It is time for us as Avalanche fans to get used to saying some new names.
First name would be T.J. Hensick. He has had a tough go of things simply because we have a guy named Sakic. With injuries keeping him out longer and longer Hensick looks to be someone who could easily become a fixture on this team. His goal last night was awesome, and he showed his speed, and the untaught ability to know where the puck is going to go.
David Jones is the next one. He has taken some flack and some of you have said he may not be worth much. Something we have to remember with him though is that he is the prototypical power forward. He is 6'2" and 210lbs, not a little guy by any means. Power forwards take longer to develop, it takes time for them to learn how to use their body, and how to beat some of these skilled defenders. This was part of the reason coaching started him with Sakic, the veteran would alleviate some of the defensive pressure, and give Jones more space. We all know how that turned out. My thought is that we give this guy time, he has an upside that we haven't begun to tap into yet.
Marek Svatos is rounding into form as well. Not much needs to be said about him other than we know what he is capable of when he can stay healthy, lets hope he stays in.
Ben Guite is another figure to mention, granted he is injured. He is great at being the center on a shutdown line. He isn't afraid to use his body, and hopefully the Avs can keep him around for a while.
Wolski again falls into the same category of Jones, big and strong, but rounding out his game. Granato commented recently that Wolski was doing well away from the puck, covering passing lanes, breaking up plays, just wasn't putting the puck in the net. Overall this says his game is rounding out.
Now is this blog to paint a rosy picture for this season, NO. This year will be hard fought, and likely at times very hard to watch. Next season, and the next will be even more fun. Take a look at all of those names and think about how much faster they will be, how much better they will be at looking at the play develop. It will be an uphill battle, but there are bright spots to look forward to.
Also of note was the play of Hejduk as well as Smyth. Keep pounding away at the net, and the goals come. Hejduk is so good in close and at tight angles. Keep it up, you are a blast to watch play.
Several years ago I remember reading that the Dallas Stars had taken the C away from Mike Modano and given it to a guy named Brendan Morrow. Until last season in the playoffs I was still wondering why. Morrow controlled that series against the Sharks, and did his best to keep his team in the series with Detroit. He played with a lot of heart and truly was the backbone of that team. He lead in ways on the ice that Modano was no longer capable of.
I believe the Avalanche are encountering the same thing. If Sakic hadn't been injured last seasons the leadership void wouldn't even be talked about. I do believe that management and coaching had plan to expect a lot of leadership out of Ryan Smyth, maybe even have him wear the C until a home grown talent could wear it. Then a hero in Adam Foote came home, and if Sakic ever retired, it would be him who got it. Foote is now out with injury as well and that has left a leadership void.
I doubt the organization will ever go public with this as a plan, but I believe that the A is up for grabs every week. Because of the way Paul Stastny was working, I think he got it for the upcoming week. So far this season we have seen, Hannan, Smyth, Clark, Foote, Lappy, and now Stastny wear it. We are seeing a changing of the guard here. Depending on the nature of Sakic's injury, and to a lesser extent Foote's, we could be seeing a permanent change.