Saturday, January 26, 2013

Avs Mailbag: Landeskog a superstar in the making?

Hello! Today we're going to take a look at the latest Avs Mailbag by Adrian Dater. In it, Dater tackles seven questions from readers, ranging from the future for Calder-winning forward Gabe Landeskog to the relative ugliness of the Avalanche jerseys.

Avs Mailbag: Is young captain Gabriel Landeskog a superstar in making?

First of all, let's discuss the headline: Landeskog either is, or is not, a superstar in the making. It's entirely possible that someone other than Dater wrote the headline, but whoever did write it should be made aware that "the" is a part of speech called an article, and they're free, so let's go head and use them. In the old days of printed newspapers, articles were often dropped in order to fit a headline into its allotted space, but since the Avs Mailbag only appears online, this is not a valid excuse. It may seem like nothing to quibble about, but seeing as how this entire blog is about quibbling, I might as well do it right.

Now, on to the questions. The first question asks whether Landeskog will become a "bona fide superstar" and if Varlamov can play "consistently well all season." If those two things happen, thinks Jay from Englewood, the Avs are a playoff team.

Dater answers "Yes on Landeskog, and maybe on Varlamov." He believes Landy is already a superstar (offering as an example his play against the Kings), but hedges his bet a bit on Varlamov, indicating that a lot of that will depend on how well his defense plays in front of him.

I mostly agree with Dater here. I think it's too early to pronounce Landeskog a true "superstar," but he's clearly heading in the right direction. I tend to think more highly of Varlamov than Dater seems to, but AD is correct in saying that his year will depend on how well his team plays in front of him -- a slack he was often less-than-willing to give to many of Varlamov's predecessors. Overall, a fine answer.

Next is a question about why the NHL seems to produce more lockouts than other sports, adding that such labor disputes "(sabotage) the NHL brand and the League's future." Dater does not really answer the question about why the NHL seems to have more lockouts, but he does make a good point on why, in the long run, it's unlikely to matter:

While fans may hate the players and NHL management for a while, they never stop liking their teams. They still love that laundry with the team logo on front. So, they come back for that — especially if they're winning.

Couldn't have said it much better myself. Dater didn't really answer the original question, but he definitely addressed the topic.

The next question is from somebody who thinks that the fans should stage a "one-game lockout" as a protest to the aforementioned labor dispute. Dater pretty much pooh-poohs this suggestion, saying that there will be a "small number joining you in the boycott." While the answer itself isn't bad, Dater takes a somewhat condescending "I told you so" tone towards the questioner which I found irritating. It comes across as if he included this question for no other reason than to berate the guy for asking it in the first place... but at least it's brief.

Next is a question about the Ryan O'Reilly contract situation. I'm a bit surprised the mailbag didn't lead with this question, but you knew it would come up sooner or later. The questioner calls O'Reilly the team's "best player," and asks Dater's take on the situation and on how the Avs are handling it. Dater answers that O'Reilly's release by his KHL team shouldn't have an effect on the negotiations with the Avalanche and that Avs fans should be worried, but largely just refers to other things he's already written on the topic. So he doesn't necessarily answer the question as much as he just says "I've already answered this question," which in my mind makes it somewhat redundant to have included it in the Mailbag.

I'm pretty much in agreement with Dater on this entire O'Reilly situation. O'Reilly is not, in fact, the team's best player... he is a third-line center who filled in admirably when Duchene was injured, and had himself a helluva year. The Avalanche offers to him seem more than fair to me, and I would be very surprised to see them offer him anything different. Although I agree with Dater's opinion here, I don't really think he gave an outstanding answer to the question.

Next is a question about Shane O'Brien, who has been a healthy scratch in all three games so far this year. The question-asker is wondering why, and Dater answers, "I don't know." He indicates that Sacco has explained that he doesn't think O'Brien is one of the best six defensemen at the moment, and other than that Dater has no further insight. Another question that doesn't really get answered, but at least this time Dater isn't avoiding the answer, he simply doesn't know it.

Next, we have a question asking when Colorado became a "small market" team. The questioner indicates that the Avs used to be a destination to which star players wanted to come, but that now the superstars are staing away in droves. The way I read the question, it seemed to me that the person asking it is implying the "ownership is cheap" angle, and hoping that this is Dater's answer as well, but Dater doesn't take the bait.

Dater basically rejects the entire premise of the question -- that the Avs are being run differently than before -- and answers the question by saying that the team already had star players when it arrived from Quebec, and when a team wins, other starts want to join to give themselves a chance to win. All those stars got old and retired, though, and that changes things. He further states that as soon as the Avs are again the sort of team that are "just a player or two away from winning a Stanley Cup" that they will again start pursuing big-name free agents.

Again, I find myself in pretty much complete agreement with Dater on this. There is a faction of fans who believes that Avalanche owners are cheap and are ignoring the team, but as AD points out, they were one of the highest-paid teams in the league as recently as 2008-09. The facts just don't really point to a cheapskate team, they point towards (as Dater explains) a team that committed to a full-on rebuild, and has seen the normal bumps and delays involved with such a process. All in all, a good answer that I can only guess came as a disappointment to the person who asked it. Nice one, Dater.

Finally, a nice puffy question about the Avalanche uniforms, which according to the question asker have been ranked 118th out of the 122 pro sports teams. Dater was not aware of this ranking, and concludes that most of that low ranking is that the team is no longer a big winner and thus no longer popular. The problem with that answer is that, according to the original article, popularity or sales wasn't factored in, so I'm not sure Dater's answer that "if this were a top team" that rating would be higher makes any sense.

As for me, I've never cared for the Avs uniforms, to be honest. They're just ugly, plain and simple: from the logo to the colors to the little details. I've long thought that logos that use letters just look high-schoolish and cheap (and that includes the classic Broncos "D" logo). And the Avs colors, while unique, are unique for a reason: nobody else wants to use maroon and unmanly blue... and the font they use on the back, that looks like little swoopy arrows, is just lame. I don't own a single Avs jersey for this reason, and it's nice to see that somebody else agrees with me, even if it's ESPN.

Overall, Dater gave some pretty good answers here, really only missing the mark on one or two and driving both English majors and Lionel Twain crazy with the headline.

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