We, as Avalanche fans, have had it easy for a long time. The hard rebuilding of the early nineties was done in Quebec, with the team suffering horrendous losing streaks and lousy records. But with losing came high draft picks. Those top picks were mostly leveraged for more or better players to fill out the roster, and the year the Nordiques moved to Denver and became the Avalanche, they won the Cup.
Obviously, it's not hard to root for a team that won it all the first year they existed. And then, over the course of a decade, we got spoiled. The Avs won the Cup again in 2001 with one of the very best lineups ever assembled in the history of the NHL. They didn't miss the playoffs for more than a decade.
But last season, the pressures of the new salary cap and a couple of lousy trades took their toll. The Avs struggled through most of the season, habitually giving up leads and losing close games. It wasn't until game 65 that it dawned on them that they were in fact a hockey team capable of winning, at which point they started doing just that. The Avs finished the final 19 games of the season with an astonishing 15-2-2 run, a now-proven young goaltender and a superstar rookie center. But they missed the playoffs by one point.
Last season's ultimate disappointment separated the true fans from the bandwagoneers. Prior to 2006-07, the only real frustration the Avalanche community knew was losing in the second round of the playoffs a few times. Now we know better.
They get a bad rap, but you really have to respect Chicago Cubs fans. Their team hasn't won the World Series since 1908, nearly 100 years ago, and yet they fill the seats at Wrigley Field every single season clinging to the small hope that maybe this year will be different.
We, as Avalanche die-hards, don't have it so bad. It's only been six years since the last Cup, and the team has missed the playoffs only once in its entire history. That's not too shabby. On top of that, the roster is full of talent, both young and old, and the development system is absolutely filled with exciting, standout prospects.
We've had an easy history as fans of the Avalanche. Luckily for us, the future looks just as bright.