Monday, December 1, 2008


Fresh off a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend which involved some friends and myself attending the game between the Avalanche and Coyotes on Friday I’m feeling an in-game blog coming on.

Let’s just say that after watching the Avorinos play hard for about seven minutes at the Arena/Condominium Complex I’m a bit “gruntled”. I’m not completely “disgruntled” mind you, but I’m fast approaching full-on exasperation with the Avs.

Still, hope springs eternal (and it isn’t like I have much to do anyways…) as I settle into my couch deep in my Mom’s basement. Would you expect anything less? I mean…the Avs have to start scoring right? Right?!?!?

And we’re off! Tonight features an inter-divisional matchup between the Avs and the team that the Avs upset in the playoffs last season, The Wild. I never get tired of writing that.

5:50 in…

Goal by Pierre Marc Bouchard.

We have a Martin Skoula sighting on that goal. I’m still perplexed how Marty has managed to carve out a career as a defenseman, and on the Wild no less. He has a penchant for…um…how do you say, making himself turn invisible? We all have superpowers. Me? I have a talent for complaining about hockey! SPANK!


Goal Marek Svatos! Uh oh. If Svatos gets cranked up this could be an interesting game. I have a friend who played against him once in a beer league game. Apparently playing against Svats is like trying to catch a hummingbird.

About 7 minutes in…

Whew! Nasty rebound off the crossbar. Budaj didn’t see that one and it slapped right down in the crease after nailing the iron. Those are the worst kind of hit-the-post rebounds for goalies because there is no way to know where the puck went.

A couple of thoughts here:

-The Avs are a much better team when they decide to crash the net. It is like a lost art with this team. They have made me long for the days when Adam Deadmarsh and Mike Ricci schooled the league in that area. Minnesota seems to be softer up the middle than Ken Hitchcock tonight. Um…boys…take advantage!

-Three words for the Wild uniforms: “Coleman Camping Collection”. There is trumpeting the fact that your state is a haven for sportsmen and outdoorsy types, and then there is going out of your way to make sure you will get accidentally shot if your wear your team's jersey in the woods.

3:30 left…

Smitty gets mugged by the Wild net. The close up shot reveals that he may be attempting to grow his mullet back, and we all should know what that means. Yep, 6 more months of winter!

The Avs are on the power play facing up against a Wild team that is killing 89% of their shorthanded situations. Yikes. Stastny keeps getting denied. I’m waiting for him to finally snap and start fighting people. Hope, hope!

47.9 seconds left…

Goal Mikko Koivu. Oh and Smitty gets the gate again for verbally abusing the officials. Captain Canada needs to cool it a bit. With Burnaby Joe out this is his team now.

Let’s roll it on to the second period.

22 seconds in…

Goal Bouchard! Good grief. Is this the part of the game where the wheels come off the Avs? Please say no. I have…so many nachos left…


GOAL STATS! Finally! The kid finally breaks out of a 4 game scoring slump with a dirty chipper from the low slot. So yer sayin’ there’s a chance?

His fifth goal of the season knots this one up at three. The Avs are vibing well right now. In fact they couldn’t vibe any better if they had Ravi Shankar on the bench juggling crystals.


Tyler Arnason gets popped by the Wild net. This is the hardest he’s been hit since he accidentally stepped on Jose Theodore’s paycheck in the locker room during the Detroit series last season.


Jordan Leopold is STILL HEALTHY. Stay tuned.


Hejduk steals the puck low and scores!

This goal was provided by donors like you…and a boneheaded Marek Zidlicky turning the puck back into his own zone, even though he had a clear chip shot up the ice. Thanks buddy.

Here’s a stat: The Avs had gone 11 straight games with out scoring multiple goals in a period. And you were wondering why I can’t crank out more than one DNP a week…


T.J. Hensick scores! Whew! Could this be the kind of blowout that carries Avs fans through the winter?


STATS AGAIN! Good gravy. That one was gifted to him in the form of a rebound provided by a driving Smitty. I hope Granato is taking notes here:

1. Drive the net.
2. Play hard all the time.
3. Stop going out for drinks after the game with the team.

40.1 left…

Owen Nolan. Goal. That one was for every beer leaguer over the age 65. Keep reaching for the stars boys!

Make that three power play goals for the Wild on the night. Something tells me the Avs might not be so good on the penalty kill…It’s just a guess…let’s go to the third…

After one of the more exciting periods of the season the third appears to have taken a full dose of Ritalin…fortunately for the Wild, Josh Harding is now holding down the crease. Assuming no more goals go in this means that Harding is going to make some Wild fan happy in their fantasy league.

“Ya see boys! I told ya dat Harding wasn’t gonna let nothing in! Pass me a Leinies and some sliders!”

6:00 in…Grind Time

Brent Burns manages to kick the puck in by also kicking Budaj off the post. But this is allowed because, like, it’s Brent Burns! I mean, yer allowed to do that right?

