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MHH Roundtable: Looking forward to 2021

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No new NHL season yet, but there are a few interesting distractions

Arizona Coyotes v Colorado Avalanche - Game Five Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

The holidays are upon us, and 2021 is finally on the horizon. With the new year will hopefully come the NHL season. In the meantime, news of new sweaters and World Junior Championship preparations fill the time.

The Quebec Nordiques-inspired Reverse Retro alternate sweater for the coming season was recently unveiled. Are you a fan?

Alex D: Is water wet? These jerseys are sick and hands-down take the cake as the best reverse retro jersey of the bunch. Avs faithful have long awaited the return of the original Igloo logo and fleur-del-lis accents of the franchises’ Quebec roots, and I think the “reverse” aspect of sticking to the current color scheme is a wonderful nod to both the past and present.

Eric C: Regardless of what team you are loyal to, the Avalanche are undeniably in the top tier of the Reverse Retro jerseys. Not only does Colorado have one of the most iconic styles at their disposal with the classic Quebec Nordiques look, they actually seemed to define what “reverse retro” really entails by replacing the classic colors with the Avalanche burgundy and blue. A+ for me.

Evan L: I absolutely love these jerseys. I knew they would look pretty sweet when I saw the sneak peeks, and the full reveal is even better than I thought. While I wasn’t alive during the Nordiques era, knowing the history of the organization and how it’s lead to who the Avalanche are today makes me respect it. Plus, the burgundy of the Avs combined with the blue from the Nordiques gives us a mix of both teams beautifully. Now finding the funds to buy it is another story...

Jackie: The reimagined Nordiques jersey reveal was better than I ever imagined as the remixed concept made the threads even more beautiful. This is the reward for failing to move on from the original Reebok-designed “unipron” for 10 years, and now the Avalanche have a beautiful collection of regular and alternate sweaters.

Ross S: Quite simply yes. They’re awesome! The Quebec Nordiques version of the Reverse Retro jerseys are clearly top of the line, and it’s not even close. I am big fan of the fact that they went with the igloo and hockey stick on the front, instead of trying to do some Nordiques-inspired Colorado Avalanche logo. The first jersey I ever bought was Peter Forsberg in baby blue and red, and this will be my newest purchase as soon as I can find $225 to fork over...

Rumor has it the Avalanche are going to play the 2021 season in a temporary division with the LA Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes, Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild. Do you see any advantages and/or drawbacks to this arrangement?

Alex D: I think the clear advantage to this proposed set-up is obvious: geographic proximity to (presumably) curb travel and limit contact between as many players and teams as possible with competition being limited to intra-division matchups only. Another clear advantage I see is avoiding the massive logistical issues that the league would face as a result of the international travel restrictions imposed by both the U.S. and Canadian governments if current division alignment remained. It will also be nice to continue having the Wild in the Avs’ division so they can regularly be remind of who’s boss. I honestly don’t know if I see many disadvantages to this strategy. Besides the obvious boredom that comes with playing the same seven teams all season long, if the NHL hopes to even have a season at this point, it seems like the best option to limit a potential outbreak and risk having to shut things down once again, which would be especially burdensome for a league that is dealing with serious financial question marks.

Eric C: Besides the more obvious advantage of putting the players in a safer position to play out a 2021 season, all signs seem to point to the fact that the Avs will be set up to excel. Dallas proved to everyone this year that it is the real deal and a definite cup contender, and with Vegas adding Alex Pietrangelo to its blue line, it has quickly become a ‘cup or bust’ team just three seasons into the franchise’s history. While this may seem daunting at first considering the likelihood of how competitive the division could be, it will only benefit Colorado in the long run, heading into the postseason with so much experience against some of the toughest teams in the conference.

Evan L: If the so called “western division” is created and includes the Avs, it should give the team a good advantage. If we look at the other proposed teams in the division, only two others stand out as contenders for the top spot: the Vegas Golden Knights and the Dallas Stars. No disrespect to any other team , but I’d see it as a three-horse race for the top. All of the California clubs struggled last season, missing the bubble playoff format. Arizona could be a dark horse, but I don’t think it’s quite ready to compete yet. Minnesota is in a weird spot, it could contend yet it could also fall to the same level as the Sharks, Ducks or Kings. It would be hard to tell, but given circumstances and the uncertainty still surrounding the potential division realignment, the advantage would go to the Avs, Knights and Stars.

Jackie: I’m looking forward to the novelty of new division even just for a year. A potential repetitive schedule doesn’t bother me either, as five of the seven teams are not divisional regulars, and the Avalanche were only scheduled to face them three times a year in the past. Keeping the rivalry with the Stars and Wild adds spice as well. The overall competition level should be easier than the old Central division, but you never know. The only downside I see is possibly a lot of late night 8 or 8:30 p.m. MT games when the team plays in California.

