Fresh from being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame few days ago, Avalanche great Peter Forsberg and his family made an appearance at the Pepsi Center last night to give thanks to the Avalanche fans that have supported him in his great career.
This was also a chance to enjoy his night with the Avalanche fans for one last time. He wanted to absorb the cheers that he was used to hearing from his playing days. He wanted that moment one last time after missing the adulation in recent years. Retirement can make one miss all the good times a great player has with the fans, and that’s what Forsberg is experiencing.
Forsberg’s return and his induction to the Hall of Fame certainly have Avalanche fans pining for the good old days. That was when the Avalanche entertained Colorado for the first six years they came to town after spending all those years in Quebec.
In those six years, the Avalanche contended for Stanley Cups every year. They had a roster of Hall of Fame players such as Patrick Roy, Rob Blake and Sakic, Foote and Forsberg. There was lot of winning every night to the point it became easy. They brought buzz and energy to LoDo during the winter and spring.
Fans were spoiled when the Avs were winning games year after year. It became a birthright. There was always disappointment when the Avs fell short of their goal of winning the Stanley Cup. There were jilted fans who thought the Avs should have won more than two Cups.
After watching bad hockey in recent years, those same fans are now appreciating how good they had it back in the day. They understood it’s hard to replace great players. They figured out winning was not easy anymore when the franchise had to develop young players after they watched a ready-to-be-made championship team come to town in 1995. They found out being an old team can be a depressing process.
It was a great run for the Avalanche when looking back. For all the criticism they received for not winning more than two Stanley Cups, the Devils and Red Wings did not win that many either during that era. Those two teams were contending for Stanley Cups along with the Avs from the mid-90s to early 2000, and they only won few. The Devils won three in their heyday, and so did the Red Wings.
The point is it’s hard to win more than one Stanley Cup. So much good fortune has to go their way. Guys have to endure so much injuries and stamina in a long season. There are so many good teams in the NHL.
It would have been bad if the Avs did not win the Cup during that era. They could have been the Sharks, which they would be known as a talented team that could never win a Stanley Cup. With so many great players, they have to find a way to win at least one, and they did that.
This is a team that played in five Western Conference Finals after they came to town. This is a franchise that made the playoffs for 10 straight years after they settled in Denver in 1995. So many teams would love to do that.
The Avs have had down years since their stars retired. They have to be bad to get great players such as Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene.
Their struggles were tough to watch, and they basically lost their fanbase after years of losing. Now, they are getting some of the fans back after they overachieved last year by winning the Northwest Division.
Still, it’s going to take awhile for this group of Avalanche to match what those great Avalanche teams did. Maybe they never can. We have to wait and see.
The Avs have a good management team in Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy, and they have great young players that are difference makers in Ryan O’Reilly, MacKinnon and Duchene. Still, there’s no guarantee they can win it all. They have to show they can.
Last year was a start of something special. Now, the Avs have to sustain it by making the playoffs and winning a round.
That may not be easy from watching the Avalanche this season. So far, they have been inconsistent in their 6-9-5 start to the season. They have struggled to score goals at times. Semyon Varlamov has struggled as the Avalanche goaltender prior to his groin injury. Their defense has been poor at times.
Roy has struggled to get his players to play together this year. It’s been a rough go. Everyone thought the Avs finally got it together after beating the Rangers and Devils on the road last week, but they were often a step slow against the Capitals in their 3-2 loss last night.
Who knows what they will do this year?
This year’s struggles have given Avs fans perspective about how good they had it when the franchise came to town.
Sure, this group of Avs can make their own history. But odds are this group won’t have the pedigree and run the Avs had from 1996-to-2002. Outside of MacKinnon, there are not many future Hall of Famers on that roster. They also don’t have a goaltender who can steal games on his own in Varlamov.
That team was special that this current Avs team can’t replace.
The current struggles and lean years certainly make Avs fans yearn for the good old days, and that’s why Forsberg’s presence symbolized in last night’s Avalanche’s contest with the Capitals.
It’s too bad they took it for granted when the Avs were great.
It shouldn’t have taken until now to realize how good those times were.
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