Oh boy. This is getting tight. If the Avs lose this I might come down with shingles. The tension is palpable!

Zero seconds left…GOAL WILD…wait…check that. Time ran out. No goal. Looks like the Twin cities might see a drop in production in the work force tomorrow. Good.

With that said, The Avs were due in this one. I’m just hoping the dam stays broken. They ain’t gonna win a Cup, but that doesn’t mean they can’t play with the same heart that they did tonight.

Bravo boys. Bravo!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Message From the Dark Lord

Dear Avalanche Fans,

It has been a topsy-turvy season for your team, one that has been a pleasure for iced hockey fans like myself who thrive on inconsistency, a lack of scoring, and spotty goaltending.

Who doesn’t enjoy shelling out precious duckets to attend or watch contests that feature grown men shoveling a puck back and forth over an icy surface and never scoring?

I know I do.

I have especially enjoyed watching Aaron D’Albey re-typing variations of the above sentences over and over again during the first quarter of the season, and am looking forward to another five months of him scribing it into his computer-box in an effort to bore the life out of readers.

This is why the Avalanche and Kings game last night was a terrifyingly familiar jaunt into land of mirth and uncertainty. How delightfully disastrous! Your Boys of Burgundy actually managed to secure a two-goal lead before sanity set in, and in the name of fair play allowed my team, the Kings of Los Angeles back into the game before unfortunately defeating them in the shootout.

Chalk one up to character building.

I feel it was quite generous of Peter Budaj to provide my young Kings team hope for the future. It is left to be seen that my club from La-La Land may one day may not need to resort to dirty play of the sort which includes shoving their fellow hockey brethren face first into the boards in an attempt to shake them from their game. But in the meantime I hope they may find a way to take pleasure in the little things like making the black disc of glory hover above the ice surface, or dare I hope, go into the opposing team’s net.

I for one am an enormous fan of clubs that go out of their way to cripple important Avalanche players. I have felt this way ever since one of my minions, a young Kris Draper was sent into the boards by a salty old veteran by the name of Claude Lemieux.

You see I do not believe that the people of Colorado need to take pleasure in successful teams in games of sport. Why, the citizens of the Centennial State should not be allowed to feel good, and must be compelled to work on Sundays. I don’t care what “HE” thinks about that, there are widgets to be crafted! Damn the Broncos! Up with the Raiders!

So take heed, fans of the team from The Mount, last year it was Ryan Smyth and Marek Svatos who were felled with life altering injuries at the hands of the Kings. This year it was Adam Foote and Wojtek Wolski.

What lies ahead is yet to be seen…bwwwahahahahaha!

Kittens and Rainbows,


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Go Figuring

Is there anything scarier than flipping open the Sunday paper to read “Flames Surround Los Angeles”, as is plastered across the top of the Arizona Republic today. Nothing says your town is in deep trouble quite like that…

I think the only thing that would be more terrifying is if “Invading Mongol Hordes” replaced “Flames” in the headline.

Is this the time to make some kind of Anze Kopitar is a pyromaniac werewolf joke? In most cases, yes. Considering how LA is under siege by nature today…maybe not. Still, I do believe that Anze Kopitar is in fact a werewolf, and I’m sticking by that assertion (note the black rings under his eyes, his shaggy appearance, and of course, the fangs). At some point if the Kings continue to flounder I fully expect to see Kopitar naked on the roof of a burning Staples Center swinging a chain while howling.

My point of this whole thing is that despite the schizophrenic play by the Avalanche over the last month, which has left many people (including yours truly) at a loss for words, things could be worse.

After last evening’s spirited 33 save effort from Peter Budaj, he of the shirtless Ned Flanders helmet is again showing enough flash to make a case that he is capable of holding down a starting goalie role in the NHL. The same can be said about Darcy Tucker, who despite his history of cheap and dangerous play has also created an argument that perhaps fans aren’t giving him a fair shake.

T.J. Hensick, not so surprisingly is also becoming comfortable playing in big leagues, which is an encouraging sign that perhaps Tony Granato is capable of using talent within the Avalanche system. This is a nice selling point when trying to discern the differences between Granato and “I fell backwards into a talented franchise in Chicago after getting fired” Joel Quenneville.

All things considered this is an Avalanche team, which like last season, is continually on the mend and still maturing. Factor in a new coach and there will be struggles. The problem as always is that in a Denver market where even a bad Broncos team will always be the draw, the Avalanche are compelled to push for the playoffs every season just to make payroll. This task is made more challenging by the fact that the organization hasn’t seen anywhere close to an advantageous draft-position since the Quebec days.

