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.

Video: Ovechkin rocks custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.

On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Video: Crosby slash leaves Methot’s finger bloodied and injured (Updated)

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Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.

He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.

The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.

There was no call on the play.

Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.

Show me the money! Nylander sets Leafs rookie record with latest assist

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Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.

Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:

Not bad.

Gibson (lower-body injury) will play again this regular season, says Carlyle

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The Anaheim Ducks have been without goalie John Gibson for almost two full weeks because of injury, but head coach Randy Carlyle provided reason for optimism on Thursday.

Per reports, Gibson took part in practice and Carlyle has said that his No. 1 netminder will play again during the regular season. Anaheim has nine games remaining on its schedule.

That’s good news for Anaheim heading into the post-season.

While Gibson has been out, Jonathan Bernier has stepped beyond his back-up role and provided solid goaltending for the Ducks during the stretch drive — which should also be a bonus for this club with the playoffs quickly approaching.

Bernier has wins in six of his last seven starts. In nine games this month, he has only twice allowed three goals or more.

The Ducks have fought their way back into contention for the Pacific Division with a recent surge that has coincided with San Jose’s current skid — only four wins in their last 10 games and four straight losses.

Related: Career back on track, Bernier hopes he can re-sign in Anaheim