It used to be such old hat to me as a Colorado Avalanche chronicler. Division title. Ho hum. Presidents’ Trophy, ho hum. Trips to the Western finals, ho hum. A Stanley Cup? No, that was never a ho-hum thing, even in those early glory years of the Avalanche, from 1995-2002. In six of the Avalanche’s first seven years in town, they made the Western finals six times and won the Cup twice.
I have to admit: it was the strangest damn sight I think I’ve ever seen tonight, Avalanche players lifting that big silver chalice again. When the clock finally hit all zeroes at Amalie Arena and Avalanche players started throwing their helmets and gloves in the air and started hugging each other, it really did seem unreal for a couple of minutes.
After ALL the struggles for this team the last, oh, 10 years or so. After so many ups and downs and playoff disappointments and through all that talk, talk, talk about “learning to win” and “learning from mistakes” and…yes, they really did learn from it all, didn’t they?
Here’s the best thing for all these guys: nobody can ever, ever, ever, ever take away what they accomplished on the mushy ice in Tampa tonight. These guys will have ups and downs to go in their lives. Some might not even be with the team much longer. But everybody who was on this team, along with coaches and support staff, will get their names chiseled on the Stanley Cup. They will be there, in some form, for all of eternity. That’s how powerful winning this thing is.
Some other thoughts, quotes, observations:
- The Avalanche defense in the third period was absolutely phenomenal. Didn’t give the Lightning a sniff.
- Artturi Lehkonen, with the game-winner. Just like we had it all drawn up, right? What a pickup by Joe Sakic at the deadline. And, he’ll be an Av for many years to come.
- Darcy Kuemper? He made us all nervous many times, but he got the job DONE. He’s a Stanley Cup champion goalie.
- Cale Makar’s year was just OK. Only a Norris Trophy, a Conn Smythe and a Stanley Cup. And he’s….23!
- Makar’s brother Taylor, also an Avs draftee, sat with him on the podium after the game.
- If Joe Sakic doesn’t win NHL executive of the year? Then, just never give out that award ever again.
- Jon Cooper: “We’re not done. Today is a crushing loss … but the Colorado Avalanche is one heck of a hockey team.”
- Cooper said this team is “right up there with the Islanders and the Oilers” of the 1980s. Not quite. A great run, but not that good. And, I’m sorry, but beating Montreal last year in a screwed-up playoff format – hats off, but that wasn’t a real Cup run. The format wasn’t their fault, but that wasn’t a real Cup IMO. Not trying to sound petty, but that’s how I feel.
- Oh man, I don’t really want to admit here the number of DaterJinxes I worked tonight, privately. It would be embarrassing. Some day, I’ll reveal. But, yeah, I worked it tonight.
- Nazem Kadri told his doubters they can “kiss my ass.”
- That’s why I love Naz.
- Can they keep him, though?
- Let’s address that another time soon.
- Andre Burakovsky had a broken ankle AND a broken thumb. And yet, he tried to play.
- He’s probably going to leave as a UFA though. It’s a shame he couldn’t play in the final few games. A real shame.
- Valeri Nichushkin was limping around all day, but he played – and played very well. As I said earlier today, skating on a bad foot can be different than walking on a bad foot.
- Nathan MacKinnon had a great Game 6. Perfect shot on his goal.
- He told Emily Kaplan: “Words can’t describe how I feel.”
- Erik Johnson and Gabe Landeskog, the best of friends now, sat on the bench in full uniform long after the game, just soaking it in, taking selfies and laughing and smiling.
- Stan and Josh Kroenke were both on the ice. Not a bad year for Stan the Man. A Super Bowl a few months ago as Rams owner, now a Cup. This is his second Cup as owner, by the way. He was there in 2001- having taken over not too long before from Bill Laurie.
- My son, Tommy, a huge Avs fan: “I won’t be able to sleep tonight dad.”
- The parade is Thursday.
- Five players – EJ, Landy, MacKinnon, Compher and Mikko, along with Bednar and Sakic – remain from 2016-17.
- Landeskog to old friend Lauren Gardner to NHL Network: “After 16-17 it could have been easy to fire the coach…after losing in the second round again, they could have blown it up again. But they just stuck with us.”