Terrific.

Dater does do something rather remarkable along the way, however: he admits that he's biased because Liles is "accountable the media." I suppose if NHL teams based their captains on how they interacted with pessimistic, grumpy, insomniac media guys, this would count for something. But they don't, so it doesn't

If Hejduk wanted it, the "C" would be his, but I do agree with AD in guessing that Milan really isn't interested in being a captain. Just doesn't seem like his style. That brings it down to two guys, in my view: Stastny or Duchene. Stastny is the obvious choice (although Dater prefers "more of a vocal guy as a captain"... guess that would have ruled out Quoteless Joe as good captain material, huh?), with Duchene a bit behind. I think the Avs will go the way many teams seem to be going, and give the C to the guy they intend to build their team around for the next decade: and that's Duchene.

This entry attempts to answer a question that really doesn't matter, and Dater gives what I consider a very odd answer in Liles. But I'm not going to mark Dater down just for disagreeing with me... I only mark him down a bit for his "I prefer vocal captains" pronouncement, and for leaving Ryan O'Reilly completely out of the mix.


All Things Avs blog: postgame Avs/Ducks

In this blog entry, Dater expresses some frustration with the way the Avalanche season has gone. Another loss, more injuries... I suppose that even a great reporter would have a difficult time telling the same story twenty times in a row.

Dater starts with an intro comparing the Avalanche to Old Yeller. I suppose the idea behind this metaphor is that the Avs should be put down, and that they make Dater cry, so I guess it works. I'd point out, however, that Old Yeller was not "bitten by rabies," unless the wolf's name was "Rabies." Which come to think of it, would be a kind of funny name for a dog.

Dater then refers to the Avalanche fans as "ye faithful followers of these metal-footed men." Another weird phrase. Some of the Avs appear to have stone hands and shit for brains, but not metal feet. Do I know what he meant? Sure I do... but he's a professional writer, and his audience shouldn't have to decode what he wrote to get to what he meant. Dater should avoid the flourish-laced language when he's been bawling his eyes out over Old Yeller, apparently.

Dater moves on to compare the current Avs to the Nordiques, and makes an attempt to comfort Avs fans by bringing up "karma," remarking that the Nordiques fans had to endure years of bad hockey in order to build a team that would be taken away immediately before becoming a powerhouse and winning the Stanley Cup. I guess the point is that Avs fans didn't have to go through the growing pains then, so they have to now... but trying to tie "karma" into it doesn't really add up for me. Karma would see to it that Avs fans suffer through another few years of this crap, and then see their team move back to Quebec and win a couple Cups there. With Budaj in goal. So let's not bring up "karma" again, shall we?

Once Dater finally gets to talking about the game itself, he actually has some decent comments. Pointing out that Duchene has not been good, noting that O'Reilley's wide miss that turned into a chance (and goal) the other way was a biggie, and some recognition that Erik Johnson was (and has been) very good. Dater closes with a couple links and another word or two on the Chara hit.

Overall, a very odd start leads to some good, blog-worthy comments about the Ducks game. If the intro had been less awkward, this may have been a solid A.

All Things Avs blog: "Dater" and "Optimism" in same sentence: sign of apocalypse?

In this brief blog entry, Dater introduces his readers to Avalanche prospect Stefan Elliot, who is approaching the career scoring record for WHL defensemen. Dater does a good job telling us a bit about Elliot, even going so far as to link to another article about the kid and to mention the name of the guy whose record Elliot is after, which I thought were both nice additions.

My cynical nature peeked in, though, and asked, "Why has the guy been in the WHL for long enough to break a 37-year-old scoring record? If he's so good, why hasn't he moved up at all?" Elliot is twenty years old and has been in the WHL for four seasons, so part of me wonders if this record is a bit like Crash Davis hitting the most career HRs in the minors... a dubious honor. So while the topic raises some questions that are not answered here, this blog entry is a good intro to a player that could be an important piece of the Avalanche's future.


Avs Mailbag: Draft questions and more!

Dater's workload seems to be light this week... other than this Mailbag, an Adam Foote retirement article, and a couple blogs, most of the game writeups have been from outside sources... which has been a refreshing change. So without much actually coming from the Denver Post (and with a car needing a new transmission put in this week), I've allowed myself to get a bit behind. Hope to play catchup today on both the blog and the transmission, and I will start with this Mailbag.

