Since 2002, many of the great Avalanche players have hung up their skates and moved on with other aspects in their lives.
So now the question hangs out there: When will the Colorado Avalanche return to the franchise’s glory years?
The 2011-2012 Colorado Avalanche roster is filled with many young, unfamiliar names.
The two names that are listed on the roster with any Stanley Cup Championship experience are longtime Avalanche forward Milan Hejduk and veteran net-minder Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
If the Avalanche are to have any hopes of making a run at Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2012, they need some veteran leadership.
The thing that makes this year’s squad different from the two championship teams of old is that Colorado has not made one of their blockbuster trades that boosted their firepower.
In 1996, the Avs traded for an icon in Patrick Roy, and that seemed to be all they needed to solidify their run for the Cup.
Then, in 2001, Colorado’s front office was at it again, adding Rob Blake to their lineup and pairing him with their previous year’s acquisition, Ray Bourque.
That resulted in them hoisting the Stanley Cup at the end of the 2001 season.
The Avalanche are trying to catch lightning in a bottle like the Pittsburgh Penguins did in 2009 when they hoisted the Cup with a young, talented roster. The driving force behind the Penguins, however, was their chairman and co-owner Mario Lemieux.
Joe Sakic wants to emulate those results with his club.
With the emergence of Ryan O’Reilly, the Avalanche are clearly focused on scoring points. O’Reilly’s point total 30 games into the 2011-2012 campaign is just four points shy of his point average for the previous two seasons.
With Hejduk, Stastny and Duchene close behind in points, Colorado has a golden opportunity to put offensive pressure on most of the teams in the league.
The Avs are not in a favorable position to make another one of their blockbuster trades and bring in some veteran know-how.
Being one of the youngest teams in the National Hockey League, the Avalanche are going to have to rely on raw talent and desire if they want to return to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Veterans like Hejduk and Giguere need to lead by example and get the future leaders, Duchene, O’Reilly and Stastny, to step up and be ready to fill their skates in coming seasons.