Kukla's Korner

The Burgundy Letter

Something’s rotten in the state of Denver I.

Worst scenario would be going 0-3, and it’s not out of the question as the Avs have had a hard time getting points against division rivals this season.

Well, the Avs did exactly what I was afraid of and went 0-3 on the road to negate their previous three-game winning streak. As the team prepares to face the San Jose Sharks in a couple of days, and with much speculation about the job security of Joe Sacco, I’ve decided to run a series of posts about what’s wrong with the Colorado Avalanche right now (hence the roman numerical at the end of the title). I’ve never been very interested in penning negative posts, so I’ll try to intersperse this series of articles with some positive ones as well. But let’s get straight into “Something’s rotten” with a discussion that involves the name and banner for this blog…

When Paul offered me the chance to blog about the Avalanche, he told me two things. He warned me that Kuklas Korner had a lot of Red Wings fans and that I might get in some friendly banter with them. I actually love that and try to keep some of the rivalry alive by throwing in a derogatory sentence or a joke about the Red Wings as often as I can, just for the fun of it. Reading your replies with derogatory comments about the Avalanche (which are pretty easy to come up with) is half the pleasure of blogging.

So, obviously, I like to punish myself just a bit.

The second thing Paul did was to give me my first assignment. It was to come up with a name for the blog and a banner to go along with it. I thought about it for a long time, going back and forth between options, until I finally made up my mind and settled on a solution I was very happy with.

Naturally, I hardly had time to publish my first post before someone criticized the name and the banner. “Burgundy Letter” was a stupid name, and having Patrick Roy on the banner was also stupid since he’d retired several years ago. I didn’t take the time to defend my choices right then, but I want to do so right now.

The easy one first - why did I choose “The Burgundy Letter” as the name? It’s a reference to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic book “The Scarlet Letter”. I figured it was a good choice because it’s a literary reference, it contains the word letter (which has a double meaning that suits a blog - the letter A for the Avs, and letter as in a written message). I also thought it would be nice to have a literary reference to

bring some class to a Red Wings-dominated site

bring another element to a blog other than just hockey.

But why did I choose a banner with Patrick Roy on it?

The answer is still easy, but deserves a longer post and fits well into the “Something’s rotten…” series of posts.

The Colorado Avalanche have won two cups since moving to Denver. The last one is ten years old.

In order to grow as a man you sometimes have to let go of your past. You may have fond memories of it, but if you truly want to move forward in your life you need to stop for a moment and analyze yourself. Who am I now? What are my best qualities right now, and what are my weaknesses? What do I need to work on in order to become a better person?

The Avalanche haven’t done that in the last ten years. We cling constantly to those two cups, never letting them out of our sight. And it’s keeping the organization from moving forward and realizing what needs to be done to catch up to the rest of the league

except the New York Islanders


In short, the Avs are the NHL’s equivalent to Al Bundy. A former athlete who had some success (“I once scored four touchdowns in one game”) but is now stuck selling shoes to very fat ladies and dreads going home to face his wife and kids.

Just like Al, the Avs will do anything to regain some sense of their former glory. Al would dress up in his high school outfit and facing off against former opponents (Bubba Smith). The Avs have done the same thing. Bringing back Peter Forsberg several times. Trading a 1st-rounder in 2008 (Luca Sbisa) to Columbus for an Adam Foote who was quickly approaching the end of his playing days. When Patrick Roy retired, what was our game plan? We traded for a former Vezina-winning netminder from the Montreal Canadiens - Jose Theodore. When Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg no longer were available as a mighty 1-2 punch down the middle, what did we do? We tried to create a new one with Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene. And the coaching? Oh, sweet Lord, the coaching. After Marc Crawford, we hired our AHL-affiliate coach Bob Hartley. That worked out well, he got us a cup before being fired. We then handed the reins over to assistant coach Tony Granato. Which didn’t work, so we went out and got Joel Quenneville to coach the team. He should fit in well, right? Seeing as how he was an assistant coach on the 1996 cup-winning team?

But what do you do with Granato? Fire him? Nooo - let’s demote him to assistant coach. So when Quenneville leaves, we just promote Granato to head coach again in one of the worst decisions ever made by a GM. When that didn’t work out, we turned to the AHL affiliate again and promoted a Joe Sacco who, frankly, was quite new to coaching and didn’t have a very good track record of coaching in the AHL. And we promote Milan Hejduk to captain - not necessarily because he’s the best captain material on the team, but because he’s the last remnant left from the cup-winning 2001 team.

And now, the Avs find themselves on the outside of the playoffs looking in. They are on a three-game losing streak, but Joe Sacco seems to cling to his job like a one-night stand who refuses to leave your apartment in the morning. And the front office is showing no signs of being disgruntled with his job, despite the despair of the fans. I’m hearing more and more grumbling fans saying that if the Avs don’t fire the coach soon, it will just show that the front office has given up on both the season and the fans.

Yet, would a firing of Joe Sacco lead to something better? With the Avs - not necessarily. The most likely moves if Sacco was fired would be to approach Patrick Roy and see if he’d be interested in the job, or call up AHL affiliate coach David Quinn (who, unlike Sacco, isn’t a rookie coach and has a decent track record), thus starting the merry-go-round once again.

If the Avalanche organization ever wants to start a new dynasty - and this is not about regaining former glory, mind you, but about building a NEW championship team - the team doesn’t need to fire Joe Sacco and go looking for another “member of the family” who can step in. If we truly want to take a step in the right direction, please go after someone outside the Avs’ organization.

Take a long, hard look at Randy Carlyle. He’s still out there. He belongs in the NHL, and he’s a better coach than anything we’ve come close to in the last couple of years.

In the mean time, as the Avs keep clinging to their former glory, I will keep my banner with Patrick Roy on it just the way it is.

Filed in: , , | The Burgundy Letter | Permalink
  Tags: colorado+avalanche, martin+krantz, nhl, patrick+roy



Solid article. I feel for Avs fans, because the whole organisation just seems to be stale, with everything run by the dead hand of Pierre Lacroix. There just doesn’t seem to be any coherent plan - they trade away a first round pick, and yet admit that they aren’t going all out to win this season (apparently they don’t want a repeat of the break-up the team suffered after the lockout should the next CBA lower the cap, which explains the cap floor payroll… apparently). Shame, because Denver is a great hockey town - there’s really no excuse for the quarter-assed way the team is being run, which is on a par with how owners run teams they’re imminently planning to relocate (not of course that that could happen to the Avs).

Posted by fcjbencard on 12/11/11 at 07:33 PM ET


Hey man,, good update, keep em comin.  Dont just update after wins =) tell us how you really feel.  Ive been an avs fan since the nordiques and I understand you dont like making negative posts. but damn, its hard to feel positive when the team is playing like garbage, and there is no first rounder at the end of the season to look forward too

Posted by Hizobane from Canada on 12/15/11 at 06:10 AM ET

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