Hey, Avs. Steph here.
I know the season just ended, and that game sucked, and it stings. But I just wanted to take a minute and write a quick letter that you’ll Definitely All Read to say, briefly: Thank you guys for everything. See, most of us only wanted one thing, and we got way more. We got a fun team to watch, but also one to believe in.
We had no expectations for you. We had goals, some things we might hope for. Except for Oak, who was right, no one thought you would extend your season past game 82. Many of us still thought so up until puck drop of that game. And then you killed it. Again.
At no point could it be argued that you were last year’s team. You have done nothing all year except claw your way back. In October, when you got torn apart by Vegas, you told us that wasn’t gonna fly and the next day, on a back to back you came in and proved it–you scored SIX GOALS! You saw a guy who’s been core to your team as long as I’ve been closely following hockey traded for a million other pieces, then immediately played two games against him on another continent for some reason, and all that did was unleash the pure fury of Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. Well, and leave us weak in the knees at Sam Girard’s skating but I digress.
All season we eyed the spring, especially march, as the Death March. You found a way to hang in the playoff race, even when everyone was out day to day for weeks at a time. This team we had all agreed would do well to reach 80 points was still in position to reach 100 before an incredibly tough road trip to end the year. And then, well, Game 82 happened.
You matched up against the President’s Trophy winner. No one thought you had any hope of keeping it close. Then you pushed them to the limit in Game 1. Then you very nearly stole Game 2. Then you were great in Game 3 and refused to say die in Game 5, despite injuries piling up like hats on the ice. This franchise has won two cups and fans who have been here since 1996 are calling Game 5 one of the greatest Avalanche games they’d ever seen.
Your passion for the game and how much you clearly just loved playing for each other this year was infectious. This year has been really hard for a lot of us for a lot of different reasons. That we knew, win or lose, (but you were probably gonna win, and especially at home,) but that we knew the game was almost definitely going to be a lot of fun, that pulling for you guys was going to be a good way to cap any day, regardless of what was going on in the world or in our personal lives… just huge. You got a whole bunch of people who were completely jaded and soured on the Avalanche to believe again.
I’ve struggled more than once this year, with this, that, and the other. My friends have struggled too, this isn’t about me. But for example, every once in a while I get down and decide I’m simply not going to follow hockey closely anymore because it’s effort that I don’t always have the energy left for, thanks to… stuff. I decide I’m done with the podcast, that I’m going to find a more normal way to spend my time. And then Sam Girard dekes a forechecker so hard they board themselves, passes up to perfect human Gabe Landeskog, who finds my MVP Nathan MacKinnon for a goal of the year candidate, and it happens to be both of their third points of the game as the team come from behind and win. The fans have their dunks, they laugh at the fans who had written the game off as a loss already, we high five each other and spam the internet with goofy memes and I remember what I’m doing here, what we’re all doing here. You’ve taken an apathetic community that had been at each others throats for years about who was a real fan and what fan site does real work and which journalists should be muted on Twitter and what to do with this or that contract, and you put us on your backs, and you brought us back together. When you piled on Gabe at the end of Game 82, every one of us wanted to jump right in with you.
You did so many things this season, but even though you may have finally run out of gas tonight, never once were you not an absolute joy to support, and never once did you quit. Thank you.
Now rest up, and don’t worry about us. Come next season, we’ll be there right behind you.