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Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: September 7, 12:14 PM ET
No. 78: Colorado Avalanche

By Jeff Gold
ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 64
Title track: 29
Ownership: 89
Coaching: 108
Players: 74
Fan relations: 71
Affordability: 102
Stadium experience: 94
Bang for the buck: 35

The franchise has missed the playoffs in four of the past six seasons, including the last two, and has won only one round during that same span -- yet the team still grades out well above average in title track. What gives? Well, one positive of being one of the league's worst teams is that Colorado has had a top-three draft pick in two of the past four drafts. They made solid if unspectacular choices in Matt Duchene (third, 2009) and Gabriel Landeskog (second, 2011). Couple them with last year's points leader, Ryan O'Reilly, and Colorado has a nice trio of forwards who are all 21 years old or younger. The Avalanche had a shot to squeak into the playoffs last season before losing six of their final seven games. Fans mostly blame coach Joe Sacco for the shortcomings; he has been at the helm for three seasons and hasn't gained the confidence of fans, coming in at 108. Fans of only six NHL teams gave their coach a lower score.