Colorado Avalanche More Than Just the Youngest Team in the League

Though the season rests firmly on the guillotine awaiting execution, the future does not.

We hear announcers, especially from away game feeds, say it all the time: "The Colorado Avalanche are the youngest team in the National Hockey League." Are they really? The short answer: yes. The long answer: well, it's kind of a long answer.

Youth may be measured in age, but experience is measured in games played. A "young" team may not necessarily play like it if they have long mileage. An "old" team may not have nearly as much experience as their average age would suggest. So, what does that mean for the Avs? Let's find out.

Below is a list of all 30 teams ranked from youngest to oldest by average age (Avg. Age). Surprise, surprise -- the boys of burgundy and blue sit up top with an average of 25.6. To the right of this figure sits the combined number of regular season games played (Reg. Season GP) by every player in every season of their NHL careers for the listed team. So, for Colorado you would take Matt Duchene's 212 regular season games played + Jamie McGinn's 215, and so on. Ditto for playoff games played (Playoff GP), except only counting post-season games dressed. The far right column simply tallies the number of players aged 32 and up (32+), because 32 is different than 22.


Team Avg. Age* Reg. Season GP Playoff GP 32+
1 Colorado 25.6 7,039 413 Three
2 Toronto 26.2 7,169 278 -
3 Nashville 26.5 8,865 609 Two
4 Buffalo 26.5 8,025 562 One
5 Los Angeles 26.5 8,297 581 Three
6 Columbus 26.5 7,619 271 Four
7 NY Rangers 26.5 8,239 434 Three
8 Winnipeg 26.6 7,649 329 Two
9 St. Louis 27 9,195 486 Five
10 NY Islanders 27 7,418 379 Six
11 Montreal 27 8,617 738 Six
12 Carolina 27.1 7,455 348 Two
13 Edmonton 27.2 8,945 425 Five
14 Minnesota 27.2 7,659 338 Three
15 Chicago 27.4 10,851 854 Six**
16 Ottawa 27.6 8,744 565 Five
17 Calgary 27.7 11,216 471 Seven
18 Washington 27.8 10,891 652 Seven
19 San Jose 28 10,804 1,082 Seven
20 Vancouver 28 10,713 993 Three
21 Dallas 28.1 9,713 512 Six
22 Philadelphia 28.3 12,928 1,200 Nine**
23 Tampa Bay 28.4 10,044 634 Eight**
24 Phoenix 28.5 12,608 547 Seven
25 Anaheim 28.5 9,839 580 Seven**
26 Pittsburgh 28.6 10,708 1,007 Eight
27 Florida 29.1 11,437 790 Ten
28 Detroit 29.2 11,456 1,557 Nine**
29 Boston 29.4 11,843 1,062 Ten
30 New Jersey 29.7 11,926 916 Nine

Too many numbers for you? Here are the figures translated in a language that uses letters:

  • The seven teams with the least regular season experience are the Avalanche (7,039 games played), Maple Leafs (7,169), Islanders (7,418), Hurricanes (7,455), Jets (7,649), Blue Jackets (7,619) and Wild (7,659).
  • The seven teams with the most regular season experience are the Flyers (12,928), Coyotes (12,608), Devils (11,926), Bruins (11,843), Red Wings (11,456), Panthers (11,437) and Flames (11,216). Oh, and thanks Nicklas Lidstrom for single-handedly catapulting Detroit past eight teams.
  • The seven teams with the least post-season experience are the Blue Jackets (271), Maple Leafs (278), Jets (329), Wild (338), Hurricanes (348), Islanders (379), and Avalanche (413).
  • The seven teams with the most post-season experience are the Red Wings (1,557), Flyers (1,200), Sharks (1,082), Bruins (1,062), Penguins (1,007), Canucks (993), and Devils (916). If not for Martin Brodeur the Blackhawks would take the seventh spot with 854 games played.
  • The Pacific Division has the most regular season experience with 51,261 games played, in contrast to the Northeast Division's 44,398, the lowest of all six divisions (yep, even with Boston). For playoff experience, the Atlantic Division leads with 3,936 man games. Our very own Northwest Division has tallied the least of all divisions, with a mere 2,584 games in experience.
The Avs are more than just the youngest team in the league -- they are also the least experienced. This should hardly be a surprise to anyone considering Milan Hejduk (36 years old), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (34), and Jan Hejda (33) are the only true old-timers of the team. Don't be confused Red Wing fans: just substitute old-timers with young bucks and the previous sentence will make sense. The Avs are also 24th in the league in post-season experience. Although, I noticed how much a single player can affect this stat. For example, subtract old man Hejduk from the equation and the Avs suddenly drop to 28th.

Having an old team should never be confused with not having a young core. Look at Philadelphia. Nine of their active roster players are aged 32 years or above. Yet, their roster includes 19-year-old Sean Couturier, 20-year-old Brayden Schenn, 22-year-old James van Riemsdyk and 24-year-old Claude Giroux, to mention nothing of their prospects.

Conversely, having a young team does not guarantee youthfully-erratic play. Think the St. Louis Blues, youngsters aplenty, surged to the top of the Western Conference thanks to Ken Hitchcock alone? Perhaps he is largely responsible, but their decision this past off-season to sign four veterans -- 37-year-olds Jason Arnott and Scott Nichol, 36-year-old Jamie Langenbrunner and 32-year-old Kent Huskins -- has provided both a steady and invaluable presence to such a young bunch.

Enter Colorado. No seasoned leader from either the forward or defensive corps (yes, Hejduk is a seasoned and worthy captain, but he is not exactly your vocal-heavy, textbook leader). No seasoned member of the coaching staff. Hell, no full-time goalie coach. With those factors into play, can anyone honestly be surprised with the hot and cold play week in and week out? For the youngest and most inexperienced team in the league, hot and cold is exactly what you get.

And that is exactly why it's great. One need not look further than Joe Sacco's post-game interviews. Win or lose, he often repeated but one phrase: We showed a lot of character tonight. Cliché, but true. It is important to realize that this season saw hard times, not hard slides. Even in those hard times the youngest of all our players, 19-year-old Gabriel Landeskog, remained smart, tenacious and most importantly consistent.

So what do all these numbers really tell us? That they're the youngest team? The least experienced? For me it says one thing: There is so much to look forward to, and so much time to enjoy it.



*Rounded to nearest tenth

**Active roster includes player 40+ (CHI - Sean O'Donnell, 40; PHI - Jaromir Jagr, 40; ANA - Teemu Selanne, 41; DET - Nicklas Lidstrom, 41; TAM - Dwayne Roloson, 42)
All figures recorded 3/21

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