With the Broncos set to play in their first Super Bowl in 15 years on Sunday, it’s easy to understand why regional sports fans will be bleeding blue and orange over the next week. But win or lose on Superbowl Sunday, it will be the last NFL football game for more than six months. But that’s an awful lot of time to kill for diehard sports fans.

In the mean time, sports enthusiasts can try to be satiated with March Madness, Opening Day, the Masters, and the NBA playoffs between now and August... but none of those will ultimately fill the need for a fast-paced game with hard hits, drama, emotion, and excitement.

But the NHL can.

Right on the other side of I-25 in downtown Denver is another team having a heck of a season: the Colorado Avalanche.

It seems like every other month Hollywood is coming out with a sequel to a movie that is nowhere as good as the original, but for the Avs, bringing back Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy, and Adam Foote for part two is starting to look a whole lot more like The Godfather II, rather than Caddyshack II.

Sakic took over the role of Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Avs on May 10 of last year and hasn’t looked back. It took him less than two weeks to bring back his former teammate and four-time Stanley Cup champion Patrick Roy to coach the team, as well as to be the Vice President of Hockey Operations.

A month after that, Sakic named Foote a defense development consultant. Then Colorado traded for Alex Tanguay, the hero of game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2001.

Now fast forward to 2014. After drafting Nathan MacKinnon and trading for Maxime Talbot early in the season, the Avalanche continue to turn heads across the NHL. A year removed from finishing last in the Western Conference, the Avalanche are contending for a Central Division championship with the defending Stanley Cup champion, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the preseason favorite, the St. Louis Blues.

The Avs are full of young stars, with four players on Olympic teams headed to Sochi: center Paul Stastny for team USA, center Matt Duchene for team Canada, winger Gabe Landeskog for Sweden, and goaltender Semyon Varlamov for Russia. All four teams have gold medal aspirations, meaning multiple players could be returning to the US with medals.

Often times the biggest complaint I’ll hear about watching hockey is, “I can’t see the puck.” But what about watching a football game when a running back runs into the line? Or a baseball game, when a batter hits a fly ball? What do you do? You watch the players, not the ball. Same thing in hockey... if you can’t see the puck, you watch the players until the puck returns.

Once you turn on a game, you won’t regret it. You’ll get to see hard hitting, fast paced action, incredible athleticism, raw emotion from everyone, and every player giving 100% on every shift. Everything the NFL has to offer, with only three commercial breaks a period (Bonus: Gabe Landeskog is proving that he deserved to be named the youngest captain in NHL history and very well may have the best hair in the NHL.).

You see playoff beards, guys taking 90+ MPH shots to the face and getting stitched up and returning, out-cold knock-outs with goal-scoring comebacks, like Paul Kariya.

So to all Broncos fans out there, enjoy this week. But come next Monday, don’t be sad that the football season is over; be happy that you get to become a hockey fan.

The Avalanche face-off against the New Jersey Devils the day after the Super Bowl at 5:30 p.m. MST. You won’t even have to wait 24 hours to root for another Colorado team to win in New Jersey. If that’s not fate, I don’t know what is.


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