If anything this season is begging for a bit of perspective from Avalanche fans, a lowering of standards if you will. This team will surely find its way back into a relevant position. But these things take time. Baby steps…

A few other thoughts on a Sunday

-With Martin Brodeur out for a few months the obvious observation is that Patrick Roy has to be ecstatic that his wins record will take longer to break. As a goalie (and enormous apologist for Roy, who is the greatest goalie of all time) I can’t help but think that Marty’s absence from the game leaves a big hole. In the end sports are thrilling because of competition. Close games are always more fun to watch than blowouts. The Devils are not the same team without Brodeur, and as a fan of the game I can only hope that he returns to hold down the crease in New Jersey for a few more turns.

-The best regular season game I have seen in years occurred this week between the Penguins and Red Wings. Surely it was great to see the Pens come from behind to down the Wings in overtime, but that contest featured everything one could want out of two top-flight clubs. Much has been said for Detroit’s organizational resilience in the post-lockout years, but as Jordan Staal was picking the pocket of Pavel Datsyuk and shoveling the puck for a game winning assist I couldn’t help but yelp in appreciation.

Finally, talent beat Goliath. Youth overcame The System. Progress is a good thing.

-Is Dallas going to make the playoffs? I didn’t think I would be asking this question going into the season, but from the looks of it the Stars don’t have enough cohesion to make the Big Dance.

Much was made of Sean Avery’s transition to the Western Conference but it seems like his inclusion on what was otherwise a strong team may have been a mistake. Dallas already had an agitator in the form of Steve Ott, and what Brett Hull was thinking in bringing Avery over is a mystery. Avery is certainly a master at drawing attention, but in hockey, players who are perceived as self-promoting can be disruptive. Warning bells went off in Dallas after the Boston melee of a couple of weeks ago that had Mike Modano chastising the club from the mountain tops, and the return of Sergei Zubov and Jere Lehtinen don’t seem to have had much of an immediate effect. Should Dallas continue to slide the answer may include the departure of Avery before the trade deadline.

-Poor Barry. After Melrose was let go this week, a mere six weeks into the season, I can’t help but feel bad for the guy. Here is a coach whose previous stint in the bigs had him stalking the bench behind the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille. This time much was made about how inspirational Barry was, and how he brought only the best out of his team. I still believe there is a place for that kind of attitude in coaching. Barry should have been given a longer shot at success coaching a team one season removed from a disastrous campaign, which culminated in the squad tanking in order to win the Steven Stamkos sweepstakes. As I stated above, progress is a good thing, but progress also takes time to gain momentum. The under-performing Lightning and Barry Melrose deserve better.

-Finally, how good is Boston? I keep wondering this, and not only because Tim Thomas has nicely rounded out my otherwise unbeatable stable of goalies on my fantasy team (Lundqvist, Miller, Thomas). Each season there seems to be a team that I keep flipping to when I turn on the teevee. This season I keep landing on Boston. Perhaps it’s fate?

The Bruins are 10-3-4 on the year and are beginning to look not only fortuitous, but also downright stout. Phil Kessel is in the midst of a breakout season, and Marc Savard is pumping away with 19 points in 17 games. Zdeno Chara is crushing people as usual, but the success of this team has to rest on the shoulders of Thomas.

The easy way to tell if a team is good is to look at the two-way play of their forwards, but this is a generic view. The real “tell” of a good hockey team is to watch for confidence in their goaltender. So far this season Thomas appears to have become a patient master of the position. There is absolutely no panic in that man. The Bruins are generating momentum off of this attitude, and for the foreseeable future may make for couple of surprises come playoff time.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thoughts on a Sunday

So ends another week of strange futility by the Avalanche. I can’t decide what to write about them because really, I can’t figure out anything to write about. I actually had this conversation with a friend today over the phone:

“I have nothing to write about, and I don’t think many people can say much about the Avalanche that isn’t obvious. They either stink badly or only stink a little. The Denver Post just did an article about how Paul Stastny uses wood sticks for crying out loud! This team can’t even seem to be interestingly bad most of the time. ”

“Didn’t Budaj get a shutout in the last game? You can write about that.”

“I don’t want to. There are shutouts which are well deserved. And there are shutouts which are the product of desperation. You know, like how a guy who knows he might get fired starts pumping out a ridiculous amount of work? Well, Budaj’s was the latter. My head hurts.”

Even worse, have you ever had one of those dead weeks in sports where not even your fantasy squad meets with much luck? You know the kind where none of your goalies do anything of merit against easy teams?

I had one of those weeks this week.

Neither the Avalanche nor the Iron Mullets did much except lose. On top of that, nothing feels quite as lame as having your real and fantasy Captain go down with a bad back...

The lameness isn’t a good or bad feeling so much as it is neither shocking nor unpredictable.

One of the more interesting developments this week was Darcy Tucker finding his way onto the score sheet. Tucker has chalked up 6 points in 14 games and sits at minus-2 on the season. Contrast that with Andrew Brunette who has 9 points in 13 games and is also a minus-2.

