I went to the Avalanche game on President’s Day. They defeated the Nashville Predators 6-5l in a wild game that saw the Avs seem to do their best to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory as they so often do.
As I watched thinking about how I knew jackshit about most of these players, many of whose jerseys I was trying to sound out for the very first time (Palushaj? Uhhh…), I looked toward the rafters and saw hanging there Roy, Bourque, Sakic, Forsberg.
I then realized how spoiled I was growing up on the Avalanche hockey I did and had the grim realization that Colorado hockey in my lifetime will likely never be as good as that ever again. I unintentionally bummed myself out with that one, which I was not looking to do considering it was a Monday afternoon, and instead of some dumbass conference call or project update, I was drinking beer with my wife at an NHL game. So I drank more of that beer, felt better, and went on my way.
But the point still stands.
As of this writing, the Avs are the second-to-worst team in the entire West and have looked listless all year (outside of ending the Blackhawks unbeaten streak a few days ago). I’m not terribly optimistic about the future either considering the NHL’s byzantine salary cap structure and the forced parity that seems to have vexed Francois Giguere into making shitty move after shitty move, followed by Greg Sherman, who hasn’t fared much better.
I thought about the Avalanche as I read this article about what appears to be the impending reprieve we’re about to get on the Yankees’ reign of terror from the last 20 years. The Yankees are poised to suck this year to the delight of basically everyone, but we can be assured this reprieve will almost assuredly not last and they’ll return to form within a couple of years.
The Avs I’m less sure about. Before the age of the salary cap, the Avalanche had more talent cycle through the organization than what felt like most of the rest of the NHL combined. The team, at various points, featured Hall of Famers like Sakic, Roy, Forsberg, Bourque, Rob Blake, Theo Fleury, Milan Hejduk (the only link to the past that remains), Owen Nolan, Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne. They were featured alongside regular All-Star Game attendees Adam Foote, Adam Deadmarsh, Chris Drury, Alex Tanguay, Claude Lemieux, Valeri Kamensky, Sandis Ozolinsh, Uwe Krupp and Scott Young. And then there were roughly 50 other guys who I loved at a level slightly below that like Stephane Yelle, Dan Hinote, Marek Savots (I like to get blottos!), Mike Ricci, Mike Keane and Curtis Leschyshyn.
It was an absolute embarrassment of riches from the very first season of Colorado Avalanche hockey (Stanley Cup, baby!) until, meh, starting in ’06 maybe when they missed the playoffs for the first time in their existence. The last two years in particular they’ve pretty much licked balls, and you can feel the air getting sucked out of the building every time this team makes a stupid mistake (which happens plenty). I am no Joe Sacco fan, which is a post for another time, but he deserves just as much blame as our crappy GMs for the team’s performance.
It’s weird when you’re in the middle of a dynasty because you don’t think about when it’ll be over. Why would you? You should be enjoying every second of having the incredible luck of everything breaking the way of your favorite team. But at some point it will end, and your team becomes just another team that sits somewhere in the middle tier (or, worse, near the bottom) along with all the other also-rans.
One thing that struck me in that Yankee piece was that kids who will graduate high school this year have experienced only one season where the Yankees did not make the playoffs. That’s fucking brain-scrambling to have dominance that lasts that long. At least I can remember when I was a kid and the Yankees sucked huge elephant cock and finished in last place for two years in a row.
I wonder what those kids will feel when the Yankees have to rebuild. The landscape of baseball is changing, and I suspect it will be difficult for the Yankees to establish dominance the way they once did. That’s certainly been true of the Avalanche.
However Yankee fans react, I don’t especially care, but I know we’ll hear about it. All I know is that no matter how the Avalanche do from here on out, I will always remember their decade of dominance, and how the sweetness of all that victory might have spoiled me in the short term, the memory will live on forever and gets sweeter every year.