If you’re of a certain age, you think of the Colorado Avalanche as a villain, You were a fan when they carpetbagged their way into the Western Conference from Quebec, the fully formed monster simply bestowed upon Denver. You remember how they eliminated whatever chance those mid-90s Hawks teams had, which was basically miracle-ing their ass past the Red Wings somehow. You remember how they routinely bashed the brains in of the Hawks.
If you want to get more detailed you remember Tony Amonte shredding his knee in ’96, costing the Hawks any chance they had of winning that series. Or Gary Suter getting mugged at his own blue line to turn Game 5. Or Eddie Belfour furiously searching for the puck in double-OT as Sandis Ozolinch rammed it home to end that era for the Hawks.
You remember the two parades the Avs got, feeling like they never earned it. They weren’t worthy. It seemed so unfair.
Fear not, because since that era, there has been no team more irrelevant than the Colorado Avalanche.
The Avs got Ray Bourque his Cup in 2001. Their defense of it went to the conference final next year before losing to the Red Wings, again. And they haven’t been to a conference final since. 16 years and counting since the Avs saw the final four. Here’s a list of teams that have also not made a conference final in that time:
Columbus Blue Jackets
New York Islanders
In that time, you can hardly think of a player or two that define them. Joe Sakic was gone in 2009. Peter Forsberg before that. Does Matt Duchene really move the needle? Gabriel Landeskog? Not until Nathan MacKinnon shows up, and we still don’t know what that will be yet.
The Panthers and Jackets don’t have any pedigree. The Islanders’ is buried in the past. Too much longer, and the Avs will get to say the same as well.
Game #38 Preview Suite