Joe Sakic spoke to the media Wednesday night prior to the Avalanche’s 2013-14 season opener against Anaheim, and the former Colorado captain couldn’t have provided a better preview of the game if he had had a crystal ball tucked into his pinstripe suit.
It’s been an eventful and much-documented offseason for the Avalanche, with one of the franchise’s big changes coming in the form of Sakic moving to an executive vice president role.
He’s kept a pretty low profile since that announcement was made in May—leaving the headlines to former-teammate-now-Avs-head-coach Patrick Roy and others—but he took a moment Wednesday to step in the light and lay out his vision for the Avalanche’s future.
In hindsight, he gave a 20-20 preview of the game Colorado would play just an hour or so after his talk.
The Avalanche dismantled the Ducks 6-1 Wednesday at Pepsi Center, and it was one of those games where saying, “It wasn’t even that close,” is entirely appropriate.
And everything that the Colorado players put on display in the win, Sakic discussed in his presser.
Grit. Determination. Work ethic. Commitment. Urgency.
The Avs displayed all that and more Wednesday, and they were all touched on by “Super Joe” before the game even started.
“It’s up to us,” Sakic said when asked how he saw the franchise turning Pepsi Center back into the madhouse it was in the late 1990s and early 2000s. “Obviously, we have to do it on the ice. Winning solves everything, but it’s not just that. It’s work ethic. We want our fans to be proud of us, trust us, know that whenever they come to the rink they’re going to see the same type of effort game in and game out.”
If Wednesday’s game is any indication, that trust isn’t going to take long to build.
“Consistency over the last few years hasn’t been there—it hasn’t been nearly what it needs to be—and we expect that to be the case now,” Sakic said. “I know there’s more excitement with what we’re doing here, and we just want to build on that.
“At the end of the day, it’s up to us to bring them back.”
That message has been an unofficial theme of the franchise this offseason, with players on up to coaches stressing how they want Avalanche fans to perceive them after going through a few down years.
It’s a message team president and governor Josh Kroenke has touched on often since May. It’s one that Patrick Roy touches nearly any time he gets a chance.
This franchise has a strong history of winning, and the men who are back and heavily involved at Pepsi Center, know what it was like “back then” and know what it will take to make it happen again.
“I thought we had a real workman-like training camp,” Sakic said. “I thought everybody bought in. You could see the excitement from the players on getting going and starting, and I’m the same way. I’m excited to see us get going.
“We know not a lot of people are predicting us to be in the playoffs, so it’s our hope to surprise a lot of people. We’ve got a lot of excitement going on here.”