After 21 years and a legendary run that matched the most combined regular season and playoff wins in NHL history with 72 in 102 games played, the Colorado Avalanche are the 2022 Stanley Cup Champions. As the champs were saluted in front of the hometown fans Wednesday night at Coors Field, there was a question — I’m sure — in the backs of the minds of many Rockies fans: When (if ever) will the Rockies get the chance to hoist their own hard-won trophy at 20th and Blake, or will Coors Field continue to only play host to visiting champions as a mere stop on a much larger victory tour.
There is no one recipe for success and it would be foolish to think you could simply copy and paste a blueprint for winning from sport to sport and league to league. But there are lessons, no doubt, that can be learned from a champion, and the Colorado Rockies would be wise to take note.
So here are four lessons the Colorado Rockies can learn from the Colorado Avalanche.
Don’t fear the rebuild
The Rockies front office and ownership have long steered clear of the word and insisted the team was competing for a shot at a World Series title, regardless of how well the team has played in recent years. As all Rockies fans can attest, the reluctance to rebuild does not mean that the team will not lose games. It merely reflects the fact that there is no plan in place to transform the club into a team that can truly compete for a championship.
The delayed rebuild has also prevented the Rockies from at least gaining the loser’s trophy of prime draft position. While far from true contention, the Rockies have played just well enough to find themselves near the bottom of “the middle” of the league (in my opinion, the worst place for a franchise to sit). The Rockies have hung around in this purgatory for several seasons and, despite seemingly being far from contention, they have not selected in the top five of the draft since 2016 when they picked Riley Pint fourth overall. This year they will pick 10th, in 2021 they were eighth, in 2020 they were ninth, in 2019 they were 23rd, in 2018 they were 22nd, and in 2017 they lost their first-rounder when they acquired Ian Desmond.
The two picks in the early 20s in 2018 and 2019 obviously are indicative of the franchise’s only consecutive playoff berths, but with a farm system that currently ranks toward the very bottom of the league, the Rockies desperately need to replenish their prospect pool.
Often in sports, you don’t get to be good until you are bad. Just five years prior to winning the Stanley Cup, the Colorado Avalanche had one of the worst seasons in NHL history. Now they are on top. The rebuild is not a white flag. It is a blank page, a fresh start. And it is the first step in the long road to securing a championship.