Tucker makes 2,250,000 a season
Brunette makes 2,333,000 a season

Bruno has more points in fewer games and costs a mere 83,000 more in Monopoly money. I’m not quite sure what this means but I swear I’m not at all bitter about it.

In better news, T.J. Hensick and Kyle Cumiskey were brought up for a tour with the big club, which caused me to start a list:

Signs You Might Want to Avoid Becoming Emotionally Attached to Your Hockey Team

#1 Your 39 year old warhorse goes out with a bad back a month into the season.

#2 Fans are begging the coach to play the kids with less than a quarter of the season gone, and their wish is granted out of sheer necessity.

#3 Your goalie follows up five embarrassing losses with a shutout. (Because, you know, enough is enough already!)

#4 Your team has people who felt that pillaging at least one player from the Maple Leafs was a good idea.

I got tired of writing the list after number four because I got distracted by a rerun of Bear Grylls dissecting and then sleeping in a camel.

Writing about this team is frustrating.

One of the problems that the Avalanche is having is a glaring identity problem. This team is attempting to be both bruising and built for speed. If I had to wager I would say that coming out of the lockout management felt that the game was going in a newer, faster direction ala the Buffalo Sabres. Only the new style hung around for precisely one season in the Western Conference.

Sports in general are all about systems. This is why Detroit never seemed to falter after the lockout. Ken Holland and Scottie Bowman had a system, and spent the last decade drafting players tailored to Detroit’s method of hockey. The reason the Avalanche are struggling is that they are a mish-mash of players tailored to various coaching systems.

The Avalanche caught their mistake and seem to be attempting to turn the tide, but at times the tide seems directionless. Throw in a new/old coach and the system gets even more convoluted.

In order to see some kind of success this year the team must answer a question that many fans are beginning to ask: Who exactly are the Avalanche?

If only because I’d like to have something interesting to write about…

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mailbag day!

Well sportorinos after a bit of a layoff I thought I’d throw out the first mailbag of the new season. As always the bitterness runs deep. Keep in mind, we are now a solid eight years removed from the last Avalanche title. Eight years! Crikey. That’s a long time. I feel your angst. Actually I don’t just feel it, I’m a walking angst machine!

-Talk to me D. How do the Avs win a title this season? Simple. They don’t.


Well Brad, the only way the Avs win a title is if somehow they land an absolute ringer in net (of course I’m writing this as Johnny Toewes is lighting up Budaj like a roman candle). There are believers in the Avalanche goalies, but when it comes to goaltending I’m a realist. There just aren’t that many goalies capable of carrying a team to a Cup these days, and the Avs have not one, but TWO backup goalies.

I think there are only three goalies who could get hot enough, and have the talent to bring their respective squads to the promised land: Henrik Lundqvist, Martin Brodeur, and Roberto Luongo.

These days it is all about the defense in front of a goalie. This is how Chris Osgood (of all people) is considered Hall of Fame worthy. Just the mere thought of the man making the HOF makes me nauseous. If he was worthy then why were the Wings constantly searching for a goalie in their down years? I guarantee if Dom Hasek was A) ten years younger and B) sane, the Wings would take him in a second.

Unfortunately there just aren’t many goalies available who can play at a level necessary to even carry their team past the second round. Nik Khabibulin seems to come up in conversation a lot these days. If, and I mean IF the Avs get Khabibulin, I’m not sure if they have a defense that is stout enough to keep the man in net long enough for him to even get hot.

D’Albass, you know the Avs suck. And everyone knows you suck. In fact you suck so hard you could not only clean off a chrome trailer hitch, you could then sell your lungs for scrap metal afterwards.


Thanks Mike. I missed Mike. I’m sure it was a long summer for him…what with all that looking for work outside of the methadone clinic.

Who wins the Northwest? Not the Avs, right? They score a lot, but that’s about it.


Alright, I’m laying it down. Somehow. Some way. The Avalanche will find a way to win the Northwest. How do I know this? Simple. The Avalanche since their inception, have always found a way to be just competitive enough that they don’t get decent draft picks. They either score players in the later rounds (Drury, Hejduk, even Stastny in the 2nd round AFTER Ryan Stoa) or they trade for them. One way or another they absolutely refuse to suck hard enough to build a solid franchise through the draft. This is a given.

Chris Stewart, are you listening?

Now that the Coyotes are good you are a fan. You know you are a fan. Loser.


Yeah that’s it. I’m a Yotes fan now. I go all the way to the desert to find work and fall in love with the hockey team. Seriously. No I mean really…I LOVE driving 30 miles to an arena that looks like a condominium complex on the outside to sit with people who have migrated from Detroit and watch a young, spritied team coached by the greatest hockey player of all time. Why you ask? Irony. Yep. I’m a white guy. Can’t get enough of ironic things like watching a team playing ice hockey in the middle of the largest desert in North America, all while wondering if what I’m doing is actually ironic. Oh the irony…ya know what would be really ironic? If after saying that the Avs beat the Yotes in the playoffs. Why, because then I’d have absolutely no idea what irony was or could be at that point.

