Just over 36 hours out from winning the Stanley Cup, the Colorado Avalanche are winners and Lord Stanely was back in the Mile High City for the first time since 2001. Of course, there were plenty of celebrations when the Cup arrived yesterday afternoon.
While the celebrations will continue all summer long, there are still plenty of things they did on their journey to the Cup. Here are just a few of them:
Cale Makar: History as a youngling
All. Hail. Cale. We’ve heard this phrase time and time again across the league. The 23-year-old has taken the league by storm along the way to his first Stanley Cup. This is no joke - what he’s done is unforeseen, not even by arguably the greatest defender of all time, Bobby Orr. Though Makar joined the list with Orr and Nicklas Lidstrom and is the only three players to have won the Norris and Conn Smythe in the same season.
Makar, however, is the first player in NHL history to win the Hobey Baker, the Calder, the Norris, and the Stanley Cup. Throw in the Conn Smythe too with that. And he is only 23 years old. He has so much more to come in his incredibly young career.
16-4: One of the best
En route to the Cup, the Avs finished out with a 16-4 record - one of the best ever. It ties the records done by the 2012 Los Angeles Kings, 1993 Montreal Canadiens, 1995 New Jersey Devils, and 1997 Detroit Red Wings. Only the 1988 Edmonton Oilers finished with a better record than the Avs, with an exceptional 16-2 record.
Some series were obviously harder than others, with the St. Louis Blues and the Tampa Bay Lightning giving the Avs the only two losses of their series. The sweeps of the Nashville Predators and Oilers helped with rest and the winning streaks along the way. Regardless, it is a feat to be celebrated.
Joe Sakic: A legend in Denver
Joe Sakic made this all happen. Do I need to say more? He is the third man to win the Stanley Cup as a player and as a GM. He obviously won it twice as the Avalanche Captain in 1996 and 2001.
Sakic made all the major moves after the devastating 2016-17 season like off shipping Matt Duchene for Sam Girard and future picks including one that became Bowen Byram which led to the core defense of the Avs. The signings and re-signings of Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen were key parts of building the forward core. Sakic will be instrumental to the future of this team as well.
From worst to first
Imagine telling an Avs fan five years ago that the Avs would start a torrent playoff streak for the next five years and win the Stanley Cup at the end of it. No matter who you would’ve said, they’d call you crazy.
From the disastrous 48-point season in ‘16-17 to Stanley Cup Champions. All in five years' time. Not many in the sports industry can say that they’ve had quite a turnaround as the Avs have had. From Jared Bednar continuing to develop his players and as a coach, to bringing in higher-class talent and play, the Avs did something remarkable in a five-year span.
It’s time to imagine what the next five years might be like. The window is far from closed. They will compete for a long time with this core. With some new reinforcements after the start of free agency, new contracts on the horizon, and better and deeper talent coming up the pipeline, the Avs will look to start a dynasty of their own.
A funny last achievement
The Avs are the quickest team to damage the Stanley Cup after Nicolas Aube-Kubel fell skating towards the team picture, denting it in the process. Well done NAK, seems symbolistic. After all, they are the fastest team in the league and now the best, too.