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The Soapbox

One fan’s personal goodbye to departed Avs players



Here is the second in what I hope will be a long, ongoing series of guest columns from subscribers of Colorado Hockey Now. You’re passionate about your team, and I like hearing from you, and reading your thoughts on the team. I call it “The Soapbox.” If you want to write what’s on your mind on the Avs, email me your column at

Keep in mind: I may have to be a meanie and not run it, if it doesn’t make any sense or some other reason. But I doubt that would happen too often. I’m a good editor too, and I like hearing from diverse voices – not just my own. I imagine you feel the same way sometimes! (don’t answer that).

Today’s guest column is by Karen Cherrett. Follow her on Twitter here.

By Karen Cherrett

It happens at the end of every season, but that doesn’t make it any easier. We lose some of our favorite players. Whether they were an Av for just one season or more, the players become part of our family, the Avalanche family, because that’s what it feels like as a fan, one big family. The players, the team and us fans. We embrace them as soon as they pull on that burgundy and blue sweater. They are the ones we cheer for every game because they are representing the team that we love.

This off-season has seen some of our very favorites leave.

Matt Calvert (Calvy) #11. The bulldog, the terrier, the guy who gave us short-handed goals, and gave 110% every time he hit the ice. He was part of our fourth line dynamos, that line that Beds put on the ice when he needed the game to change. And it did, because of the conviction and dedication of Matt Calvert. We as fans all felt dread when Matt suffered a concussion again earlier in the season. Collectively we held our breath hoping that it would not be a career-ending injury. He didn’t return for the season and then the inevitable happened; he announced his retirement. No, please no. 

We understand, and it hurts. We are going to miss Matt Calvert each and every night. Our fourth line just won’t be the same.

Pierre Edouard Bellemare (Belly) #41. Who will forget this man’s smile and the fun he had on the ice. Our fourth-line center. He and Matty playing a big part on our team, making those plays in front of the net to snatch a goal when you didn’t think anyone was going to get one past the opposition’s goalie. The ‘Belly’ bumps at the end of the game had you laugh and know that he was still there. 

Just like Matt, PE found a home with us fans in Colorado. He was with us for two seasons, it felt like more. We’ll miss you Belly.

Philipp Grubauer (Gru) #31. Ball Arena isn’t going to be the same without the “Gruuuuu” chant when this man saves the day stopping that puck from going to the back of the net. He came to us from the Capitals three seasons ago and it took a little while for us to get used to him after our Varly left. What is it with goaltenders? It feels as though they are the backbone of the team and yet we take longer than usual to accept them. Strange, that.
We’d all been sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for GM Joe to ink Gru’s extension and it didn’t happen. And all of a sudden we have no starting goalie. Well, we do know. Let’s go Kemps!. Gru will certainly be missed by the fans, and we’ll cheer for him in Seattle, coz that’s just what we do.

Ryan Graves (Gravy) #27 Right before the expansion draft he disappeared on us. Traded away to the Devils. What? Don’t think anyone saw that coming. Gravy played a strong part on our D core. Was he always perfectly on point? No. Will he be missed by us? Yes! Enjoy your new team Gravy. The Avs’ ice, without the flow, just won’t be the same.

Conor Timmins (Timbits) #22 – 31 times this past season he played on the ice. We watched him become stronger and have more confidence in himself and his play. After his serious injury it was fantastic to watch. I for one was cheering him on big time. When GM Joe gave Timmins his qualifying offer, everyone was happy. We could see him prospering even more with the team this season. Then it happened. He got traded. There was a collective “No” from some fans. Others considered it an okay trade. We will miss watching you grow and prosper into an even more confident player Conor.

Joonas Donskoi (Donny/Donkey) #72. We got this guy two seasons ago and he became part of the magic that turned our one-line-only team into a four-strong team. He was one player that I wasn’t sure about when he arrived, and he grew on me. That quiet achiever. When he and Andre Burakovsky were on the ice that usually meant more scoring chances and of course that’s exactly what we fans love.
With the Kraken expansion draft, our breaths were held waiting to see who GM Joe would protect. Once Gravy was traded it seemed inevitable that it would be Joonas, who would be one of a couple of players likely to go. And it happened. We lost him to the Kraken.

The one great thing was seeing him be happy about the fact that Gru was joining him over there on his new team. Have fun Joonas. We’ll miss you.

Brandon Saad (the Saadfather) #20. This was the guy that was still there, still there, still there and I was ever hopeful that GM Joe would pull out the checkbook for him. Sure, he’d only been with us for one season, but, hey, he quickly became a fan favorite. You knew when Brandon was on the ice. He would get in and get things done. I’ve loved watching him play in an Avs jersey and I’m sad he’s no longer part of the team that is fighting for the Cup. Bye Brandon, thanks for the memories.

Not only have we lost some of our favorite Avs, but also a bunch of guys that showed us how valuable they were by being there when the team needed them this season. I’m talking about the Colorado Eagles players that came into the team when injuries struck, or we needed a shift of pace.

Liam O’Brien (Big Tuna) He was that big strong player who threw his weight around, just when you needed it. By OB and thanks for being there when we needed you.

TJ Tynan (Tines) TJ didn’t play a lot of games up with the big guys this season, but the few that he did, he played his part. 

Dan Renouf (Roofer?) Dan got to play a few more games than TJ, up with the Avs and was a contributor. 

To each and every one of these players, we fans say “Thank You.” Thank you for being a part of our Avs family, thank you for contributing to the team in a year that was strange because of covid, and so close to achieving the team goal of winning that Cup. We appreciate each and every one of you.

Yesterday on Twitter the Carolina Hurricanes posted a graphic of Ian Cole, who has now joined their team in this off-season. Why am I mentioning this, because the graphic was of him in his Avs jersey? He didn’t play for us last season, yet he is an Av and will always be an Av because of wearing it. At least that’s my take on what it means to wear burgundy and blue.

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