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Denver columnist: Avs could be ‘laughingstock of hockey’

Mar 1, 2013, 3:17 PM EDT

Greg Sherman Getty Images

The knives are out in Colorado.

You knew they would be after the Avalanche matched Calgary’s offer sheet for forward Ryan O’Reilly. Not because the Avs matched, but rather, because the club had its hand forced on its own player.

Exhibit A:

Here’s the Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla teeing off on Colorado general manager Greg Sherman and team president Pierre Lacroix.

Let’s be honest: Colorado management wanted O’Reilly gone far away from Denver, with the team privately bad-mouthing both the player and his family. Now, the Avs are stuck with paying the popular 22-year-old center at least 40 percent more than a previous take-it-or-leave-it proposal, all because the Calgary Flames broke NHL etiquette and stuck Colorado with a hefty offer sheet.

The bottom line: Dilly-dallying instead of closing a trade to bring a top four defenseman to Colorado in return for O’Reilly, the Avalanche let their payroll structure be set by a general manager in Calgary, of all people.

Once the most feared franchise in the NHL, the Avs now could, and maybe should, be the laughingstock of hockey.

Kiszla’s conclusion? “It’s obvious what Colorado management is doing to restore lost hockey glory hasn’t worked. It’s time for the Avs to overhaul the whole way they do business.”

Exhibit B:

Here’s the Denver Post’s Adrian Dateralready an outspoken critic of Avs management — on the O’Reilly fallout:

What the Flames did (yesterday), essentially, was potentially blow out the Avs’ salary structure in the next couple years. The Avs let the Flames set the market for O’Reilly’s value – and they had to swallow their pride and accept it because gambling that they’d get a lottery pick with the Flames’ first-round pick this year was too poor a prospect. How awful would it have been for this team if they’d not only let O’Reilly go to Calgary, but then gotten a worse draft pick maybe thanks to his helping them out the rest of the year in the standings? It would have been a humiliating blow.

And today was humiliating enough for Avs management. They clearly gambled that nobody would break the offer sheet code that most teams live by – especially in the year after a lockout – and that they would be able to dictate to O’Reilly what his market value would be, not the other way around. Well, guess what? They lost that bet.

Meanwhile, in Calgary, Flames general manager Jay Feaster might have a few things to explain as well.

  1. withseidelinn - Mar 1, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    Two bad GMs just showcasing piss poor management tactics

    • crosberries - Mar 1, 2013 at 4:14 PM

      And people blamed the players for this lock out. These morons can’t help tripping over themselves.

      • lordfletcher - Mar 1, 2013 at 5:59 PM

        I guess I can’t blame Colorado for matching but I can blame them for doing ASAP. They should have let Calgary play out their schedule till the 7th and if their standings dropped at all, you take the 1st and 3rd.

        I am sorry but if you’re in a re-build situation (as both teams are, can’t comprehend why Calgary made this offer) you take any all all draft picks, especially in a top 10 heavy draft. Its possible that Colorado could have ended up with 2 top 5 picks and or 1 top 5 and a top 10, either way is two potential #1 picks with the new lottery system.

        I have to shake my head at both GM’s but more Colorado’s but if he feels like O’Reilly is a must keep player, you should have paid him two months ago. What was the point of holding out ???

        yikes

  2. 950003cups - Mar 1, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    This whole issue is a joke. Both GM’s (calgary and colorado) should immediately be fired. No questions asked. Calgary’s Jay Feaster for risking a first and 3rd pick for a player that they would never made it to the airport due to the waiver rules. And Colorado’s Greg Sherman for:

    A) rushing to make the matched offer

    B) allowing the rest of his team see his weakness

    C) giving up a 1st and 3rd pick at ZERO COST

    D) for not knowing the rules of a player coming from overseas leagues as a RFA

    E) outright embarrassing the entire organization

    • jernster21 - Mar 1, 2013 at 11:42 PM

      As an Avs fan I would have been bothered if they drug out the process till day 7 and ended up matching it. If you want the player, you sign it immediately – it doesn’t take 7 days to figure that out. A lot of people disagree with me but the Avs held firm on THEIR offer – it doesn’t mean they didn’t have the money or weren’t willing to pay what SOMEONE ELSE valued him at. They aren’t morons, they knew an offer sheet was as possibility, but it still took 1/3 of the season for ONE team to say hey, we feel he’s worth the money he’s asking for, to us. Apparently he’s worth that to the Avs too because they’re the ones paying for it – they just held firm on their belief that he should have bridged his contract at a price that was undeniably reasonable as it was. If I say you’re worth this much and hold to it for 1/3 of the season and then say hey, suddenly you’re worth what you asked for and cave, I feel like that’s worse than how this played out. O’Reilly is a proven NHL caliber player – turning him away for 2 unknown prospects is insane when the Avs need immediate help, not help after 2-3 years. People also think it’s a money issue – I don’t know what draftees make when drafted 5-10 but both Duchene and Landeskog were given max deals (base 900k + bonuses) which is ~3.5 a year….the Avs were going to pay that to O’Reilly anyway!

