The Colorado Avalanche still have chance at a playoff spot! What a turnaround, right?
Last year they deserved the attention of a street performer who tries to play their shoe like a flute — it had comedic appeal, until it got too painful and you had to stop looking. That crash-and-burn mentality only looks good on a team that’s trying to lose. The Avalanche established themselves as the worst NHL team in the last decade.
So competing for a playoff spot with a month left in this year’s season is amazing.
A young, exciting team that’s making progress — one with an emerging superstar and tons of potential for the future — now that’s worth paying attention to.
The Avalanche are fighting for their playoff lives right now. They seem to like their own chances better than the hockey world at large does. They may not earn a playoff berth this year, but they still have a shot. In the NHL, if you make the playoffs, you have a chance to win the Stanley Cup. If they don’t make it to the postseason this year, it’s still a huge step forward after the horror story that was last season. The future is bright.
I would contend that the Avalanche have the best chance at actually competing for a championship in the foreseeable future when compared to the Colorado Rockies, Denver Broncos and Denver Nuggets.
The best way to settle this argument is with short paragraphs on each team’s window of contention that will likely infuriate each fan base for different reasons.
Will they, or won’t they: Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche will contend for a championship over the next few years because they have an MVP-caliber player in Nathan MacKinnon, who is surrounded by talented linemates Gabe Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. Their rookie forwards chose hockey instead of creating the law firm of Kerfoot, Compher and Jost. As a result, they give the Avs some interesting and promising depth. The defense has a lot of interesting developing prospects. It’s also worth noting that every team that makes that NHL playoffs has a chance to win the championship..
The Avalanche will not contend for a championship because their young talent will not develop. Their players get hurt too often (Erik Johnson and Semyon Varlamov, in particular, have battled with injuries throughout their careers). The goaltending will give out before they have a chance to compete. The Avalanche have been in this situation before and have followed it with personnel decisions that didn’t pan out.
Will they, or won’t they: Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies will contend for a championship over the next few years because the team from last year shows a potentially sustainable path to the World Series. With a homegrown pitching staff that performed well at altitude, they will excel in their second year as a unit. Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon will lead the way on the field and at the plate, knocking in both young players and veterans who make the roster. The Rockies spent more money this offseason than anyone else has on a bullpen — ever.
The Colorado Rockies will not contend for a championship because the path to a championship is so narrow in baseball — there are fewer playoff spots than in any other major sport. To guarantee a playoff series, the Rockies have to win the division over the Los Angeles Dodgers (the defending National League champions) the Arizona Diamondbacks (who beat the Rockies in the 2017 Wild Card Game) and the San Francisco Giants (who may be delusional by spending millions on veteran hitters… or may have a real shot at the division title). The young pitching cold fall apart in their second year and the team’s hitting woes on the road could catch up to them. Then in two years, the Rockies may very well lose Arenado to free agency.
Will they, or won’t they: Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets will contend for a championship over the next few years because they have the core talent to compete. On any night, a combination of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris can compete with any other team in the league. All three are young enough that they have not yet reached their potential. On top of that, the Nuggets already have promising other players that will be needed to help them make a run. If they stay healthy, their core three could all emerge as superstars.
The Denver Nuggets will not contend for a championship because it’s all but impossible for markets like Denver’s to win a championship in the NBA. You must have an unquestioned superstar who can take over and single-handedly win games for you; the Nuggets don’t have that kind of player on the roster, and they can’t add one in free agency, either. Coach Michael Malone’s decision-making will cost them games and he’s too often been slow to adapt. This Nuggets roster may follow in the footsteps of other talented, promising Nuggets teams that failed to win even a single playoff series.
Will they, or won’t they: Denver Broncos
Let’s keep this short. Novels could be written about this subject.
The Denver Broncos will contend for a championship over the next few years because they have every opportunity to add a great quarterback in the offseason. This will give the Broncos the confidence they need to run a more diverse and explosive offense. The defense can remain strong with youth, and Von Miller may eventually hold two jobs: linebacker and mayor of Denver.
The Denver Broncos will not contend for a championship because they pick the wrong man at quarterback — again. Their defense will get worse by cutting Aqib Talib; the Broncos’ defensive backfield has worked because they’ve had three starting-caliber corners, not just two. The city may eventually start a new newspaper to compete with the Denver Post called the Denver Quarterback Debate — because that seems to be the only news that matters.