Mark Knudson’s Three Strikes Blog: Strike Three…
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Is the eighth-seed as good as it’s going to get for the Avalanche?
STRIKE THREE: As fans, we’re all very happy to see the Colorado Avalanche back in the NHL play-offs for a second straight year. Good times at the Pepsi Center these days.
Ok, so it didn’t start out very well, with a 4-0 whipping by the Calgary Flames in game one of first round the best of seven. Like last year, the eighth (last) seeded Avs are facing the top seed in the Western Conference. They battled hard before bowing to top seeded Nashville in six games last spring. A similar outcome is likely this time around as well.
It’s been a roller coaster season for the Avalanche, who looked like world beaters at the start before slumping badly in the middle. Another late season rush pushed them past Chicago, Arizona and Minnesota and into the post season. There was much rejoicing.
And that’s great. No complaints. Just a question:
Is this as good as it’s going to get?
I mean, I’m old enough to remember when the #1 v #8 play-off match-up featured a top-seeded team from Colorado, not always the other way around. During the glory days of the franchise, it was unthinkable for them to not win the division and be a high play-off seed at worst. It was Lord Stanley or bust.
Now we are just happy making the post season?
Remember, only two teams in this market have ever won it all. The Colorado Avalanche has won the Cup twice. They’ve proven it possible and set a high bar. Will there ever be a third? What has to happen in order to Colorado to return to the NHL elite?
Actually, the amateur draft has been pretty good to the Avs, and they have the fourth overall pick again this summer. The young talent is coming in. What seems to be missing is the deft touch of a General Manager like Pierre Lacroix, who took the young core of the Quebec Nordiques (who became the Avalanche in 1995) and added key free agent pieces to create a championship team. The kind of wheeling and dealing that Lacroix was able to pull off during his tenure has been noticeably absent since he retired.
There have been moves of course. They traded for defenseman Eric Johnson – a former first round pick whose never been fully embraced here – and we able to do well in terms of return on investment when they unloaded Matt Duchene last season.
But there’ve been no trades like Lacroix pulled off, like bringing in Hall of Famers to be Patrick Roy, Rob Blake or Ray Bourque. Nothing close.
Trading for Roy early in the 1995-96 season was THE trade that moved Colorado from pretender to contender. It transformed the franchise.
If this franchise is ever going to get to not be the lower-seeded underdog in a play-off series, we need another similar such move now.
Wanna argue? Hit me up on Twitter @MarkKnudson41.