      • lordfletcher - Mar 2, 2013 at 12:23 AM

        “As an Avs fan I would have been bothered if they drug out the process till day 7 and ended up matching it. If you want the player, you sign it immediately ” ….

        if the Avs were going to match any offer sheet, especially in the time frame they did….THEY SHOULD HAVE PAID HIM MONTHS AGO. makes no sense and both GM’s and management groups should be fired. idiots!

        —-

        “turning him away for 2 unknown prospects is insane when the Avs need immediate help”

        The Avs do not need immediate help, they are not Stanley cup contenders and won’t be with this current roster… should rebuild and should have started before the varlamov trade.

      • jernster21 - Mar 2, 2013 at 12:56 AM

        They’ve been rebuilding for years – Landeskog, Duchene and O’Reilly were fruit of that rebuild…the gap in this team is defense, if that was shored up and were more consistent I wouldn’t rule the current roster out of an 8 seed…pretty hard to see that with all the injuries so far this year though. You can’t win the cup without making the playoffs – that should be the priority of teams like the Avalanche right now…teams like the Blackhawks go into the season expecting to win the cup…the Avs aren’t there yet, no denying that.

  3. joethorntonisclutch - Mar 1, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    Ryan O’Reilly is a good player and will improve this Colorado team, as he did last year. The offer sheet and waiver situation was a disaster but I think the Avs would be stupid to not embrace this kid now that he’s back, as he was their leading scorer, no?

    • davebabychreturns - Mar 1, 2013 at 3:47 PM

      If O’Reilly plays hardball with his next contract negotiations the Avs will have to pay him $6.5m in 2014-15 or lose him as a UFA for nothing.

      I’m going to go ahead and predict that unless he explodes next year or signs a sensible long term deal with the Avs, he’s going to get dealt at the deadline to a team that sees him as a rental for a playoff run.

      • killerpgh - Mar 1, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        They might not be able to trade him next year either. He can’t be traded for one calendar year. Depending on when the traded deadline is next season that could screw the Avalanche. He signed on Feb 28 so he won’t be able to be traded until Feb 28 of next year. Last year for the 2011-12 season the trade deadline was Feb. 27th. It might be an issue. I think the trade deadline is 40 days (but with the new CBA I’m not positive) before the last day of the regular season so we probably won’t know if he is tradable until next seasons schedule comes out. Now if the NHL does end up taking a break for the Olympic’s there is a good chance the season gets extended longer and that 40 day mark would end up being in mid March.

      • withseidelinn - Mar 1, 2013 at 4:46 PM

        Lots of people were saying the Avs would trade O’Rielly exactly 1 year after this deal, but with the trade deadline that could be very hard. His performance this year and next will be extremely important in whether he is worth the 6.5 and they pay, or let him walk.

  4. drez146 - Mar 1, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    Still not worth 5 mill a year

  5. phillyphanatic77 - Mar 1, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    Sherman definitely miscalculated the market for O’Reilly. Not only were they asking way too much for a trade (yet refusing to pay the kid like a hot commodity), but they expected other franchises, out of the goodness of their hearts, to not put in an offer on a 22-year old centerman with lots of potential. Sherman thought he was totally in control when in reality he was losing, no matter what. If you don’t want other teams to set the market then you have to compromise. Not stubbornly refuse to budge an inch and gloat as if you’ve won. Just like the Avs, I don’t believe O’Reilly is worth that contract, but now they have to pay him exactly what he wanted. Sherman lost and he can only blame himself. There’s plenty of middle ground between $3.5 and $5 million! Voracek had similar production last season and he got $4.25mil. Terrible work by the Avs front office.