And with that in mind I just watched Joel Quenneville smack his former team and former assistant Coach as the new head of the Blackhawks.

Revenge anyone?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Four games at once?! You betcha, guy!

My how things can change. In this space, about this time last week, I was just hoping the Avalanche could win a game before Christmas. Now? It seems all the Avalanche need to go on a Cup run is a decent goalie.
I considered cranking out an article about how the Avs are the Sabres of the Western Conference: Lots of flash and dash but lacking enough substance to go anywhere. Hooray for cynical hockey writing!

I needed to readjust and start enjoying this sport again. That and burn out the cartilage in my wrists. You think nailing together a one game commentary is tough? Try four games at once. Yep, I have settled down for a 1 hour burn through four games in an attempt to gain some enlightenment.

Remember; pour beer down center to release carbonation and aroma.


The games on tap appear to be:

Game 1- Pens-Rangers from MSG
Game 2- Canes-Isles from Nassau Coliseum
Game 3- Boston-Atlanta in Beantown
Game 4-Ducks-Habs at the Bell Centre

Lord. All potentially fast moving East coast games. I may need to hire a court reporter to do my typing.

Game 1- 2 minutes in…
The Rangers look at bit slow coming into this game. It’s just a theory but the Blueshirts might be hungover. Fortunately with the cooler weather the urine stink at the top on MSG around the concessions should be under control. So they have that going for them.

Game 2- 2 minutes in…
Canes and Isles…Canes and Isles…
I’ll make a bit of a wager here. The only way the Isles win this is if Rick DiPietro somehow inherited bionic hips last week.

The tech folks just flashed up the Sutter family tree to illustrate just how many Sutters have played in the NHL. With Brandon Sutter hammering out ice time on the Canes the number now stands somewhere in the area of 36.
That family has definitely staked their legacy as the Von Traps of hockey. The Granatos better step it up!

Game 3- 2 minutes in…

Manny Fernandez is facing Johan Hedberg. With that in mind the final score here should be somewhere in the area of 13-10, with Jason Elam kicking the winning field goal in overtime.

Oooh! 20 seconds in and Todd White gets rung up for charging, and Atlanta is fired up!

Every time Boston plays a game I fully expect Adam Sandler to rush the ice and start punching opposing players. It’s like, a dream of mine.

Game 4- 2:40 in…

GOAL by Kent Huskins.

The Ducks roster clearly states that Kent plays for Anaheim. Okay then. George Parros nailed down an assist on that one. I keep trying to figure out if in another life Parros with that ‘stache was an adult film star or a gold prospector. I’m thinking the latter. He strikes me as the kind of person who gets interviewed by local news people right after his secluded cabin in the mountains gets washed out by a flash flood.

5:41 in and here we go again! Getzlaf with the goal.

That guy is a hoss. I spent all last season talking smack to the people in my fantasy league about how he might not be a great fantasy player. It was a ruse that failed miserably, and I never got him on my team. I missed again this year. Maybe next year I can get yahoo to somehow cloak Getzlaf in their player rankings so I can quietly steal him.

Game 2-

The announcers are talking about “This Brendan Witt situation”
Did I miss something? He’s out with an injury. What is he now on the roof of Nassau naked and swinging a chain?! I’m concerned. You know things are going badly for your hockey team when you have a Brendan Witt situation.

8:49 in…Brindy with a nifty goal past a swimming DiPi.

When the Canes won the Cup I made fun of him for kind of looking like Frankenstein. I’d like to retract that. He’s only partially robotic. The rest of Rod Brind'Amour is 100% human. Sorry.

Game 1- 9:04 in…Darryl Sydor with a goal

Okay really. The Pens defensive situation is horrible enough that Sydor has stepped in for Gonchar and Whitney while sharing the ice with rookies like Alex Goligoski. Nice goal by Darryl though. It seems like he went from fantasy hockey darling to “he’s still playing?” in a short span of time…and yet somehow Martin Skoula played on a defensively minded team (Minnesota) whilst Darryl was maligned. Hockey doesn’t make sense sometimes.

Here’s an uplifting commercial:

“That’s Dan. And I’m Dan’s pancreatic cancer…”

Hello Dan’s pancreatic cancer! I’m Aaron’s inability to put up with commercials reminding me about cancer. Would you mind paying royalties to Chuck Palahniuk for stealing his literary devices? I think Tyler Durden might like to have a word with you.

Game 3- Back to Beantown…

“Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen are the remainder of Marian Hossa”

Gotta love that kind of division by the announcers. Do you think that’s how the Hossa trade went down for Atlanta GM Don Waddell?

