Last week, I discussed how Kroenke Sports Enterprises' major Avalanche-related challenge in the offseason is to prove that the hockey team won't remain an afterthought in the family sports portfolio. Beyond the apparent "givens" that Greg Sherman will remain as general manager and Joe Sacco will return as coach, here are a few things the hockey franchise itself should do between now and the opening of training camp in September: • Name Matt Duchene captain. Yes, that might be perceived as a slight of Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk. Duchene is only 20 and still looks and sometimes sounds like it. Yet this team needs to underscore its youth and rebuilding mode, and while cases can be made for both Stastny and Hejduk as captain material, Duchene's appointment would deliver a challenge to him to step up as a Joe Sakic-type leader. • In line with that, if the young core - Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly, Erik Johnson - is the key, start acting as if that's the case in the marketing campaign. • Don't even think of not re-signing Hejduk. This team needs to spend money for a lot of reasons, including staying above the salary cap floor, and it would be ludicrous to rationalize that rebuilding could include a farewell to a 35-year-old winger who still is productive and reliable. Rebuilding, even with a 20-year-old captain, and having a solid pro like Hejduk are not mutually exclusive. Hejduk might not mind playing for an elite team in the twilight of his career, but an aggressive move to re-sign him before July 1 would be mutually beneficial. • Consider signing a proven veteran goalie - whether Ilya Bryzgalov, Tomas Vokoun or even Jean-Sebastien Giguere - as an unrestricted free agent. The negative circumstances here, of course, could dampen enthusiasm, but money talks, and the Avs have plenty of room. The other possibility would be a trade for Los Angeles backup Jonathan Bernier, but the price would have to be based on the fact that, despite some of the loose talk floating around, he hasn't yet shown he is the next Patrick Roy.
Capt. Duchene a good restart
Denver Post | Apr 10