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I have a difficult time getting too excited for the modern day Avs-Les Ailes de Rouge tilts, like the one in Emptytown tonight, these days. It's the ultimate bittersweet emotional experience. My mood becomes cheery as the nostalgia of the Avs glory days comes back to me, but then my mood quickly changes from from cheery to melancholy and infinite sadness as the present day reality of the Avs sets in. And this season's dichotomy of feelings is even worse than the last three years.

See in the last three years there were excuses reasons I could point to to explain the Avs decent into mediocrity and Les Ailes continued excellence. You know:
  • Les Ailes de Rouge got lucky in the draft (Which is true)
  • The Avs got unlucky with the lockout and their salary structures hurt them more than Les Ailes (Also true)
  • The Avs got a bit unlucky (True again: the Avs have had major injury issues, most notably Steve Konowalchuks career-ending heart condition)
  • The Wings Les Ailes will crash as their draft picks get better contracts (possibly semi-true)
But we're in the 4th season after the lockout, and by now the Avs should have shaken off the effects of the lockout. The most egregious contracts are off the books (Theo's) and the Avs have had ample time to rebuild their lineup. Asking the Avs to return to dominant form in 3 seasons isn't a realistic, but they should be competing for at the very least the Northwest crown. I mean they competed for it last season.

Instead the Avs have gone through the motions and completed mediocre move after mediocre move. Even though I can't find it because the the blog archive search on the Denver Post blows chunks, somewhere in his past Adrian Dater has cataloged the grievances this season well. The Avs latest offseason effort is looking more abysmal with every Andrew Brunette goal. they missed out on picking up Ilya Bryzgolov for peanuts because they wanted to make sure they got full value for Theo. I like Buds, but Bryzgolov is a better goalie (and havign both would be really nice right now). They didn't even interview Todd McLellan for their coaching vacancy, how's he doing?

The Avs have made some good moves too. I still think the Hannan and Smyth signings were good, and they have resisted trading away some prospects like Wolski and Svatos who have been pretty decent the last few years. The Avs have made good moves and bad moves which has turned them into a mediocre franchise. The Avs currently seem to be stuck in sports team purgatory, where they aren't good enough to cause excitement but not bad enough to rebuild. It's not an enviable place and it's my biggest worry as a sports fan. Being in sports purgatory is the easiest way to invoke apathy.

In fact the current Les Ailes/Avs matchup looks stunningly similar to a previous matchup of well-run franchise vs stunningly mediocre team: those late 90's early 00's Oilers-Stars matchups. The Oilers spent the better part of a decade being a perpetual whipping boy of a well run and very good Stars franchise. . While the Avs haven't faced Les Ailes in the playoffs nearly as much recently their futility against Les Ailes is strikingly similar. This game of good-move/bad move has turned the Avs into one of the franchises I used to pity the most.

Being perpetually mediocre is the worst fate that can befall a franchise in my opinion, and the Avs seem to have fallen there. Every time they play the Red Wings Les Ailes I am harshly reminded of this fact.