Ross S: If it weren’t for the goofy playoff format, this division realignment favors the Avalanche heavily because the Sharks, Kings, Ducks, Coyotes and Wild all figure not to be very competitive next year. However, they’d likely play Vegas in the second round of the playoffs, which is not ideal—for the Avalanche or for fans of good hockey. Having the clear top two teams in the west face each other in the second round of the playoffs isn’t great. I also agree with Jackie, as I am not looking forward to more frequent games at 8 or 8:30 p.m.

The World Junior Championship is scheduled to begin on Christmas Day. What are you looking forward to most in regards to this event?

Alex D: For someone who isn’t super keen on WJC (apologies in advance), it’ll be nice to have some competitive hockey to look forward to. I envision a day of tidings, joy and watching a deep Canadian lineup that includes current Avs’ prospect Bowen Byram, who I fully expect to embrace the season of giving and dish out some broken ankles to the competition.

Eric C: The World Juniors always provides some of the best hockey memories of the year for me, and I’m sure this year will be no exception, especially considering the addition of a number of different NHL-ready prospects that will likely be playing. There’s something about younger, unstructured hockey that is irreplaceably exciting, but if we do see more NHL-ready players in the tournament, it will only add another level of competitiveness that will make for more exciting games. Also, hockey on Christmas Day? Yes, please.

Evan L: Similar to Alex, I’m not super keen/don’t know a whole lot about the WJC (again, apologies in advance). But I will be looking forward to finally watching some hockey, specifically Bowen Byram and what he can create for Team Canada. I’ll also be interested to see if/how long play can go on before a possible shutdown due to COVID, and what the NHL could learn for the 2021 season—if anything at all. By Christmas Day, we still might not know what’s going on with the big boys, but watching the WJC, seeing what takes place there and learning how it could be mirrored, if successful, in the NHL for its upcoming season will be an interesting element to follow.

Jackie: I love the WJC in normal times, but especially now having such a competitive and entertaining event to get excited about is everything. Bowen Byram and Alex Newhook should star for Canada with possibly Justin Barron in the mix and Drew Helleson on team USA’s side. Getting a peek at 2021 draft eligibles from Europe will set a big part of the next draft in motion as well.

Ross S: I never get to watch the WJC because I am always traveling to see family over Christmas, which will likely be the case again this year. However, if I wasn’t going to be traveling, I would be extremely excited to watch Bowen Byram dominate and show just how special his future truly is. In watching the intrasquad scrimmages, you can see that Byram is on another level. Throw a little of dash of Alex Newhook in there, and a possible appearance of Justin Barron and Drew Helleson, and Avalanche fans have a lot to be excited for with this tournament.

As a Colorado Avalanche fan, what are you most thankful for?

Alex D: Aside from being thankful for the obvious (family, friends, health, a job, etc.), I am thankful for a talented roster of players that I (and many others) haven’t had the privilege of looking forward to in a long time. The last time the Avs were even remotely this good I was 8 or 9 years old playing driveway hockey with friends in June of ’01. This is a seriously exciting time to be an Avs fan, and the buzz around the team is electric. I only hope we can get the season rolling sooner rather than later.

Eric C: I’m thankful for the fact that the Avs put themselves in a position where their competitive window has no real definitive end. There are few teams who have as good of a prospect pool as Colorado does, while also being one of the top contenders for a Stanley Cup. Not to mention having an unbelievably talented franchise player like Nathan MacKinnon.

Evan L: I’m thankful for the Avs. There’s nothing really else to it. I am fortunate to have a hockey club to support through thick and thin. The position I have at MHH wouldn’t be possible without the Avs, and opens the opportunity to go into more media with the team after I finish college at CSU (sko Rams!). I’m thankful for all of the other contributors at MHH and working with them with the same passion centered around the Avalanche. I’m thankful for the Avs to distract me a couple of nights a week (in a normal year), and I just cannot wait for the season to eventually start up once again to distract me further.

Jackie: I am thankful to have a hockey team in Colorado that represents my home state so well, for Joe Sakic’s vision, for the exceptional talent they’ve accumulated and for the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup!

Ross S: In 2020, being grateful for what you have is more imperative than ever. So I just have sincere gratitude for the fact that the people I love are staying healthy, and that we’ve been able to weather this storm so far. It’s sometimes hard to imagine how truly difficult life can be, and everyone is experiencing those difficulties this year on different levels. The prospect of having Colorado Avalanche hockey back, and being able to support a team that has a legitimate chance of winning the Stanley Cup, is inspiring. Sports get us through thick and thin and help us cope with a lot of what life throws at us. It’s also about the camaraderie with fellow fans, friends and family, and I think the world could use a little more of that right now. So I am most thankful for the fact that a vaccine seems imminent, and that we might be able to share in the joy of watching hockey together, whether from a couch with friends or in the arena, soon.