Is there anything worse than the offseason in hockey? If your team is horrible and rebuilding like the Avalanche it can be the tenth circle of hell because there is so little to talk about. That’s why I’m introducing a new feature on the DNP called “Know Your Blogger!”
Today I'm talking with Jay Vean of the Avalanche Hockey Podcast, which features regular post-game recaps during the season as well as a plethora of discussion about all things Avalanche.
I wrote “plethora”. Ex-cellent!
Jay, thanks for the time. Tell the readers a bit about yourself. When did you get into hockey?
I've been into hockey since I was about four years old. My Dad sang the national anthem at a few old Colorado Rockies games when I was growing up. During that time I met Herb Brooks and got a stick from Rangers defenseman Tom Younghans. After that, I was hooked. (Pun intended, I guess!) My Dad and I still go to games 30 years later and still have a great time.
What was Herbie like? Did he make you skate any laps?
Herbie picked me up, took me into the training room, sat me on a gurney, and talked to me for a bit. I don't remember a lot of the conversation since I was so young, but I do remember the experience vividly. I still have the Rockies pennant he signed for me that night. Anyone remember pennants? Younghans actually skated back onto the ice to get a stick for me after he ran out of pucks. It was my first exposure to what hockey was all about and I liked it.
He didn't make me skate any laps though. And the arena hadn't closed yet so the lights were still on. That would have lacked some of the drama from the movie!
Fantastic! Did you play growing up? (I'm saying this knowing many bloggers don't have much playing time)
I played for a few years in the University of Denver's youth program when I was younger and then played a season as an adult as well. I've played enough to know how talented these guys have to be to perform at the level they do. And coming from a college baseball player and an avid golfer, I can say that hockey is the toughest sport I have played hands down.
It is easily the toughest sport. I get into arguments with hard-core football fans all the time over this. Just the amount of effort required to play in a beer league is enough to kill people. So what position(s) did you play?
When I played I played all over the place. Goalie was my favorite since I had always been a catcher in baseball though. It was tough to get one by me glove side. If I ever go back to playing again it will be as a goalie. Based on my skating "skills," that would be my best option.
Nice, another goalie! I'm getting back into playing after being out a couple of years because I screwed up my knee in a game. I hear you on the skating. It ain't like riding a bike! So tell me about the podcast. When did you start it up and what inspired you to go on the air?
I started the podcast during the offseason two seasons ago. I've been producing it for two full seasons now. If there were something similar that someone was doing before I began mine I would have never done it. I just wanted to put something out there for Avs fan to enjoy. I feel really lucky to be able to go to about half of the home games every season and watch every game on television. I just wanted to share that fortune with other Avs fans out there who are as passionate about the team as much as I am. It's been a great ride so far. I've met a lot of cool people, like yourself!
The podcast is good one that's for sure! What is your most memorable Avs game?
Game four, 1999 Western Conference finals, against the Stars. Drury scores late in the first overtime to tie the series at 2. We had a great angle to see him beat Eddie The Eagle over his left shoulder. That's the loudest I've ever heard an arena. We were sitting next to some guys from Dallas that were there and we had a great time. They were cool and took the loss pretty well. They were hockey fans and you never mind sitting next to them. I was also at both Stanley Cup Finals opening games. The energy and buzz in the building is awesome during those times.
That was an incredible shot by Drury. I always loved to see the Avs beat Belfour. You mentioned sitting next to hockey fans while watching games. Without being picky or arrogant about the sport I have to say that it is almost a MUST to sit next to knowledgeable people during Avs games. If only because a guy can only explain icing so many times. With that in mind would you say the podcast is directed towards the hardcore hockey/Avs fan?
I try not to get too complicated on the show. I'm hoping any hockey fan would enjoy it, even tough it's obviously geared towards my team. I also do my best to mention things that only people who truly understand the game would notice. Like last season, I noticed that referee Kevin Pollack was wearing a mouthpiece. That's the first time I had ever seen that so I made it a point to mention it during my recap of that game. That's not that big of a deal, but only someone who watches a lot would notice something like that I guess.
So, no glow puck for you then?
They showed some highlights from the glow puck era on NHL Network recently and it was actually more distracting than anything else. I always wondered if they went into the stands to get those things back when they went out of play. If I remember right they were pretty pricey back then. It was a decent idea I guess, but if you need the glow to keep track of things, maybe it's time to watch a different sport for a while.
They had the "glow ball" at the home Run Derby this year. That was the last straw for me because the "trail" didn't even match up with the flight path of the ball. The thing that always got me about the glow puck was that the producers who came up with the idea didn't seem to understand that hockey isn't about watching the puck. It is about watching the play.
Ask any big time hockey fan and they'll tell you the same thing. If you want to keep track of the puck, just watch the players and what they're doing. They'll help you out all of the time. I saw the Home Run Derby as well. Waste of technology there. If you're there or you're watching it on television, and you have a tough time tracking the ball, you're wasting your time.
Okay, lets get down to brass tacks. The Avs are looking at a long rebuild. What do you think is worth watching about the team next season?
