Colorado Avalanche: Saying Goodbye to the Lost Season

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche have had the most disappointing season in team history. Say goodbye to 2016-17, and start looking forward to next season.

Many Colorado Avalanche fans had high hopes for the 2016-17 season. That’s the nature of sports fans — we’re eternal optimists. No matter how bad a season was for our team, we hope that the next one will be better.

I didn’t really expect this season to be a good one, but I didn’t expect it to be this bad. With just four games left, the Avs only have 21 wins on the season. As I pointed out in a previous article, that’s not the worst record in franchise history, but it’s certainly the worst for the Avalanche.

A lot of Avs fans have stopped going to games. I attended the Washington Capitals game, and it was easily a 50-50 split of fans. So much so that one cheeky man in our section told us we were in the wrong place! (I’m sure he meant because it was an opponent attack twice section, but he got a whole row of female Avs fans yelling at him.)

Many Avs fans have stopped watching games on TV as well. Who can blame them? The team seems to have been going through the motions for months now. Indeed, I was watching Tyson Jost play, and I wondered what he was doing so deep in the offensive zone when the other team had the puck. Then it dawned on me — he was forechecking! That’s something we haven’t seen in a while from the Avs.

A couple weeks ago I wrote that the Death Watch had begun for the end of the season. It included some markers to watch for, such as will Nathan MacKinnon reach 200 career points (yes) and will Matt Duchene score 20 goals (not yet). There are still some possible markers that the team can make in the final few games of the season.

At the time of writing, there were only four games left in this lost season:

  • April 4: Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche
  • April 6: Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche
  • April 8: Colorado Avalanche at Dallas Stars
  • April 9: Colorado Avalanche at St. Louis Blues.

Under different circumstances, playing against four Central Division rival teams could have made for some exciting hockey. Instead, it’s just sad. Let’s be realistic — the team could lose all four.

More from Mile High Sticking

But that doesn’t mean we should give up watching those last few games. After April 9, we have to wait until mid-September for even preseason Colorado Avalanche hockey. That’s five whole months. I maintain that bad Avs hockey is better than no Avs hockey.

Plus, let’s get melancholy for a second. These last four games could be the last we ever see certain players — namely Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog — in Avalanche sweaters. It’s highly likely GM Joe Sakic will trade one or both of them at the NHL Draft. (The thought makes me really sad.)

Let’s go back to optimism. Some of the future is already on display in Colorado Avalanche games. Somehow Nathan MacKinnon is becoming something of a veteran, and his play has been reflecting that old brilliance that won him the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year.

We’ve got Mikko Rantanen as third on the team for points and first for goals! He’s becoming more exciting to watch with each passing game.

J.T. Compher and Anton Lindholm are getting their NHL legs. They’ve only played in 17 and 10 games respectively, but they look like a good foundation for the youth movement coming up.

And there’s Tyson Jost. I really like his game, and I’m glad he’s getting the opportunity to see what the NHL is all about. He’s already stated he intends to tailor his offseason training to what he sees is needed of him from the team. It sounds like he may even decide to train here in Colorado.

Additionally, the most recent Colorado Avalanche acquisitions — Matthew Nieto, Mark Barberio and, especially, Sven Andrighetto — are putting on quite the show. It’s clear they’re making a case to be included on the team next season. Nieto and Andrighetto are restricted free agents this summer, while Barberio has a year left on his contract.

Next: Hope in Play Against the Blues

This was a tough season to watch, Avs Nation, make no mistake. It started out with such promise as the Colorado Avalanche swept all five of their preseason games. (How often throughout the season did you wish they could have saved some of those wins for when it counted?)

With the eternal optimism of sports fans, we need to look to next season. The up-and-coming youngsters have given us reason for that optimism.