THE COLORADO AVALANCHE
2015 RECORD: 39-31-12
Credit where it’s due, the Avalanche know how to keep fan support on the level. Whereas the Philadelphia 76ers just blatantly acquire future “value”, the Avalanche take stock of their current team and spin it, time and time and time again. We aren’t “tanking” this season, we’re always “developing”. The Fountain of Youth thing doesn’t hold up anymore, though: the average age of the team is 28.7 years old, which skews toward the older third of the league. The team boasts some veteran leadership with Iginla and Tanguay – nine of the 24 active players are 30 or older – but also boasts some really odd line pairings, like Hejda (37) and Briere (37) trying to keep pace with Hamilton (23) and Caron (24). Or Tanguay (35), Guenin (32), and Stuart (35) on the same line as Landeskog (22) and O’Reilly (24). Iginla (37) on the first line with Barrie (23) and Duchene (24). Et cetera. Does every team suffer the same disparity? E-mail me. It’s a chore to research.
SHINING MOMENT: Definitely officializing Joe Sakic as GM of Roy’s rebuild. Sure, we went from first to last in the Central Division and the interview questions for future personnel are now “Did you win a Cup for us in 1996?” and “Did you win a Cup for us in 2001?” (Sorry, Bourque. You can’t be President. Wanna be Bernie?) But nostalgia! What’s the win-loss record on that, huh? 2 Cups-0 Regrets, that’s what.
CONSENSUS: Look, I have no idea who the Avalanche are; but more importantly, I don’t know who they want to be. It’s not entirely the club’s fault. After several years of Gary Bettman’s mismanagement, hockey is now fully out of its funk. No longer are the players Russian exports facelessly moving along the ice like so many Tetris blocks. We have nicknames for these players – well, to be fair, the same alternate surnames every club has: “-y” for names ending in vowels and “-er” or “-sky” for consonants. We have some of the fastest players in the league and a few bruisers. With peak form Varmylov, all that’s missing is a star acquisition – but I feel like that was the point of grooming O’Reilley and Landeskog, no? Not to be harsh, but the misfit toys can’t put on the same jersey and escape being misfits. And they aren’t misfits, but they are misfit for each other. Teams like Chicago, L.A., and Boston, as they say, fix the broken axles and keep moving each year; I can’t remember the last time we had a wheel. Can you call taking the Wild to seven in the first round “a wheel”? Sakic and Roy operating as the brass looks much more panicky than it should. Or maybe they’re not here to help us gloss over an underwhelming team, but rather to gloss over Josh Fucking Kroenke Again, circa 2013. Something about Colorado’s Hockey DNA being so perfect for the environment makes me think fans won’t ever leave en masse the way they did for O’Dowd’s Rockies. It’s a niche thing and they’re there to stay. So be kind to them, JFKA.
CORPSIFICATION: The Detroit Red Wings glide through pre-game warm-ups. Their focus lingers from their stoic slapshots toward the other end. Some are old enough to remember the days, some are young enough to have heard the lore secondhand. “Son,” said the ginger father of a –zov or –yev, “you will play these maroon men until one of you dies. If it is you, there will be no funeral.” Oh, the wistful Stoli tears, not just in playing the maroon men only twice a year now, but for the melancholia of even those few meetings. The legacy of their bloody past looking like a child’s re-enactment with all of the plot points changed.
A –kov skated over to a –novich, their beards ablaze with hair. “—Novich, tonight the deal ends.”
–novich stopped skating. “You think they are prepared?”
“It does not matter. We have waited long enough.”
“We have a deal. What will the rest of the league think, to kill these little lambs? No. We take out their aging bulls like always—“
“Their bulls are bullshit. Don’t you see, Somethingkov? They don’t want to play hockey. They want for big bulls to protect little lambs, for always. Bulls say ‘wait until they are ready, as we waited for you’. There is no ready! They want a new hockey, no touching. They want for to skate by us like big babushkas.”
And so the Red Wings fatefully lowered their shoulders that night. It is still spoken of to this day, how the young maroon did fly into and over the boards; how the aging maroon did fall dead at center ice, febrile from the effort to play on. Sakic pulled Tanguay from the fray, just in time to anoint him COO. Roy fought the goalie again. And though the spirit of the Pepsi Center threatened to wane eternally, a four syllable murmur arose from the stands – a murmur without which Colorado might never have returned to normalcy. It started from the 400s:
“We’re not De-troit.” Clap clap clap clap clap.
“We’re not De-troit.” Clap clap clap clap clap.
The zovs stopped their dirty cross-checking and listened to the chant grow.
“WE’RE NOT DE-TROIT.” Then from the 200s:
“GONE FOR-EVER.” Clap clap clap clap clap. “AN-CIENT HIST-’RY.” “NO MORE IN-DUS-TRY.”
“Nyet!” shouted –yev. “This is not hockey related! Stop the chanting!” From the 500s:
“FIRST DEAD CI-TY.” “SHAME OUR COUN-TRY.”
