Besides Chico was what, 32 when he got traded here initially? That comparison's just wrong on so many levels.
That, and at the time Chico was dealt to the Rockies, there were reasons for hope...Lanny McDonald was there, Merlin Malinowski had a breakout year playing with McDonald, Steve Tambellini (who'd been traded with Chico) put up 18 points in 13 GP to close out the season, and second-year defenseman Rob Ramage was showing strong offensive skills. That Rockies team was over .500 as late as 21 games into the season (9-8-4), but as was always the case with the Rockies/early Devils teams, they always seemed to fall apart around that time (they went 13-37-9 the rest of the way). Still, there were reasons for optimism, as long as the team had some kind of plan to build around the pieces they already had.
But ownership issues (a constant problem with the Rockies, as each owner's financial woes affected the on-ice product) reared their ugly heads yet again, and the focus/plan (or what passed for one in Colorado) was changed on the fly as it always was back then. They traded McDonald just 16 games into the '81-'82 season for Don Lever and Bobby MacMillan...this happened a lot with the Rockies, where they had a way of giving the best player in any deal they made...this less than six weeks after making a "right now" trade with the Islanders that sent Dave Cameron and Bob Lorimer to the Rockies in exchange for their 1983 first-round pick (who became Pat LaFontaine). Malinowski, who hadn't been handled all that well by the Rockies to begin with in his time there (mostly due to Don Cherry, who detested him and basically cost him a year of development at the NHL level), was clearly affected by McDonald's departure and saw his '81-'82 season fall apart. And once the sale to McMullen was completed, Ramage wanted no part of NJ, and was moved to St. Louis as a result.
Anyway, the comparison isn't a good one because those Rockies teams were always in financial turmoil and changing hands, and from 1978 on were constantly rumored to be on the move, which in turn basically gave the team no chance for on-ice stability (they had seven coaches and seven captains in six seasons). All indications are that these owners have deep and secure pockets, and have zero plans to move this team elsewhere. Of course that alone doesn't guarantee anything, but it sure helps a hell of a lot.