Denver columnist: Avs could be ‘laughingstock of hockey’

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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.

Rangers get good news on McDonagh, bad news on Nash

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Some good news/bad news for the Rangers.

Exactly one week after suffering a concussion against the Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the ice with his teammates this morning.

The Rangers captain was wearing a non-contract jersey, but “looked good” according to coach Alain Vigneault.

McDonagh was hurt after taking a punch to the head from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds (above).

The 26-year-old has missed each of his team’s last three games since suffering the injury.

McDonagh hasn’t been cleared for contact, but that could happen in the next few days according to Vigneault.

The news wasn’t as good for forward Rick Nash, who’s been dealing with a bone bruise in his leg.

Nash has missed each of New York last eight game’s and Vigneault admitted that he’s no longer considered day-to-day.

He’ll miss at least another week.

Video: Blandisi scores great between-the-legs goal vs. Flyers

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What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.

The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.

It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.

Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.

He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).

That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.

Some Twitter reaction to the goal:

Bruins’ Bergeron ruled out for Saturday’s game against Wild

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The Boston Bruins will be without center Patrice Bergeron in Saturday afternoon’s matinee against the Minnesota Wild.

It’s unclear how Bergeron suffered the undisclosed injury, but there’s reason to believe it occurred after he dropped the gloves with Jets forward Blake Wheeler (above).

He’s considered day-to-day at this point.

Losing him for an extended period of time would be devastating for Boston.

“You don’t like seeing your star players (fight), but you also understand that it’s an emotional game and that stuff happens and at one point a player says, ‘Enough is enough and I’m going to stand up for myself,’” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said after the game, as per the Boston Herald.

“From what I gathered there was a lot of slashes behind the legs behind the play and stuff like that. He took things upon himself. As much as you don’t like it, you can’t tell him he’s not allowed. He’s a big boy and he can certainly make some decisions on the ice. And it’s not the first time that he’s fought. But I like the fact that he doesn’t fight much.”

After this incident, there’s no doubt that the Bruins will tell Bergeron to keep his gloves on from now on.

Jets will take one more crack at re-signing Andrew Ladd

Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd (16) and Blake Wheeler (26) celebrate Ladd's goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Jets captain Andrew Ladd still doesn’t have a contract for next season and with the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaching, something’s gonna have to give.

According to TSN’s Gary Lawless, the Winnipeg Jets will make one last push to sign the forward before making him available on the trade market.

Ladd doesn’t want to leave and the team wants to keep him, but after Dustin Byfgulien got an extension earlier this month, there may not be enough money to go around.

At one point, the Jets reportedly made Ladd a six-year offer worth $6 million per year, which he obviously didn’t accept.

Can they top that? Time will tell.

Waiting to trade Ladd is probably the smartest decision.

Keeping the captain around would be great, but if the two sides can’t agree to a new contract, there’ll be no shortage of suitors for Ladd’s services.

Lawless mentions the Penguins, Panthers and Blackhawks as potential landing spots for the 30-year-old.

The Kings have also been mentioned as a potential destination for Ladd.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will have to make some crucial decisions over the next few weeks.