“Well we traded Dany Heatley for Hossa. That was a pretty fair trade. But now you want me to trade Hossa for Armstrong and Christensen? Okay let’s think this over. I’d say Armstrong is like 50% of Marian Hossa…IF one considers his atomic composition. He might be solid gold. From what I understand Christensen could be like, 48% polonium, but we are waiting on the geologic reports. But…Angelo Esposito could be 100% dynamite! Okay, let’s do this!”

15:03 in…goal by Jason Williams.

Exactly how many Williamses are there in this league? 50? Or is there only one Williams and he’s been passed around from team to team? I’m confused. Is he the same brand as Jon Sim 4.0?

19:94 in …Mathieu Schneider goal.

Let’s wrap this up. My wrists are frozen. Seriously. I could like, chop though stuff. Like wood! Or…or wood! Wait, I said that already…

Game 4- Don Cherry

I gotta say this. Can the NFL please stop stealing ideas and traditions from the NHL? There is no Football Night in America! There just isn’t. There was once Sunday Night Football. It should have remained Sunday Night Football. IT WAS FINE! Have some friggin’ respect and come up with your own ideas.

I’m waiting for Don Cherry to snap, travel south, and beat the hell out of Bob Costas. You know, for the kids.

Cherry by the way is sporting a lavender suit. Yep. Lavender. Nothing says “don’t screw with the old guy” quite like a lavender suit.

I like to think that his early period with the Colorado Rockies was more of a developmental stage wherein he was more introspective in nature. So much plaid… It wasn’t until he moved on to Coach’s Corner that I feel he was able to blossom as an artist, and let his true colors, as it were, shine through. These are the greatest days of what can be referred to as the Late Cherry Era, which has featured collectors fighting for every new work. Every scrap of history produced by the legend. He is history…and history is Don Cherry.

Remember that kids.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Often times when I write this column I find myself wondering why I write. I suppose we all run into these periods in life, when we question just why we are doing what we are doing.

If you are like me and involved in architecture you find yourself asking this question frequently, especially during conversations with people who find what you do to be amazing. “If they only knew…”

Architecture, more often than not is long, aggravating periods of wanting the work to come to an end, all while accepting that being overwhelmed with work in this day and age is probably a good thing.

It is times like this when I think of what life is like for players who spend their careers bumping around on the third and fourth lines on various hockey teams, like drafters in a design profession. Those vagabonds. These grinders. These people who sacrifice their bodies day in and day out for the glory of five minutes of rigor and violence.

Occasionally a goal is scored. Occasionally a fight is won. But mostly it seems to involve long periods of waiting for action. Like soldiers on the front line who expend much of their energy simply fighting off hours boredom while pining for brief moments of adrenaline. There is something infinitely interesting about that tension. It is tangible and palpable.

Much is made of the architects of the game, and of the beauty and precision with which they work. These are the lucky few, these people of worship. Lamentably they aren’t the people with whom I can always relate.

To me grinders are the players who bring character to the game. They are the plumbers and welders of the sport. If given a choice I’d like to think that I would hang out with Ian Laperriere instead of Joe Sakic, if only because he might have something interesting to say without becoming sickened from the regurgitation of experience and repetitive questioning.

So on days like this when I’ve been worn down from another day of doing a job that everyone else thinks they want to do, I like to take a break from questioning my motivation and think of those who are simply happy to be “there”. Those people who are the willing grinders in life, who know there is something bigger and better, yet are just as happy to accept a beer and fill your ears with tales of battle instead.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Drop in Hockey

Oh for a win…

With today’s announcement that Peter Budaj is being replaced between the pipes by Andrew Raycroft, Avalanche fans can hardly be blamed for their exasperation. To date the last time our boys in burgundy won a game that counted was April 19th, as Mr. Propecia, Jose Theodore completed a magnificent series against the Wild.

Since that fateful day the Avalanche have been beaten, beleaguered and turned into a virtual punching bag by the NHL. The easy out at this point is to blame the goalies for the team’s futility. It is typical and hurts less than admitting the futility may run deeper.

To be honest, Budaj hasn’t been David Aebischer blowing the first save of every important game bad. Rather, the man has been put into a situation that no goalie wants- he has been turned into a pylon by his defense.

To many goalies this feeling can be summarized in three words: Drop in hockey.

Drop in hockey to many who play is a great way to stay in shape. It is fast moving and exciting. Passes fly, players attempt new moves and shots, and everyone has a bunch of fun…except the goalies.

To most goalies, drop in hockey is a voluntary descent into the 10th circle of Dante’s Hell. You know the part with divorce lawyers and commercial artists. Except if that part of hell featured hockey with no referees, and nobody played defense.

It is an empty feeling, playing behind a bad defense.

A great defense saves a goalie in one major way- they keep the shots down, literally and on the score sheet. Great defensemen clear the puck, move opposing players out of way, and maintain order in the defensive end.

A bad defense doesn’t always do any of the above, which causes shots to go up. When faced with too many shots a goalie, no matter how good he is, is prone to overcompensation and panic.