Larsson sports my high school hairstyle.
The first question deals with the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. The Avs' freefall makes it more and more likely that they will be in line for a very high pick, and this question asks about the players who might be selected with one of those high picks. Dater offers two names, both Swedes (and both, coincidentally, the same two he discussed in an All Things Avs blog entry): Landeskog and Larsson, and gives a very small bit of information for both of them.

I'd like to have seen a more thorough answer here... first of all, while Larsson is pretty much universally ranked #1 or #2, and Landeskog appears to be a top-five pick, there are a couple others whom Dater fails to mention, but should have. Sean Courtier and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are both ranked ahead of Landeskog by the Hockey News, and Nugent-Hopkins us currently ranked first overall by ISS. Dater could have done a bit more research and provided a much better answer, but he didn't. He does, however, admit that he doesn't really know anything about the players in the draft to begin with, and even teases himself about it... saving me the trouble.

The second question concerns the draft itself. I've been critical of Dater's apparent lack of understanding of how the draft works in previous entries... not that I figure he's responding directly to me, but I think he included this question to make sure people know he understands the process.

After reading the answer, though, I'm still not sure. He acknowledges that, rather than teams picking in reverse order of their regular season finish, there is a draft lottery, but when he writes "here are the odds of teams getting the top pick," he's 100% wrong. The odds he lists are the odds that each team will win the lottery, but only the top (or bottom) five teams can actually move up enough to claim the top pick... the 14th ranked team does NOT have a 0.5% chance of getting the top pick, they have a 0.5% chance of moving up to pick 10th, in the first round only.

So nice try on this one, Dater, but you're still offering incorrect information to your readers on this subject. Either do your homework, or stay silent on subjects you don't understand.

The third question is a kind of fun question, asking if a team made up of ex-Avs could beat the team made up of current Avs. Frankly, I think a more balanced question is whether a team made up of retired Avs could beat the current squad, because a team of ex-Avs-but-current-NHLers would wipe the floor with them, as pretty much every NHL team has done the last two months.

This question does link up to one of Dater's common complaints: how often players the Avalanche have gotten rid of have scored against them. And of course, it gives Dater yet another opportunity to repeat his opinion of the Craig Anderson trade, which at this point is starting to resemble nails on a chalkboard.

Dater doesn't really give an answer to this question, but because it was one of those "sitting at the bar making up hypothetical stuff to argue about" questions, I suppose his lack of answer doesn't really matter, so I won't knock him down for it.

The next question addresses the Avalanche penalty kill, and why players like Duchene are not on the PK unit. Asking Dater an Xs and Os hockey question is always an iffy idea. I think Dater knows that a detailed answer to this question is beyond his depth, so he keeps his answer very basic here. Dater basically explains that most coaches don't often have their best players kill penalties because it's tiring, and that McClement may be a decent PKer next season once he gets used to the Avs system. This is a pretty good -- although brief -- answer to this question.

The penultimate question here is about Craig Anderson's play in Ottawa since he was traded from the Avalanche. Does anybody else get the feeling that if somebody didn't write in with this question, Dater would have created a fake name and just asked it himself, so he could answer it? AD is completely hung up on the Anderson trade... he has clearly lost the perspective of a reporter (if he ever had it to begin with) and is just ranting like a fan.

I'm not sure why Dater dwells so much on goaltending, which is the position in hockey he obviously understands the least. His mancrush on Anderson, running concurrent with his hatred of Peter Budaj, despite the fact that they had essentially the same stats playing for the same team, is proof that Dater judges goalies emotionally rather than empirically, and that's kind of the opposite of what a reporter is asked to do.

Dater's answer to this question isn't really that important, because he's just using this question as an excuse to once again say "Anderson was great last year, I don't think he gave up on the Avs, blah blah blah." Enough already!

The final question today deals with Sheldon Souray, and whether AD would have liked to see the Avs pick him up. Dater answers that last year he would have liked to see them get Souray, but he did not think that this year, and leaves it at that. That answer alone raises some questions: what changed between last year and this year? Why did you change your opinion? Why would he have helped last season, but not this season? ...but Dater doesn't go there. So while he did, in fact, answer the question, it still seems very rushed and incomplete.