There’s no question the current Avalanche young stars have been hearing about the moments Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote, Patrick Roy, Milan Hejduk, Chris Drury and Ray Bourque created during the Avalanche’s Stanley Cup championship run. How could they not? The great moments are ingrained in the young players through the media, fans and organization.
As much as the current Avalanche players appreciate the former members of the Avalanche creating their history, they get tired of hearing it. They want to create their own history. It’s about creating their own brand. The desire is there for them to give the Avalanche their third Stanley Cup in franchise history.
It isn’t only enough they resuscitated the franchise after several down years. They know their legacy will be judged on whether or not they can win the Stanley Cup. For guys like Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Paul Stastny, Nathan MacKinnon, Tyson Barrie and Semyon Varlamov, the opportunity is now. These players are ready to embrace it.
The Avs are good enough to win the Cup. There is a reason they are using the Twitter hashtag of #WhyNotUs. They have the firepower on offense to win it all along with efficient goaltending and excellent coaching. One thing about this team is they are mature enough to handle the postseason moment. It’s not about experience anymore with young players excelling in the spotlight.
Duchene’s injury shouldn’t have an effect on the Avalanche. They have scoring depth. That’s a credit to how the team have developed players such as high draft choices and middle of the round picks. In a way, this team is more than Duchene.
This season is already a resounding success. No one expects much. Avalanche fans are happy to enjoy this ride after years of bad hockey to the point the franchise became irrelevant in Colorado. Don’t tell that to the players, though. They did not play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs just to bow out. They know they have an opportunity they have to seize. They don’t need Roy to tell them that, either, and that should be encouraging.
The players know success and fame can be fleeting. There are no guarantees they can have a long lasting success. It’s hard to win championships in sports, so they are not going to keep saying next year or they will be back again. There are too many great teams in the NHL that the Avalanche will play against for years to come. The Blackhawks, Bruins, Kings and Ducks are teams that can have lasting success for the next few years, so the Avalanche won’t have an easy time of winning the Cup.
For the Avalanche young stars, there is a sense of urgency. They will not say it publicly, but they know what’s at stake. They want to create their own dynasty. They want to create a new tradition. If they can win it all right now, they don’t have to hear about the past. It can get annoying hearing about what the Avalanche greats used to do. These young stars have pride.
This is why no one should worry about the Avalanche overlooking the Wild in the first round. This is a group of self-starters that is responsible enough to know overlooking an opponent can create bad karma and poor habits.
It’s hard to believe these guys are going to be overwhelmed with the postseason experience. They have the right temperament. They know how to play the game, and they know how to handle adversity when the going gets tough. They know how to win. They are resilient. They don’t fear anyone. This is an even-kneel group.
Preparation comes a long way when it comes to winning playoff games. There’s no question Roy will have them ready to go. This is a disciplined group that does not commit penalties or not get caught up with goonery by other teams.
Plus, the Avalanche head coach has been through the playoff wars as a player and a coach. He won couple of Stanley Cups for this franchise. His experience will help the young players, and that’s invaluable.
Stanley Cup Playoffs define the players. They create a reputation of being clutch and unclutch. They either make heroes or goats. For these Avs, they get it. It’s not about being happy to be playing in the second season.
They know this is their time. Enough about the past and the future.
It’s about now.
Contact or follow Leslie Monteiro at @LightRodWriter