To summarize the descent in to goalie hell let me explain. More shots cause a goalie to work harder, this makes him tired, tired becomes exhaustion, which makes him start leaning, falling down, and flailing. This causes goals to go up, which finally causes said goalie to overcompensate and panic.

It is a miserable and humiliating experience.

In the first three games of the new season, Peter Budaj, who again hasn’t been that bad considering the circumstances, has been seen falling out of the crease like he’s getting shot by a sniper. Budaj isn’t squaring to the puck. He is playing small. He can’t even seem to focus enough to catch easy wrist shots in his glove. And the worst part is that little of this behavior is really his fault.

I am legitimately concerned about the Avalanche this season. As I stated before they will score goals, and they do. But this team will go absolutely nowhere until their defense decides to play as a unit throughout their top six. Otherwise they may need to stock up on goalies.

On the bright side, perhaps management will decide to pick up a top-flight defenseman at some point this season rather than throwing money at Peter Forsberg. I can only hope.

We are already down to Andrew Raycroft, people.

Andrew Raycroft!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thought on a Sunday

Every year there is a rumor that floats around for the better part of the offseason which spills over into the regular season. Last season the popular rumor centered around the personification of injury problems- Peter Forsberg. This season we are stuck with yet another Swede who may or may not play (even though he probably shouldn't)- Mats Sundin.

The current predominant Sundin rumor is that the Sens are pushing for Sundin, as Daniel Alfredsson is in the shop for a couple of weeks getting a bone chip removed from his knee. The notion is that Heatley and Spezza will have nobody else to play with on their line.

Let's think about this for a minute. Mats Sundin is a center. Daniel Alfredsson is a wing. Alfie plays opposite Dany Heatley in most situations, with Jason Spezza centering them. Every year some Ottawa coach at the time talks about breaking up this line, and it happens...for about 2 games before the line is reunited, which makes for interesting annual arguments in fantasy leagues across North America.

Alfredsson's injury shouldn't mean the Sens go into panic mode and attempt to land Sundin, here's why- even if they wanted to sign the man they don't have anywhere close to the necessary salary cap room.

(I'd also like to add that they would be sporting two centers on their top line (Spezza and Sundin), or else they'd be looking at throwing big money at a 2nd line center who hasn't touched any ice not involved in a gin and tonic for well over 8 months.)

According to the salary cap for the 2008-09 season is $56.7 million. As it stands the Ottawa Senators are at $53,176,555 and after taxes, title and fees have precisely $3,236,004 in cap room.

Just over three mil a year is below market value for even a retired Mats Sundin, and far below the 10 million dollars a season he was offered by Montreal earlier this year and rejected.

The fact of the matter is that even if Sundin wants to come back, all indications point to the fact that he would really only like to do it with Toronto, a team that basically kicked him out the door. (Don't get me started on that abstract and sad situation.)

Some people are predicting Mats goes to Detroit if he returns. Not only would Sundin going to Detroit be akin to blasphemy, but he would be asked to accept just over 47 grand to play, as the Wings are tight to the cap. The last time I checked, this cannot happen as NHLPA rules dictate that professional hockey players in the NHL are not allowed to make teacher money.

So there is no way Detroit, which has somehow managed to convince a slew of talented players to take far below market value to play for the Wings in the quest for the Cup, will get Mats Sundin.

The following are the teams where Sundin could play:

Atlanta (over 10 mil in cap room) -Mats plays for Atlanta the day the sun goes supernova.
Buffalo (over 5 mil in cap room)- Possible but improbable.
Carolina (over 5 mil in cap room)- Brindy and Staal.
Colorado (over 4 mil in cap room)- The Avalanche don't need a center with the return of Sakic (and probably Forsberg in December)
Columbus (over 6 mil in cap room)- Columbus has already invested in youth, and Sundin is practically unnecessary on a team where one must hip check to play.
LA (over 12 mil in cap room) The Kings have a LOT of work to do before they should even consider asking Sundin to live on the worlds largest parking lot.
NJ (over 10 mil in cap room)- mmmaybe? But why would the Devils throw most of their cap money at a retired guy when they already have a blossiming Zach Parise?
NYI (over 8 mil in cap room)- *snick*
Phoenix (over 9 mil in cap room)- Not with that youth movement in full effect, and they already signed Jokinen.
Toronto (over 7 mil in cap room)- Please, somebody disband the Leafs, for the sake of the children.
Vancouver- (over 9 mil in cap room)- They tried. He blew them off like the cheer squad ignoring the chess club.

Finally, there is the HUGE assumption that if Mats Sundin were to return he would actually be effective. Keep in mind the last time Mats Sundin potted over 80 points was the 1998-99 season.

Bottom line, even if Sundin wants to come back, does anyone at this point really think any team with the financial wherewithal would take him?

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Straight off the couch it’s the DNP with Game One of the new Avalanche season!

