ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Colorado Avalanche will be hoping to rebound in 2013-14 after a three-season absence from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A return to form by Paul Stastny would be a big help.
Stastny had 79 points in 81 games in 2009-10, when he represented the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver as a 24-year-old center. But Stastny's offensive production has slipped in each of the past three seasons. He had 24 points in 40 games in 2012-13 as the Avalanche finished last in the Western Conference.
The son of Hockey Hall of Famer Peter Stastny is not a lock to make the U.S. team for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, unlike some of the others in his age bracket who were on the roster in Vancouver. He has to prove he deserves a spot, and a new regime with a desire to improve the Avalanche as an organization might be just what he needs to return to his elite form -- and to the Olympics.
"I honestly believe it is going to be a big change with the new blood, with new coaching and the new management," Stastny said Monday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. "It is almost a whole new, clean slate and we want to bring it back to the glory days of the Avalanche. I think with those guys running the team, first and foremost you have two hall of famers in Joe [Sakic] and Patty [Roy] that everyone is going to listen to and respect. Adam Foote is going to help out.
"Right off the bat, you recognize that is no-nonsense, straight to business and let's get back to the winning ways that we used to be at. I think a lot of guys are excited and we're going to be on the same page. We're better than what our record showed. We've got a pretty deep team if you look at our roster and everyone is excited about that."
Roy and Sakic are legends in Colorado, and they will try to restore what was once one of the NHL's model franchises. There is plenty of talent at forward; healthy seasons for Gabriel Landeskog and Steve Downie, along with the arrival of No. 1 pick Nathan MacKinnon, could make the Avalanche offense formidable.
While the Americans are blessed with great depth in goal and on the wings, the same cannot be said at center. David Backes and Ryan Kesler, if healthy, are locks to make the U.S. team. Stastny will be battling for a spot along with players such as Derek Stepan and Joe Pavelski.
Stastny wants to fix the problems in Colorado first and worry about Sochi after that.
"It is tough to think about two different jobs at once," he said. "If you take care of what you do, and for me first and foremost that's what I have to do with Colorado, everything else will take care of itself. We are going to have a lot of guys who want to play in the Olympics for their countries. I know all of us want to get together and start winning because it will help us have individual success."
Another reason for Stastny to believe a personal turnaround is forthcoming is his performance at the 2013 World Championships. Stastny had three goals and nine points in eight games to help the United States claim a surprising bronze medal.
"I want to just play like I did there, play at ease again and just have fun," Stastny said. "You see it all the time -- I think early on in your career you go out and play with nothing to lose and then sometimes you put a little too much pressure on yourself when things start to go wrong. At the world championships we had no expectations and we had a good group of guys."