Mark Knudson’s 3 strikes: Avalanche, Broncos and Buffs
Hit a: There will be plenty of celebrations when the Colorado Avalanche complete a first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Nashville Predators. It will be a job well done.
Then comes the second round. Again. During this Avalanche team’s recent run, it hasn’t been as fun.
In fact, it was in the second round that the Avalanche’s last three seasons came to an abrupt end, including last season, when following a first-round sweep of St. Louis, the Trophy winners of the president took that 2-0 lead over the Las Vegas Golden Knights. , only for, well, you know.
This follows the 2019 playoffs which saw San Jose topple the Avs in seven games, and 2020, when the COVID bubble playoffs ended for Colorado at the hands of the Dallas Stars in seven games.
So, once the Predators are defeated, what happens next? If you’re Avs coach Jared Bednar, what are you doing differently to prepare your team for (probably) the second-seeded Minnesota Wild (or maybe St. Louis, since that streak has been tied to 2-2.)
If it’s the Wild — one of those outfits a lot of Avs fans love to hate — that could prove problematic again. The two teams have shared four meetings this season, with the Avs winning a pair in Denver before the Wild won two home games in the spring, including a 4-1 victory just a few weeks ago. The Wild will provide Colorado with a very formidable enemy.
After leaving Music City, it won’t be easy.
And that’s how it should be. These Avs need to take the same approach as the 2001 Cup champions. ‘Mission 16W’ was the theme at the time (it was going to take 16 wins to win the Cup) and they weren’t the favourites. So there was a bit of an underdog mentality that served a team full of future Hall of Famers very well.
Even for a team that includes the best defenseman in the sport in Cale Makar and several of the best offensive players in the game, including Nathan MacKinnon, there has to be something even more like the central point, driving the whole team. In 2001, the team that included five future Hall of Famers was driven by a desire to win the first cup of Ray Bourque’s illustrious career. This was the mission.
This incredibly talented group must find a similar goal to get them past the second round and beyond.
They are favored by most to win Lord Stanley’s material, and they must be pressed, pushed and challenged. Feel they have something to prove. The pressure is now squarely on Bednar and his team. There is no exit ramp, no valid reasons or excuses for mission failure. They’re the best team in the NHL, and they have to respond to that pressure in a big way before this version of Mission 16W can come to fruition.
Strike two: Does an entity have more than one professional sports franchise – is playing different sports with teams located in different cities a good idea?
On the one hand, you have an owner like Pat Bowlen – singularly focused on the success of his Denver Broncos. On the other hand, you have a businessman like Denver Nuggets/Colorado Avalanche/Colorado Rapids/Los Angeles Rams/Arsenal FC owner Stan Kroenke. Bowlen has won three Super Bowls. Kroenke won the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup and MLS Cup to boot.
It doesn’t seem like a huge plus one way or the other.
So maybe it’s all right if outsiders Josh Harris – who currently owns a share of the Philadelphia 76’ers and New Jersey Devils – and Hall of Famer basketball player Magic Johnson – who already owns a share of the Los Dodgers Angeles – team up to try and buy the Broncos? Just another franchise to add to their successful portfolio, right?
Broncos Country is eager to find out who will be the next owner of their beloved franchise. There’s still a good chance that Walmart billionaire Rob Walton will get the nod because he’s among the dirtiest of the rich in the country, and in NFL circles, money speaks the loudest. But other names and bands are still in the running, including the band that includes Harris and Johnson.
On the one hand, having a guy like Magic courting top coaches and free agents in town can’t be a bad thing, can it? I mean, what football player wouldn’t want to rub shoulders with one of the biggest celebrities in sports who just happens to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time?
On the other hand, with all he has to do, will Magic – or Harris for that matter – be able to give the Broncos all the attention they need and deserve?
Here we will continue to have Mr. B as the yardstick for successful ownership. He was at Broncos headquarters every day, focused on the singular goal of making the Broncos Super Bowl champions. He was the complete opposite of an absent owner. On the other hand, no one ever knows if Kroenke will be in town watching his hockey or basketball team in person, or if he’ll be in Europe catching some futbol. This can’t be unusual for owners of multiple teams. There is no way they can give any of their individual franchises that kind of care and attention.
Still, the small “cross-ownership” fraternity of the rich seems to continue to grow, especially after Kroenke more or less pushed the NFL to drop its rule against cross-ownership in 2018. For a long time, there was a very small group of guys like the late Bill Davidson. He bought the Detroit Pistons in 1974 and the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1999. In 2004, both of his teams won championships.
Kroenke of course took that to a new level and obviously did a lot right, with the Nuggets and Avs being perennial contenders and the relocated Rams winning the Super Bowl in their own lavish football arena last February. Does that mean people here would be okay with the Harris/Johnson group getting the green light to buy the Broncos? Even though Walton is considerably better off than Harris and Johnson combined, he doesn’t have two things they have – sports team ownership experience and, very important, a minority partner element. With the NFL facing increasing scrutiny for its lack of ethnic diversity in coaching, front office AND ownership, this will matter a lot and potentially give the Harris group a decent chance.
As for Broncos Country, they only care about two things: winning on the field immediately and ensuring their franchise is an integral part of the greater Denver community in perpetuity. If Magic can help achieve both here, that’s great.
Strike three: At least temporarily, the insidious merry-go-round of the college sports transfer portal has come to a halt.
It’s not over of course, and it will resume in a few months, but the May 1 deadline for athletes to transfer and be immediately eligible next school year has now passed. So at least the current game of “Music Schools” can play out before the next one begins.
If you’re a Colorado Buffaloes fan, you helplessly watched your team lose 19 scholarship players in the last school year, while adding only seven. That makes CU a net loser in more ways than one. . The Colorado program lost quality players like Jarek Broussard, Brendan Rice, Christian Gonzalez and Mark Perry from a team that couldn’t afford them. Karl Dorrell’s construction project became much more difficult.
But the real tragedy isn’t the players who pulled out and landed in better programs like Michigan State, USC, Oregon or TCU. The real tragedy involves the four former Buffs – including standout punter Josh Watts – who have yet to find a new place to play, as well as the 11 former Colorado State Rams who left the program and are currently without a team. If they find a new school (and some may have the option to return if they wish), it will end up being a big step back from where they were when the music started.
And that’s the saddest part of it all. Along the way, these kids’ heads were filled with nonsense that they wouldn’t get what they were promised they would give them when they “pledged” and had some kind of entitlement. birthright to wait. We teach them that when faced with any sort of struggle or competition for playing time, it is better to take your ball and go find another playing field than to have to compete for a place.
Bad life lesson.
Nationally, just under half of gamers who entered the portal in the last school year found another place to play. Yes, when they rush to greener pastures and find none, it’s kind of a self-inflicted wound. Still, does that excuse the adults running things for creating this mess in the first place?
Don’t these transfer failures tell us that there is a lot wrong with this process?
Having a May 1 deadline — like putting a cap on the NFL’s free agency period — is a start, but like almost everything the NCAA does, it’s reactive, like closing the barn door afterwards. that the horses got away, as they say. If the NCAA doesn’t get proactive and start regulating all that transfer and NIL stuff, programs like CU and CSU are going to be decimated and college football Saturdays are going to lose all meaning here.