Disheartened and dazed, the Wings gave up two inexcusable goals to allow overtime. The Avs lost in shootouts, then stepped out into the cool mountain air, where jobs were held and the citizens still smiled.
THE DENVER BRONCOS
2015 RECORD: 12-4
Sometimes I wish we had a NY Post in Denver. After the first few Brock Osweiler games – where we can purge “BROCK AND ROLL”, “BROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH”, and “BUCKING BROCKO” from our system – the universe of newspaper headlines would be ours for the taking. “EAT YOUR BROCKOLI”? Sure. “BROCK TO BUSINESS”? Why not. “OSWEILLIAN DYSTOPIA”? Unlikely, but a 2-14 season makes for crazier things. The point being, Brock Alan Osweiler is going to have to play at least five regular season games for Playoff Peyton to have enough in the tank. Since the Rockies won’t be in the playoffs, let’s give him the whole month of Brocktober. Go wild. We’re coming up on Year Four with Brock as our backup, his only brush with the mainstream coming when Peyton psyches him into thinking he’s playing. He’s likely not our future, so this season rides not on PFM but one question: can he be our semi-present?
I say yes, for one reason: he got the starting job at ASU when Steven Threet retired due to concussions. Sound familiar? That’s right. Brock Osweiler is Matt Saracen, stepping in permanently for Jason Street. Brock loves his grandma, has abandonment issues (unconfirmed), and soon will date the coach’s daughter. But wait, you say, oddly knowing this information off the top of your head, Kubiak has three sons. Of course I know that; I have a website. Remember that the majority of Matt’s relationship with Julie happened while Coach Taylor was at TMU, which means Brock will have to date our recently departed coach’s daughter. Coach Fox even looks like an old Coach Taylor. Did you know Coach Fox has a daughter? He does. Her name is Halle (sounds like Julie) and… she’s 14. Okay. Wow. Um…
Peyton Manning will play all 16 games, none of the above parallels happen, and we will go 10-6.
SHINING MOMENT: Everything C.J. Anderson ever did, cutting Brandon McManus, and cutting McManus a second time. (I mean as in the same time, but counted again. We didn’t cut him twice, sadly. I checked.)
CONSENSUS: This season will be one of the stranger experiments in recent memory, and Denver is the perfect place for those. It’s how the 2007 Rockies got hot, it’s how the Nuggets made the playoffs post-Melo, and lest we forget the Tebow years so soon. Can you win the Super Bowl with Mariano Rivera as your starter? Because that’s what we’ve got: limited genius. Peyton’s 5000 yard, 50 TD seasons are gone. He should set his sights on obliterating the single season record for passer rating. Would you put it past Peyton to play nine games and put up a 130? Brock can’t get to 4-3 with 25+ handoffs to Anderson per game? If Brock can get five wins, Peyton will fix his arm strength through sheer fivehead power and throw a rope right the fuck through Brock Saracen’s pretty face. I’m rooting for this. I’ll start the hashtag. #FiveWinsAndADeathSpiral. There, it’s done.
Let’s examine our losses. Terrance Knighton is a DEFCON 1 loss and no jokes here will change that. Orlando Franklin is DEFCON 4 (1 being the worst), Julius Thomas is DEFJAM 5 (i.e. irrelevant), and Rahim Moore’s Inexcusable Error is DEF-INITELY GONE. The make-or-break development is Ryan Clady. Jesus Lord Almighty, what brought this upon us? Is it the weed? Clady’s backup right now is Chris Clark, who has started 27 games in seven seasons. We basically drafted his replacement, Ty Sambarilo, before Clady went down; now he’s guarding the blind spot of a QB with a fused neck. This feels like an appropriate time to transition.
CORPSIFICATION: Peyton enters the hallowed halls, besieged by blood and fear. Something isn’t right.
“Immortan John,” he calls, “you sent for me?”
Immortan John does not pry his gaze from the horizon. His once-great chin has become bone.
“Why did I summon you to my paradise, Peyton?”
“To win championships.”
“To win championships. Look. Look there, and tell me what you see.”
Peyton gazes into Immortan John’s binoculars: a gleam of light blinds much more than it should.
“Imperator Belicosa! He’s taken our trophies!” Peyton lowers the binoculars, helpless. “I’m not strong enough to pursue him.”
“I know,” says Immortan John, holding a hooked medical tube. “You need postseason blood. You need the blood of a fourth quarter, do-or-die, team-on-his-back champion.”
Immortan John plunges the hook into his vein and approaches Peyton, who trembles with reverence.
“You… will be my bloodbag? Sir, I am not worthy of—“
“No. No, you are not. But this is what it has come to.”
They ride. They ride for days, then months. In all their travels, Belicosa’s face does not move, except to mutter “Pass play… my god it’s a pass play…” The blood of The 12 christens his forehead. He sees dust building behind him. They are catching him. He wants to be caught.
“Shoot the tires!” orders Immortan John. Peyton fires. The bullets wobble through the air, but land with great precision. To no effect.
“They’re already deflated! How???”
Belicosa smirks, heading into an unholy typhoon of sand. “We’re on to Valhalla,” he says. No one will stop him.