There's been some healthy back and forth between Mile High Hockey and Hockey Wilderness this week as both groups get ready to cheer their teams on in this unexpected first round matchup. Many of you have probably noticed a small series on Hockey Wilderness that uses guest writers like our old friend J.J. from Winging it in Motown to inform their fans on "Why [they] Should Hate the Avalanche." I thought about scraping together something similar in these final days before puck drop but I just can't do it. I just can't hate the Wild.
Now don't get me wrong, because I dislike them a whole lot. I think Matt Cooke is a dirtbag, I think whichever Koivu they have is overrated, I think Heatley is a selfish crybaby, and I think that Chuck Fletcher and Craig Leipold deserve league-wide scorn for signing matching 13 year $98 million dollar contracts just moments before leaping on the lockout bus and forcing their way to the front so that they could cry cash-poor to the media. You want despicable Minnesota? That kind of behavior, which took ownership hypocrisy and greed to alarming new heights, is truly, truly despicable.
Take all that into consideration though and well... I still just feel kind of "meh" about the Minnesota adjectives. I just can't muster up the hatred for this team that I can for Detroit, St. Louis, Dallas, or Vancouver. Why? Because the Wild are absolutely, unequivocally irrelevant to me. Those other teams matter. The Wild? They're just league filler.
I do appreciate Hockey Wilderness' attempts to draw the ire of Avs fans this week though. Yes it's a bit of a gimmick but the fact that they've drawn fans from around the league to spit venom at the Avalanche organization screams one thing to me: "Colorado Avalanche, despite several years of basement hockey you still matter enough for us to hate your success deep in the core of our fandom."
So go ahead Wild fans, rant and rave about your hatred for the Avalanche.
- Make tasteless jokes about our coach but do remember that he's more accomplished than any player that has ever worn your jersey (or a North Star's jersey for that matter).... We'll enjoy rooting for a league-wide legend.
- Keep living by the fancy stats that your team died by so recently... We'll just keep winning because playoffs are all about small sample sizes and the only stat that matters now is 16 wins.
- And most of all, keep criticizing Avalanche fans for living in 2 Stanley Cups that we won more than a decade ago before retreating back to the Wilderness where you can take sanctuary in this video on repeat. Want me to gif it for you to make it easier? Your greatest accomplishment as a franchise is but a blip on a stretch of dynastic history for the Avalanche. A combined 38 years in this league and the only thing the supposed "State of Hockey" has ever won is free agency. Until they make a banner for that the official count here is 2-0.
Our nostalgia is about Stanley Cups and Hall of Fame players.
Yours is about beating us. Once. Long ago. In the first round. The first round...
So I'm sorry Minnesota, I just can't bring myself to hate you. I can't buy into a rivalry here because you're not so much a rival as you are an obstacle on the way to bigger things. I can't hate you the way you hate us because every single time I try... the hate just turns to pity.
The Avalanche were better than you then.
They are better than you now.
And they'll be better than you moving forward.
So rather than worrying about the opponent I'll be thinking about the home team. The Avalanche can beat you, they can beat anyone in this league and they've proven it. Minnesota is nothing special, they're just one of 29. We've already seen 29 of their kind come up and we've already beat 29 of their kind back down.
Time to do it again.
Let's Go Avalanche