    Also, I hate the idea that offer sheet’s are taboo. If it doesn’t say anywhere in the CBA that you can’t extend offer sheets then why is it such an offensive move? I understand it’s totally wrong and disrespectful to extend an offer just to run up the price for other teams, but if you really want the player then why not try and get him. It’s not like there isn’t a fair compensation system. I mean Nashville would’ve gotten 4 first round picks for Shea Weber. That’s four potential difference makers (especially with as well as Nashville drafts). In hindsight the compensation could end being more valuable than the player, as the O’Reilly signing could eventually show.

    • jernster21 - Mar 1, 2013 at 11:46 PM

      Offer sheets happen all the time in other sports – the stigma in the NHL is ridiculous.

  6. blkeskimo1785 - Mar 1, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    A major overhaul of this franchise is needed. Sherman, Lacroix, Sacco…they all need to go. Lacroix hasn’t been able to handle this franchise since the salary cap has been put into place…disappointing to be an Avs fan.

    • govtminion - Mar 1, 2013 at 5:56 PM

      Not enough, sadly. The Avs have become what the Blackhawks were a few years ago- ownership is more concerned with revenue and parking prices than with creating a decent team. The Avs are going to stay like this until someone else owns the team- until then, any new GM is going to get handed the same bad situation Sherman has.

  7. atwatercrushesokoye - Mar 1, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Not an Avalanche fan (I’m an embarrassed Flames fan) but being a Denver Broncos fan I’m very familiar with Mark Kizla’s “handy work” and quite simply the guys an a**hole. His entire shtick is to take the most polarizing view of anything and advance it in the hopes that it gets him some attention. If the Avalanche were able to win another cup at some point in the future his article the next day won’t be about them winning instead it will focus on the fact that they haven’t won two in a row so really they’re not that good, because that will get him some attention.

    Basically he’s Woody Paige’s evil twin.

  8. chrisk61 - Mar 1, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    who cares ? calgary…denver…the 2nd and 3rd worst teams in the west fighting over scraps…maybe we will start paying attention when one of them hits the 20 point mark…

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Mar 1, 2013 at 5:32 PM

      Apparently you care enough to come into the article and comment on it.

  9. tiger7575 - Mar 1, 2013 at 9:11 PM

    Big Av’s fan, been a hockey fan in Denver since The Denver Spurs of the WHA. There is no doubt that the Nuggets drain the cash. Stan is not a driven to win owner,
    Never has been. But, he is obviously a wonderful businessman. Josh has little interest in Hockey, basketball player and many other good things in his life to manage.
    Stan and Josh see the Av’s as tenants in their building, nothing more. Until season ticket sales drop to very low levels, nothing will change. BEST PREDICTOR OF FUTURE BEHAVIOR IS PAST BEHAVIOR.

  10. jernster21 - Mar 1, 2013 at 11:18 PM

    Kiszla is a senile old man that knows absolutely nothing about hockey but since the Denver Post gives him a platform to share his irrelevant opinion, it gets posted. Challenge him on the subject of hockey and get blocked on twitter because he can’t own up to being a dumb ass on the subject. He thinks because he had a media pass in the glory years that his opinion is relevant; it’s not.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Mar 1, 2013 at 11:25 PM

      Sounds similar to his football knowledge! Still waiting for him to own up to saying that the Broncos should trade their entire draft to move up for Mike Williams (the receiver from USC) cause he would be the most dynamic playmaker we’ve ever seen….guess he missed on that one!

  11. jernster21 - Mar 1, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    As far as Dater’s comments, who don’t get me wrong, I respect as a writer, likes to let loose and criticize the Avs but after getting reamed by readers, churns out an opposite column playing devil’s advocate (which he should be doing from the very beginning anyway.) The cap hit is 5m, O’Reilly got what he wanted and the Avs were willing to pay for it – they didn’t determine his “worth”, someone else did, and the Avs have shown that he’s worth it (and barring all the toxicity columns that continue to be written) they want him on the team. People keep talking about how they’re forced to keep him for a year – do people really think that if he was going to be a cancer to the team that they would bring him back for one day, let alone a whole year? Let’s get serious. If people wanna make a big deal about this situation, they outta revisit the the Nashville/Weber match because the Avs actually have a single owner who has deep pockets who signed off on this deal, not a collection of 5-10 minority owners to have a conference call to decide if they had enough in their piggy bank.

  12. Foogos - Mar 2, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    How does Greg Sherman have his job? This is the same guy who traded away Stewart and Shattenkirk in a move that only could have made sense if they were locker room cancers (I’ve never heard this). It really looked like a trade I would have made to make NHL ’95 more interesting on Genesis.

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