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Commitment to Winning

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche owner Stan Kroenke and president and governor Josh Kroenke are committed to winning a championship. They always have been.

"Our ownership has been incredible. Both Stan and Josh are very supportive of us, right from day one," said Avalanche executive vice president and general manager Joe Sakic on Thursday at the club's annual media day at Pepsi Center. "This is their team and no one wants to see this team win a championship more than Stan and Josh. They have always been committed to us."

This offseason after Colorado was eliminated in the playoffs by the Minnesota Wild, Sakic and the team's executives went out and added several key pieces to the roster to help take the Avs from merely making the playoffs to being a championship-caliber team every year.

The Avalanche acquired veterans Daniel Briere and Brad Stuart in trades and signed Jarome Iginla during free agency, adding leadership to the club's already strong foundation. Forwards Ben Street and Jesse Winchester and defensemen Bruno Gervais and Zach Redmond were among the players also added to provide extra depth on the roster.

"We came out of the Minnesota series and we had a couple of injuries, not to use that as an excuse, but we needed to work on our depth and team toughness and I think we did a pretty good job of trying to fill those needs in the offseason," Sakic said. "We are as deep depth wise as we have ever been. That was one of the main goals. We know injuries will happen, you don't want them to happen, but we feel if we have them we'll be okay."

Colorado has locked up several of their young players in the past two years, including re-signing Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Semyon Varlamov to long-term deals and securing new contracts with Ryan O'Reilly, Tyson Barrie, Jamie McGinn and Nick Holden this past summer.

The addition of the new players and the re-signing of old ones has made the Avalanche a 'cap team' as the club is close to approaching the league-mandated $69-million salary cap. The current Avs team has the highest payroll in franchise history.

"Last year we were in the bottom five in the league in ticket sales, and even knowing that, [Stan and Josh Kroenke] want to win a championship," Sakic said. "They have given us the green light to do whatever we can to make this team win. They are very committed. They want to see us win a championship."

Colorado head coach/vice president of hockey operations Patrick Roy saw that passion to win from ownership first hand last season as he went through his first campaign behind the Avalanche bench.

"Just seeing Josh and Stan Kroenke come out to games, just how excited they are about the team. It's pretty impressive," Roy said.

The Kroenkes trusted what Sakic and Co. were doing, and that they would be smart and appropriately manage the salary cap. So when it does come time to spend big money to get those final pieces that hopefully lead to a title, the team could.

"I don't think you always have to spend a certain amount to prove that you want to win a championship. It's how you allocate your dollars," Sakic said. "Last year, we felt that was what we needed to spend to be competitive on the ice. This year, it is this much. It could be different another year. It's who you want on your team and having team chemistry that is the most important thing. It's not exactly what you spend, but how you spend."

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