Colorado Avalanche Advice for Vegas Golden Knight Fans

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 07: The Vegas Golden Knights react after their teams 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals in Game Five of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on June 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 07: The Vegas Golden Knights react after their teams 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals in Game Five of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on June 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Colorado Avalanche fans can advise Vegas Golden Knights fans about how too much success too early can come back to bite you.

The Colorado Avalanche expressed it best on Twitter. After congratulating the Washington Capitals on winning the Stanley Cup, they posted the following tweet:

For the vast majority of hockey fans, your fandom consists of watching the ups and downs of the regular season followed by a playoff run (if you’re lucky) that more often than not your team doesn’t win. Captain Garbriel Landeskog said it well, too — the only win that counts is that last one in June.

And even that one doesn’t count for too long. Even while Alex Ovechkin is sipping his champagne from the Stanley Cup, most fans are already looking to next season.

Only maybe the Vegas Golden Knights fans don’t realize how that goes. They probably think they’re going to be in the glory days forever. I know I did, with the Colorado Avalanche those first few seasons.

Colorado Avalanche First Stanley Cup

colorado avalanche
11 Jun 1996: Joe Sakic, captain of the Colorado Avalanche carries the Stanley Cup trophy after defeating the Florida Panthers 1-0 in triple overtime of game four of the Stanley Cup Finals at Miami Arena in Miami, Florida. Sakic was awarded the Conn Smythe /

As the Vegas Golden Knights cut a swathe through the Stanley Cup Finals, my niggling feeling was that they didn’t deserve it. And I felt bad for thinking that because, of course, the Colorado Avalanche won a Stanley Cup their first season in Denver.

After the Capitals won their first Stanley Cup in 44 years, I checked my Twitter feed for salty Knights fans, I saw a blogger buddy of mine who runs a great site called Sin Bin Vegas. He tweeted the following:

I laughed a little to myself. “There are no storybook endings in sports. Rarely anyway.” But then that niggling feeling returned — Maybe, just maybe, that first Stanley Cup, which is my favorite… Maybe the Avs *whisper-whisper-whisper. (Translate

didn’t deserve to win

… didn’t deserve to win.)

It must be the height of suckitude to be a Canadian city, Quebec, that lost its NHL team because of finances. To then see homeboy Patrick Roy blow his top and demand a trade from the neighboring team… to your old team. And then see said HHoFer go on to lead your old team to Stanley Cup victory.

That’s really not fair. Not fair at all.  No do-overs, though, and Montreal would never have traded Roy to Quebec.

But that’s not how Quebec’s story was supposed to end. Nordiques fans weren’t supposed to watch their team slog through  horrendous seasons, such as that 12-win season, just to start winning games and even playoff series…. and go to Colorado to win the Stanley Cup.

But that’s sports, sports fans. For every Ray Bourque/Alex Ovechkin raising a Cup, there’s a hundred Jarome Iginla/Daniel Alfredsson/Henrik and Daniel Sedin/Paul Kariya/Pavel Bure… who never won a Stanley Cup.

Vegas fans are going to have to draft and develop a star like those guys — maybe Cody Glass? — before the fans can understand that unique pain.

Because pain is what makes victory so much sweeter.

Suffering the Lows to Appreciate the Highs

The 2016-17 season was no joke a six-month-long headache for Colorado Avalanche fans. What’s funny is a Minnesota Wild fan trolling the Avs made a video that perfectly encapsulates that season:

Players falling down, Blake Comeau’s breakaway pass, players getting upended, Tyson Barrie tripping on the puck… that was the 2016-17 Colorado Avalanche season.

And you know what? I love that video. Because watching it, I get to laugh ruefully. Yep, that was my team. My team was so bad that there was a joke about who would likely win the Cup that year, who would likely make the playoffs, who would mostly likely not make the playoffs, who had no chance of making the playoffs, the teams that making the playoffs was a joke for them… and then the Avalanche.

But that sourness, made this video clip, constructed a year later, all the sweeter:

The 2017-18 season felt so much better because of how bad the previous season was.

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What I like about the 2016-17 season — besides the fact that it gives us a strange bragging right, “You think your season is bad. 48 points. Lost the Draft Lottery entirely.” — is that I don’t think the team lost any fans. Fairweather fans had long since fled, either still caught in the glory days or waving off the resurgence the 2013-14 season represented.

The fanbase that was left by 2016-17 was the core of wizened Avs fans who were going to purse their lips and slog through the embarrassment of that season.

That’s the fanbase that the Vegas Golden Knights need to develop. To be clear, I have every expectation that they will. Once the new hockey fans discover that 99% of being a sports fan is being disappointed, that at the end of every year only one fanbase is happy and the odds are 30-1 it won’t be yours, the Pollyannas will drift away.

So, Vegas fans “proudly” wearing their Knights’ colors, putting on VGK Mickey Mouse ears at Disney World… Sorry, guys, I’m not impressed.

But I will be. I will be when you’re still wearing your VGK colors long after this magical season. When you can argue the merits of analytics vs the eye test. When you easily crack jokes about no one knowing what offsides is, much less goalie interference.

When your team has experienced its inevitable drop, and you’re still supporting them — then I’ll be impressed.

Because the downfall will come. You can ask Oilers, Rangers, Canadiens fans. You can ask the Quebecois, up in Canada, still with no Stanley Cup.

But take it from us, the Colorado Avalanche faithful. We had first-ballot Hall of Famers on our 2001 team. And under a decade later we were drafting top-three because of such bad seasons. And then Forty-Eight Points happened.

Next: MacKinnon Forceful About Next Season

Strap in, Vegas fans. Hockey’s about to get real.