After the disaster of last season, it is truly refreshing to watch the Colorado Avalanche compete hard every night, win or lose.
I have been fortunate enough to be in a position through television and/or the internet to watch every Colorado Avalanche game since the cancelled 2004-05 season. Despite living 1800 miles away from Denver, I have also attended at least 1 game in person, sometimes 4, or 5, every season.
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Last season broke me. It was the first time in over a decade that I did not watch at least 90% of Colorado’s games. I was able to find reasons to watch other bad Avalanche squads over the years, including wanting to see Adam Foote’s final games in 2011, while the team around him was not very good.
Something about last season’s team just turned me off. It seemed that not everyone was trying as hard as they could. That is a pretty low bar. Trying hard. If not everyone in an Avs sweater was willing to do that, why should I go out of my way, to stay up until almost midnight on the east coast every night to watch them? There were very few redeeming qualities about last year.
So, for the first time in a long while, I only watched about one game per week. I went to see the Avs play the Islanders in person, a 6-1 loss, more to keep my personal streak of attendance going than a real desire to see the team. (Fun fact: I got to see Joe Colborne score a goal, one of only two games all season that happened.)
So last season was my fandom hitting rock bottom, much like the Colorado Avalanche themselves. I did not want to watch the Avalanche. But this year, through only 6 games, I feel my desire to watch this team every night coming back to me. It isn’t just the 4 wins in 6 games, though that is certainly a better start than I was expecting.
This team competes every night. I may be most encouraged by the third periods of the two losses. Trying to overcome a multi-goal deficit against New Jersey, the Avs carried the play, but couldn’t score a goal. Against Dallas, playing the second half of a back to back, down 2-0 entering the third period, the Avalanche played their best period of the night, but couldn’t find a tying goal.
It is refreshing to see the younger and faster ethos of the team on display. Sure some of the young players make mistakes, but they have the ability to learn from them. I am looking forward to watching the players get better over the course of the season, and in some cases, over the course of many years. There are a plethora of reasons to care about this team again.
I am actually looking forward to watching the Avalanche take on the Islanders at Barclays Center in a few weeks. While the team may not win that night, I want to see the young players in person. I have also come to appreciate the smaller achievements within a game, because they are building towards something bigger.
Among many other things, I enjoy watching an improving penalty kill. The team seems receptive to coaching. I enjoy watching the continued development of Erik Johnson as a leader on this team. I love the love that Nail Yakupov has for the game. It was missing from this team last year. I also love watching the rookies learn and contribute to this team.
In short, after last season’s dumpster fire, I am beginning to feel love for this team again. It feels good!