In this, the silver anniversary of the Colorado Avalanche, there is a hunger, bordering on the feverish, that the season will end with players hoisting a 35-pound hunk of silver over their heads. A franchise that once considered deep playoff runs as fait accompli, one that achieved Stanley Cup championship success two of its first six seasons in Denver and Western Conference finals appearances in another three, is now coming up on a more ignominious anniversary: the Avs are two years away from the 20th anniversary of its last playoff run longer than two rounds.
The Colorado Avalanche of 2021 knows its regular season will be short. But it is expecting the playoffs to be as long as it was in the good, old days. After many years in which Avs players averted eyes when asked if they could win it all, this year’s group is pledging to boldly go where no Avs team has gone before, at least in the last 20 calendar years: back to the Stanley Cup Finals. And. from there, to bring Lord Stanley’s silver punchbowl back to the Mile High City.
The man in charge of the Avs, Joe Sakic, has lifted that Cup overhead twice before, as a player. Five seasons after being the general manager of the laughingstock team of the NHL, Sakic has rebuilt it into one of deep, quality talent, most of it still very young and one that seemingly has much more than just a one-year window to win it all. Yet, Sakic knows full well how fast things can now change in the NHL. If ever there was a year in which the Avs could get back to the top, this would seem to be it, so why waste time? Which is why there is some real pressure on this team again, but a kind that Sakic, his coach and his players seem to be welcoming with outstretched gloves.