Immediately after Peter Mueller was traded from the Phoenix Coyotes to the Colorado Avalanche for Wojtek Wolski, it seemed like the change of scenery would create a happy ending for everyone involved.
Mueller finally showed why he was the eighth overall pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by scoring 20 points in his 15 games with the Avs, helping them make a surprising run to the playoffs in 2010. Wolski was impressive in his own right, scoring 18 points in 18 games to help the Coyotes clinch a postseason berth in 2009-10 as well.
Sadly enough, it seems like rushing to a positive judgment proved to be hasty in both cases. Wolski’s problems seem a bit more self-inflicted; he quickly wore out his welcome with Phoenix until he was shipped to the New York Rangers, a team that already seems tired of him.
Mueller’s issues seem like they’re tinged with a bit more bad luck. A hard check by Rob Blake ended his breakthrough run before the 2009-10 season and another concussion late in the 2010-11 preseason kept him from playing a single game last season. The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater reports that September will mark a sad anniversary for Mueller and the Avs as the last time a media member had a chance to speak with the talented but injury-troubled forward.
Right now, the company line continues to be that Mueller is expected to be ready for training camp in September.
So, can I or anyone else in the hockey media talk to Mueller then, assuming he’s healthy? Well, no, is the answer still. Does that mean, then, that Mueller still has concussion problems and hasn’t been medically cleared yet? The Avs don’t really have an answer for that right now. All they’ll say is “He’ll be at camp” and “things are looking good.”
Yes, we could phone Mueller anytime and ask how he’s doing. But keep one thing in mind: players on the Avs do not want to upset the people who sign their big paychecks, and one thing that really makes the Avs upset is when players, under orders not to talk to the media until they’ve been medically cleared, talk to the media before then. Most injured players are scared to even make eye contact with a reporter because of that team rule.
So, essentially we just have to keep waiting for when the team says Mueller is fully good to go again. But, again, they are on record as saying they think he’ll be at camp in uniform.
Let’s hope that Mueller’s path resembles that of Patrice Bergeron or Pierre-Marc Bouchard (two players who suffered from recurring problems but ultimately got their careers back on track) rather than someone like Marc Savard. His all-too-brief resurgence with Colorado was a great story. Seeing him do it again – and this time, for multiple seasons rather than several games – would generate an even better narrative.
(H/T to Puck Daddy.)