Matt Duchene is telling us a story about growing up a Colorado Avalanche fan. Not just a fan but the kind of follower who cannot bear the idea of his heroes failing of Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy and Peter Forsberg losing a playoff series. The kind of fan who is heartsick with each loss and is filled with joy with each victory.

"Growing up I can't even being to express how big of an Avs fan I was. One year in 1999 they lost to Dallas in the conference finals and I wasn't allowed to stay up to watch the end of the game" Duchene told recently. "I woke up the next morning and my dad had put a piece of paper and taped it to my TV and said 'Dallas 2 Colorado 1 Sorry pal.' I started crying. I was bawling my eyes out."

The young Duchene was such a Roy fan that he initially wanted to be a goaltender.

"My dad said I could be a road hockey goalie but had to play out on the ice" Duchene said. "I think that was a good choice. I had a mask that I had painted like Roy's; I had posters of him in my room. It's pretty cool playing for him now. Sakic too. It's surreal really. The fact I could have a chance to win a Cup with those guys now -- I idolized them growing up. Obviously it's different now; I don't look at them the same way because I'm older. But I still have that part of me in there -- that 5- 6-year-old Matt is still there. It's pretty cool.''

And there you have it in a nutshell the story of the Colorado Avalanche. The heroes have come home. Not just for a visit but for good. Or at least for the foreseeable future.

That means this is now Joe Sakic's team. The former Avalanche captain and Hall of Famer is the Avs' executive vice president of hockey operations. He's the engineer sitting in his office manipulating the gears and pulleys and switches as he tries to rebuild what was once a given here in Denver: a winner. And it is Patrick Roy's team not just as head coach but as vice president of hockey operations too a title that was added when he accepted the coaching job in May. Adam Foote is here too working with the defensemen as a consultant. Roy's longtime backup Craig Billington is the assistant general manager.

Is it odd after all this time -- Roy has been coaching the Quebec Remparts in the Quebec major junior league for eight years -- to be back where he had so much success as a player?

"No it hasn't been odd" Roy told Tuesday some 30 hours before he would step behind the Avs' bench to coach his first NHL game. "If there's a place I wanted to come back it was here. I enjoyed all those years; those eight years in Denver were fantastic years. And having an opportunity to give back to our fans that were so nice to me as a player now I'm going to give back as a coach. I think it's a challenge that I like it's a challenge that I'm ready to give a shot at. I feel really comfortable."