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Avalanche fans are rather universally "all aflutter" over the Canada Day signings of Ryan Smyth and Scott Hannan. Why? It's been a tough couple of years for fans. And I'm not talking about on-ice performance here.

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Ever since coming with the team to Denver (really, even before leaving Quebec), GM Pierre Lacroix has made big moves to improve the team. Patrick Roy. Ray Bourque. Theo Fleury. Darius Kaspairitus. Rob Blake. Selanne & Kariya. Certainly, some have worked out better than others, but that's not the point of this exercise. The point is that there's been an almost constant stream of exciting moves for the Avalanche faithful to talk about. Sadly, that stream slowed down to a trickle as the team entered the salary cap era.

Fans in Buffalo, Long Island and Nashville have nothing on Colorado fans. That first summer after the lockout was a bloodbath, with Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote, Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya all leaving for greener pastures within days of each other. Our big free agent signings that summer? Patrice Brisebois and Pierre Turgeon. We also landed Andrew Brunette and Ian Laperriere, and had a couple of pre-lockout signing in Antti Laaksonen and Brett McLean. Turns out, all those players fared well...but, again, no rational person went "wow, Antti Laaksonen! He's the final piece we need to get us that Cup". Lacroix made one last reach for a big splash deal at the trade deadline, bringing in Jim Dowd from the Black Hawks. That can't be right. Ah, I was wrong. The big splash was Jose Theodore. Most fans had an inkling as to how that would work out...and, so far, they've been right.

Last summer, we left the Pierre Lacroix era and entered the J.F. Giguere era. At first, it was more of the same. Thanks to some pre-lockout contracts involving Rob Blake and Joe Sakic, what little cap room the Avalanche had was eaten. The "big splash" was jettisoning Alex Tanguay at the draft. Tyler Arnason, fresh off his playoff benching in Ottawa, was brought on board to be the #2 center. As they say, not good times...BAD times. The deadline was a snooze: out with Brad May, in with Michael Wall and Scott Parker. Not exactly a Ray Bourque grenade. More like a Bates Battaglia fizzled matchstick.

Well, the famine is over, and Avalanche fans now can once again feast on the succulent morsels of some meaty new acquisitions. Enjoy the meal.