I think the Avs and the organization have something to prove for the first time in a long time. They've made it clear that they want to get back to what they once were. A new coach will come in and try to prove why they're there. There's going to be a lot of young talent that has something to prove as well. This is the first time in Avs history that they've been in this situation and I'm curious to see how they'll handle everything. Hopefully it will be something we, as Avs fans, can go back to sometime in the near future, and say, "Man, that stunk, but it was worth it and the team is better off because of it." I obviously hope that's sooner than later, as we all do. It's always been fairly easy to be an Avs fan, and that's not the case anymore. Most every team has gone through this at one point or another. It's all part of sports in general.
We, as Avs fans, will get the chance to see who steps up, and who's not quite ready to take the team big places. That process may make next season interesting to watch for sure.
How do you think the veterans will respond to the rebuild? Hejduk and Foote aren't kids anymore, and without Sakic the team is going to have to fill a huge void.
As far as Foote goes, I think it all depends on whether or not he's named captain. If the organization goes with Stastny right now I think he'll be gone sooner than later. This is a chance for this team to build a new set of leaders though. This will give us fans a chance to see who is going to be a true leader on the club. I'm thinking that it doesn't necessarily have to be a veteran either. It's wide open. I'm curious to see if the veterans on the team (Hannan, Hejduk, Tucker “gulp”) are ready to take over or give up and want to leave.
And by the way, I think Adam Foote will be named captain of the Avs for next season. I didn't mean to make it sound like I want him to leave or anything. I feel he's earned that honor, but that's just me.
Every time Darcy Tucker skates a shift, God kills a kitten. I have to believe they make Footer captain. The guy is one of the great defensive defensemen of his generation, has won two Cups, and has skated in the Olympics and World Championships. Even if he sits on the bench like Chelios (which he won't) he's too much of a leader not to give him the "C".
Totally agreed. Adam Foote has proven to be a great leader in my eyes. He also has some captain experience in Columbus. Stastny will be next, unless someone really steps up, or the organization makes a crazy trade or something like that.
What is your opinion of the Avs landing Matt Duschene? Do you think he is all that he is made out to be?
I, as well as every Avs fan, sure hope he's everything the experts say and a little more. According to Bob MacKenzie, he may have been/will be the best all around player of the top three picks. I've heard nothing but good things about the kid both on and off the ice. It's always tough to tell how well he'll do against the best players in the world though. Hopefully all the hype is true and we'll have our next great player here in Denver. I'm excited to see what he's got.
And as we all should know at this point, Bob MacKenzie, like, knows things.
It was a new thing for Avs fans to be so interested in the draft as well. That's a good thing in my eyes. I hope last season will count towards something in the future. We deserve something for watching that mess! Bob MacKenzie knows a lot of things! I just hope he's right about our thing...
You managed to actually watch that train wreck?
I'm not going anywhere. I am an Avs fan through and through. It's too easy to quit when things go so wrong. More legroom for my Dad and me if people decide to bail right now!
Exactly. Okay, one final question. You are building a team, who do you take first? Crosby, Ovechkin or Malkin?
Tough one...I have to go with Ovechkin because he has produced serious numbers without a ton of talent around him his entire career (think Barry Sanders) and because he stays healthy even though he plays a physical style of play. I always think about where the Pens would be without Malkin and Crosby together. One of them is going to get you and you can't cover them both. I love Ovechkin's approach too. Laid back and fun, but very passionate when the puck drops. You have to love his energy!
I've never been big on Russian players but I have to agree with you. The man is a force of nature! That and Crosby is such friggin’ baby.
It was annoying to me at first, but how can you not enjoy it when he's that good? The NHL shoving Crosby down the throats of the fans gets just a little too much sometimes.
I have yet to see what Crosby can really do, he's hurt too much and always complaining. I tend to think Malkin won them that Cup. Also, I'm bitter because Crosby pin wheeled my fantasy team the last two years because he was out for long periods of time.
Malkin definitely is a beast; I just don't think he would be as unstoppable without Crosby and a pretty decent goaltender in Fleury. Sorry about Fantasy too. Rebuild maybe?
Yes, the Iron Mullets are in full rebuild this season.
Great name! Sounds like something Buccigross would come up with!
Oddly enough I corresponded with him a few years ago, right when he was getting the blogumn up and running and I mentioned the name, which was ultimately the name of my intramural team at the University of Colorado, and he gave me kudos. It was good times.
I love his style. He can be goofy and funny, but his serious stuff is great to read too. Based on what I've read of yours I'm sure you guys would get along just fine.
He's a genuinely nice guy. At the time a friend of mine was considering having a pick up game for his bachelor party, and I asked Bucci if he join us. He said he would, but the game fell apart because we had too many people coming in from too many places.
Okay Jay plug the podcast!
You can find the podcast at http://avshockeypodcast.podomatic.com/. You can follow me on Twitter under username avshkypodcast. And I also created a fan page on Facebook here:
The Avs Hockey Podcast is your home for everything Avalanche!
Thanks for the time Jay. Everybody make sure to check out Jay’s podcast, it is good listening!
All is not lost in the world of the Avalanche!
So true Aaron. Thanks for having me and see you around!