The two most important positions in Denver sports are quarterback and goaltender. The Broncos and Avalanche have had a revolving door at those two positions since John Elway and Patrick Roy retired. Both teams have invested a lot in their newest heir The two most important positions in Denver sports are quarterback and goaltender. The Broncos and Avalanche have had a revolving door at those two positions since John Elway and Patrick Roy retired. Both teams have invested a lot in their newest heir apparents. The Broncos spent a first round pick on Tim Tebow and the Avalanche traded a first and second round pick for Semyon Varlamov. The question is, “Which team’s search is finally over?” The short answer is that the Avs are closer to stability in goal than the Broncos are to having the same under center, but here’s a closer examination.
As far as track record goes, there is no contest. Varlamov has appeared in 59 games since he came into the league and is among the Washington Capitals’ all-time leaders in goals allowed and save percentage. His playoff record is a pedestrian 10-9, but that is still better than many of his predecessors. Tebow on the other hand, has just one season under his belt and only started three games. He completed half of his passes and lost two of the three games. Varlamov has proven himself much more than Tebow has, even though that’s not Tebow’s fault.
Most players’ success depends on the team around him. To put it nicely, neither of these teams are elite. Tebow has a few weapons on offense, but the running game is mediocre and the offensive line has a lot of holes. The Broncos defense should be improved with the addition of a defensive-minded coach like John Fox along with Von Miller and Rahim Moore. However, Tebow and the offense will still have to put up a lot of points to win.
The Avalanche are almost a mirror image of the Broncos. They have a few gifted offensive players like Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly and they got an NHL-ready goal scorer in Gabriel Landeskog with their top pick in this year’s draft. However, Milan Hejduk is another year older and Paul Statsny is overrated. The team will not give Varlamov a lot of scoring support. The organization has, to their credit, bolstered the blue line with the signing of Jan Hejda and the drafting of Duncan Siemens. Varlamov will have more protection in front of him than Tebow will.
This category seems to be a push, though. Both players will have to carry their teams at times, something that no young player should have to do.
A key for a young player is having a good mentor to help them grow. The Avalanche signed Jean-Sebastien Giguere for that very reason. He has won a Stanley Cup and has been an elite goalie in the NHL. He has also been quoted as saying he looks forward to working with Varlamov.
Kyle Orton, on the other hand, is not the best mentor for Tebow. A good mentor has to be willing to let the mentee step into the spotlight. Orton still believes, as he should, that he deserves to be the starting quarterback in Denver. He worries more about his own success than Tebow’s which does not help. Orton’s track record in the NFL is not comparable to Giguere’s. Orton has not won a lot in his career and has never received personal accolades. He is not a player Tebow should mirror his game after. Varlamov wins this category easily.
The last criteria in this debate is based on is the intangible. Tebow gets into the win column on this one. He has been called, “Captain Intangible” and has proved he will not fail for lack of trying. He will work just as hard, if not harder, as his peers to become the best player he can possibly be. Varlamov may not have the same qualities. Until he was traded to Colorado, his plans were to move back to his native Russia to play rather than be third on the depth chart. Could that mean he does not want to settle for being second fiddle (or in this case third)? Absolutely. However, if his dream is to be an NHL goaltender, wouldn’t he want to stick it out until he got his opportunity? Varlamov is not a bad guy, but Tebow would never play in the CFL rather than be a backup in the NFL.
There is so much for both of these players to prove and when all is said and done, maybe both players will make fans miss Elway and Roy a little bit less. For now though, it seems the Colorado Avalanche have their best chance to fill the big shoes their legend left.