DENVER (AP) – Jean-Sebastien Giguere doesn’t regret boiling over and bristling about the lackluster play of his Colorado Avalanche teammates.
The veteran goaltender was simply speaking from the heart, he said, pointing to his chest as he sat in front of his locker Monday after a morning skate.
And something definitely needed to be vented to spark the underachieving Avs, who reside in last place in the Western Conference.
Giguere’s ire helped the team catch a little bit of fire, but it was too late as over the weekend the Avs were officially eliminated from the postseason for a third straight season.
He fumed after a loss to Calgary last week that some of the players were more focused on postseason vacation plans in Las Vegas than their performance on the ice. Since Giguere’s harsh criticism, the team is 2-0-1.
Giguere really couldn’t say anything sooner – wasn’t his time or place. Only when Giguere was back in the net on a more regular basis, filling in for the injured Semyon Varlamov, did he feel like it was his time to express his frustration.
As for his rant, well, he wouldn’t change a word.
“It’s too easy to look back and say, `I regret it and I’m sorry,'” said Giguere, who was starting in goal Monday night against a Columbus team that’s still in the thick of the playoff chase. “Too many people do that. Once you said it, you have to assume it. … The overall message that I wanted to throw out there I’m not disappointed with.”
Giguere’s message was clearly received by his teammates. They understood his irritation because many felt it, too. This is a team that ended the Chicago Blackhawks’ NHL record streak of earning at least one point in the first 24 games and then followed it up by knocking off San Jose on Matt Duchene’s goal just before the horn sounded to end overtime.
Then, they dropped eight of their next nine games and tumbled right out of the playoff chase.
“This feels awful,” Duchene said. “It’s so disappointing.”
As for Giguere’s outburst, Duchene thought it was right on.
“When a guy like Giggy speaks up, everybody listens,” Duchene said. “I think everyone maybe cranks it up a little bit because of that. We want to finish strong so we go into the summer with a good taste in our mouth.”
That’s precisely what Giguere wants to hear, because a majority of these players will be back next season.
Sure, there will be some tweaks to the roster – the organization may also take a hard look at coach Joe Sacco and general manager Greg Sherman since the team has only been to the postseason once in four years – but it’s on the players to work their way out of this rut.
“It’s never too late to start building on something positive and trying to change a losing attitude into a winning attitude,” Giguere said. “You could’ve let it go for the rest of the season, but the farther you let it go the harder it is to get back to winning.
“We’re a young team and need to learn how to win some games. For me, why not start now? At least you have something to work on.”
Asked why he didn’t intervene sooner, Giguere said, “I wasn’t playing.”
“It’s a little bit harder to do when you’re not playing,” added Giguere, who led Anaheim to the Stanley Cup title in 2007. “First, you (reporters) are not going to come see me for quotes, so it makes it a little bit harder.
“Second, I mean, it’s something that’s got to come from the heart. It’s something that has been building up.”
The Avalanche tried everything to prevent the season from slipping away, calling team meeting after team meeting. Nothing seemed to shake them out of their funk.
“I know we have character in this room,” Giguere said. “I truly believe our group can build something from that. Hopefully, we start going in the right direction.”
For Gabriel Landeskog, it’s been a season filled with growing pains in his first season as captain. He became the youngest leader in NHL history when he was given the “C” on his sweater on Sept. 4. He doesn’t mind Giguere stepping up and hardly feels as if Giguere is stepping on his toes.
“Giggy has all the respect in the world from everyone in here,” Landeskog said. “Him saying, `Enough is enough,’ is one of those things that was exactly what we needed. I’m learning every day. I’m learning every day from Giggy and those guys. I’m trying to soak it all in.”
– By Pat Graham, AP Sports Writer
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