I had a tough time getting this piece off the ground, because, well, how would you like it if you were in this list of the five most obscure Avalanche players ever? If one were snarky, it could have been retitled “The five Avalanche players who had absolutely the least amount of impact in their time in Denver” or “Wait, this guy actually played for the Avalanche? I had no idea!”
But we here at Colorado Hockey Now don’t want to be mean. In that sense, your humble correspondent here has definitely mellowed some in his later years. The young me, coming up as a reporter, thought you had to be snarky and snide at times, that you had to stick that knife in a little. Not that I won’t rip a player or team’s performance still, when it’s warranted, but you don’t have to be mean about it.
“Tough, but fair”, should be what every reporter strives for. And, as I’ve learned too: it’s OK to actually be nice to people you cover.
I’ll tell you one story of when I started to rethink how snarky and “tough” I thought I had to be. It was during the 2012-13 season, I believe. Matt Duchene, at that time, was someone who followed me on Twitter. We always had a pretty good rapport, even swapped a few DMs at times (shhh, don’t tell Avs PR).
One night I made some snide comment about one of his teammates, Chuck Kobasew. I think I said something to the equivalent of “He has no heart” or something like that. Duchene unfollowed me, and a day or two later, after a practice, I might have asked him why – or maybe he just came right out and told me, I don’t quite recall. But he said that what I said about Kobasew was bush league and unfair, and that he just couldn’t follow a guy who talked about one of his teammates like that.
I understood. And, the more I thought about it, the worse I felt about the whole thing. I am a person who enjoys razzing others, in that old-school, snapping-towels-in-the-locker-room-toward-each-other kind of way. But I don’t like bullies and I don’t like truly mean people. I think I was just mean, in this case toward Kobasew. It was a cheapshot, and Duchene started me more on a path of thinking more when I’m about to criticize a player.
“Don’t be a dick, Dater,” is basically what I started telling myself, when it came to writing about guys trying to do a job just like anyone else – even though, yes, it’s a magical job and this is the big leagues and people in the big leagues need to be able to handle the media spotlight, for better or worse, than, say, high school or college athletes.
So, all that said, here is my personal list of the five most obscure Avalanche players ever. I don’t know if I had a very good formula for inclusion on this list, but I know one thing I wouldn’t do is put guys on here who only played one or two games and that was it. Of course, guys like that are going to be obscure memories in the minds of even the most hardy of longtime Avs fans. They had to have at least stuck around a little while.
Being on this list doesn’t mean you sucked. Hey, you still made it to the highest league in the world! That’s more I can say, and you and you and you. It just means that, well, hey, you were just…
Never mind, on with the list:
JOEL PRPIC, 2000-01 SEASON
That’s about all I remember of Joel Prpic, who played three games for the Avs in their Stanley Cup-winning 2000-01 season. (Did I say three games would be the minimum for getting on this list, not just one or two?) Well, that and he was really tall (6-foot-7) and that he looked a lot like Adam Carolla.
Other than that, I don’t recall anything that Prpic did in any of his three games. I did look them up, however, and the Avs won all three games in which he played. There was an overtime 3-2 win over Calgary on Nov. 25, a 2-1 win over Phoenix on Nov. 29 and an 8-2 thumping of Boston on Feb. 21. He had no points and two penalty minutes with the Avs, averaging about 10 minutes per game. Hey, that was three wins for a team that won a Stanley Cup. (I’m sure that Prpic got a small share of the Avs’ money winnings for being champs). Prpic played 74 games for Hershey Bears otherwise in that season.
What happened with the rest of his career?
Here are Joel Prpic’s stats after leaving the Avs, courtesy of hockeydb.com.
What happened in those six years between Kokudo and Zagreb?
JAROSLAV HLINKA, 2007-08 SEASON
This guy played 63 games for the 2007-08 Avs, a team I covered, and I can’t recall a single thing about him. He scored eight goals, with 20 assists. He got close to half a point a game in his one season with Colorado.
Yet, I don’t know, I just can’t remember anything about him. No memorable plays, no memorable interviews, no nothing. The Avs were the only NHL team he ever played for. Otherwise, he had a long career playing in Europe, as you can see below.
I do remember hearing that maybe the Avs had stolen one of the best players in the world outside of North America, that Hlinka might go on to big things with the Avs. It turned out to be his only one in the league.
JORDAN KRESTANOVICH, 2001, 2004
I remember writing a couple of stories about this kid when he first came up to the Avs, that he might have a rosy future with them. It turned out to be a 22-game career with the Avs spread over four different seasons. He had no goals, two assists and six penalty minutes in those 22 games.
I recall he was a pretty tall, gangly kid who could skate pretty well but that he just couldn’t put the biscuit in the basket and seemed nervous much of the time.
Here’s how the rest of his career went:
MARC-ANDRE CLICHE, 2013-15
Quick, name one provable thing Marc-Andre Cliche did with the Avs in his 150 games with them? Quick, quick…
Cliche played 150 games with the Avs, and 151 in his NHL career (the other was with the Kings). He scored three goals in those 150 games, as a depth center, with 11 assists. Hey, he played 76 games for an Avs team that won the Central Division in 2013-14, along with seven playoff games. He contributed one goal and six assists in those 76 games.
But, yeah, for a guy who played a lot for the Avs for a couple years, I bet most of you couldn’t quite place his name at first.
The rest of his hockey career:
JEREMY SMITH, 2016-17 SEASON
He played 10 games in goal for the Avs of 2016-17, a 48-point outfit. His record: 1-6-1, with an .888 saves percentage and 3.54 goals-against average.
Fun fact: Smith is still playing pro hockey.