A lot of questions remain for many including Colorado Avalanche fans after the unexpected off-season turned in by Executive Vice President's Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy.
Everyone right now are looking at the Avs and wondering and even publicly stating, "After this off-season, will the Avalanche even make the Playoffs?" It is a fair question and with-out any hesitation, and maybe some small amount of Avalanche fan bias, I say yes! There is only one strict reason why, and that reason has several key events that include the 1997-2001 NHL seasons.
It had only been a few seasons since the Colorado Avalanche had won it all, Lord Stanley's Cup in the 1995-96 inaugural season. Coach Marc Crawford and newly acquired Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy had the Avs in overdrive. Their overall regular season record was nothing impressive 47-25-10-0, but it got them into the post season where they became Kings. However, like most cup winners, their next season saw them kicked out of the playoffs and for Head Coach Marc Crawford, his time behind the bench grew closer to an end.
The 1997-98 season would most certainly not be Crawford's friend but that of his enemy. Colorado dropped a 39-26-17-0 season. Its funny to say but after 3 full seasons it was the worst record in the history of the Colorado Avalanche, leaving no choice but to replace Coach Marc Crawford with an up and coming coach in Bob Hartley. Bob's mission, get the Avalanche back above 40 wins! In 1998-99 the Avs made some key trades that saw guys like; Rene Corbet, Keith Jones, Ted Crowley, Eric Lecroix, and Wade Belak (may he RIP.) leave Colorado and bring in Theo Fleury, Shjon Podein, Dale Hunter, Greg De Vries, Cam Russell and Chris Dingman. With a stellar line up Colorado racked up a 44-28-10-0 record placed 1st in the northwest before getting dumped in the Conference finals by the soon to be cup champion Dallas Stars.
But like every year, July 1st came and saw the Avs lose Theo Fleury to the New York Rangers, Dale Hunter to retirement at age 38 and many more names came and went. The Avs did not let that discourage them as this season would alter the Avs line up and lead them to their 2nd championship. Denver would trade all-time most hated NHL player (In my eyes and many others.) Claude Lemieux (Congratulations to his son on being drafter 31st overall by Buffalo at the 2014 NHL Draft.) along with a Conditional Draft pick (#57 overall - Matt DeMarchi) and swap 1st round picks (#22 overall David Hale.) to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Brian Rolston a conditional 2001 Pick and the 1st round swap (#27 overall Martin Samuelsson.) Later in the season Colorado lands one of the biggest trades of all-time in NHL history. Avalanche would trade to Boston; Martin Grenier, Samuel Pahlsson, recently acquired Brian Rolston and a 2000-2001 1st Round pick (Boston's Option - which Boston took 2000 #27 overall pick and drafter Martin Samuelsson.) in exchange for Dave Andreychuk and #77 Raymond Bourque. Riding on high Colorado would finish their season on a low note with a 42-28-11-1 record (Yes, there were ties in this day in age... makes me feel old...) They would once again finish 1st in the northwest only to lose once again in the conference final to the Dallas Stars - who lost in Game 6 to the New Jersey Devils.
After the huge trade and the off-season Colorado digs for gold by sending 2001, 2003 1st round picks, Aaron Miller and Adam Deadmarsh to Los Angeles in exchange for Steven Reinprecht and #4 Rob Blake! The already flying Avalanche would catapult themselves into the playoffs, confronting a 42-28-11-1 record with a president's trophy winning 52-16-10-4 record and of course another 1st place finish in the northwest. The Avalanche would find themselves crushing the St. Louis Blues in a 4 games to 1 fashion in the Western Conference final to take on the defending Champs, New Jersey Devils. All-time greats Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur (Patty's better!) would duke it out to a game 7 where a sophomore would make his name. 20 year old Alex Tanguay would explode for the night of his life as he buried 2 goals and the game winner in a 3-1 defeat of the Devils, bringing home the Avalanche's second cup to Mile High!
Why is this important? Well for one, it is history, and honestly it is important to what Sakic and Roy..... Sakic is doing. He realized that you have to lose key guys, Deadmarsh, Keith, Lemieux to become more than what they were. Sometimes what your record is, 47-25-10-0, does not matter on your chance to win the cup. Yeah 52-22-0-8 was a great record (better than 2000-2001 season.) but that doesn't mean anything when there is a lack of veteran experience.
The Avalanche say goodbye to Stastny and Parenteau and welcome in Breire, Stuart and Iginla. I am not saying we will win the cup this season by any means, but I am saying, Avs fans, give it some time, yes it has been far more than 6 years in this rebuild but man no one could rebuild like Pierre Lacroix could. I hope it does not take Sakic 6 years, but maybe a few for sure. Bring in that experience, let the kids develop real NHL leadership skills and watch them fly. Lose a few guys, one in my eyes was far too cocky for this roster and the other Roy didn't seem to care for. And you know what maybe being the 6th, 7th or 8th seed could win us a cup...or two, eh LA?
Notable mention: Colorado signed defensemen Maxim Noreau (Which I already put a post on this.) After a concussion in 2010 he fell off the radar, but your guy Matt Duchene, loves him. Here are some stats: http://www.eliteprospects...m/player.php?player=12153