We are doing two weeks of showcasing rivals, and instead of looking at existing division rivals, we are going to look a few seasons into the future as the Arizona Coyotes prepare to join the Central Division. Today we look at the Colorado Avalanche.
Reason for the rivalry: Teams on the way up.
After a lengthy rebuild, the Coyotes seemed poised to make it to the playoffs for the first time since their run to the Western Conference Finals. The Avalanche on the other hand could better be described as a retooling, and after three years of missing the playoffs, they are looking for their third straight postseason appearance. Both teams could continue to improve over the next few seasons and it could make for an interesting narrative as we move forward.
Reason against the rivalry: No recent playoff history.
As of writing this, the Coyotes haven’t meet the Avalanche in the playoffs since the 1999-2000 postseason. Sure you don’t need to meet in the playoffs to have a successful rivalry, but playoff series tend to be more aggressive and have bigger stakes that help grow the rivalry.
Reason for the rivalry: The teams are built very differently.
The Colorado Avalanche have a lot of talent in their top-end talent, while the Coyotes get a majority of their scoring from committee. With the Avalanche you have Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen as the undisputed top with rookie Cale Makar making a strong case for himself. The Coyotes are a more balanced lineup, with nowhere near that ceiling in terms of talent and skill.
X-factor: The shared relocation history.
The Coyotes and Avalanche are linked in one important way, both teams were originally based in Canada and relocated in the 1990s. The Avalanche were originally the Quebec City Nordiques, and after the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg Quebec City was the rumored destination for the Coyotes before finding stable ownership.
It is tough to imagine a Colorado/Arizona rivalry forming in the next few seasons, but far from impossible. Right now the teams don’t have the shared history that tends to form a rivalry, although that history may be created in the next few seasons.
EDIT: Original draft of this article stated the Coyotes never met the Avalanche in the playoffs. The two teams met in the 1999-00 playoffs with the Avalanche winning the series in five games.