I'm excited! The new season means one thing above all else: we get to make fun of guys on skates with mullets again. Ahhh, I missed hockey.

So without further adieu…

6:30 left in the 1st Period- I’m finally cutting in to the game after what seems like hours of arguing with the help at Cox cable. Seems Center Ice doesn’t cover games shown on Versus. I did not know this. So for five more dollars a month, I now have permission from the cable people to watch the Avalanche on m’teevee! Lo, the price one must pay to pay attention to ice hockey while living in the middle of a desert. I’m…not smart.

5:08- Wolski goal! Is this the start of a career for Dub Dub? From the looks of it the kid gained no weight. This isn’t a good sign but what do I know, I live in my Mom’s basement.

3:50- Love the announcers on this game. “Tony Granato is much more confident this time as coach…”

We are in good hands. Coach is confident this time. I’m reassured.

Mike Richter and Bryan Leetch are at the Can for the big start of the new season. Is there any way the Avs can talk Leetchie into moonlighting? These are tough times. Dude might need the money! Someone should ask him.

2:52- Scott Hannan goes back for the puck. He did a lot of that last season. I have to wonder what is less fun for a defenseman- Going back for the puck? What about getting hit by the puck? Ooh...or how about almost never scoring?

Actually, outside of hitting, what is really that much fun about being a defenseman?

1:50- The Avs are having issues clearing the puck, and I just noticed that Smitty’s mullet has been trimmed. I’m becoming legitimately concerned about the team.

The first intermission interview of the new year is with Captain Joe who somehow manages to express that he likes the Avs depth this season. As always I feel that Joe did a good job on that interview. I mean, there were parts where he could have improved, but really he’s just taking it one interview at a time, while hoping for the best.

I missed Joe.

This just in! Robbie Luongo was named captain of the Canucks earlier. I thought naming your goalie captain wasn’t allowed in hockey, but now that I think about it, who else is going to be the captain of that squad?

18:00 left in the 2nd- The Avs jump out with better D and kill off a penalty. This kill is special because it involves Joe Sakic back checking at the age of 39. I’m not even sure how to describe that sight now that I know that once your body gets much past the age of 32, sneezing wrong can cause you to throw out your back.

14:27 - Two interesting things just happened. Ruslan Salei brought out the boomstick on a nasty slapper from the point, and Scott Thornton cleaned out Darcy Tucker.

I’m okay with both of these things.

14:40- Krejci and Lucic. One is Canadian. One is a Czech. I’ll let you decide.

13:26- Nothing big from Joe Sakic, ladies and gentlemen. Remain calm. The man only stole the puck from two defenders, snapped off a rope, and left the cleanup for Cody McCloud. No biggie.

12:45- Interesting news here: Brett Clark changed sides so he could play with Adam Foote. Methinks this may cause problems for the defense.

11:31- Darcy Tucker gets pinched out of the play after beating his man to the puck.

(I have nothing here other than I just wrote the above so I don’t have to type it again in the future. I can cut and paste. It is more efficient. This team will score, oh yes. But their physical guys have to actually control the puck when they are being physical. Let’s move into the 3rd period before I get more aggravated)

14:24- Michael “Knight” Ryder with the score. Can someone explain to me why the producers of Knight Rider decided to stick a fin and ventilation pipes on the Shelby? It looks like a remote controlled car that would sell at Wal Mart. I’m bummed.

9:43- Score! Jordan Leopold to tie it up at four. He somehow managed to get the puck to the back of the net without giving himself a hernia. I think we all win on this one.

The media circus stops for a moment to interview Natalie and Don Granato, Cammi’s parents. I gotta say it, they are exactly what I envisioned the leaders of the Granato clan to be: Nice, courteous, and worn the hell out from years of driving kids to practice at 5am.

7:30 to 4:00- Grind time. This game has all the makings of an overtimer. Which would mean that there is the potential Keith Jones may refer to it as a "tilt" during the next break.

3:20- Svatos between the circles? No!

Here’s a terrifying fantasy pairing: Marek Svatos and Tyler Arnason. Watch it Edmonton! Are you seeing this?! Fear the Avalanche! Fear them!

2:36- Krejci. Score. Something tells me he has the potential to be one of the best players in hockey and not even his own coach will have confidence when trying to pronounce his name.

“Um. Krererrrejjjji-seee. KarIRRRidge-essessssEEE. Um. David did great tonight.”

1:41- The Avalanche go on the PP right at the end of the game. Now THIS is worth the price of a ticket in a bad economy.

It’s go time. Shot. Shot. Shot annnddd….

3 seconds left- NO! Captain Joe gets stopped on a snapper up close! GAAHHH!!!!

Game over.

Okay I admit it, this might be another frustrating season, but if the Avs keep up the tempo it might not be lame.

Good times.

I’m going to bed.

The Season Opens Tonight on Versus!

Your Colorado Avalanche open the season tonight on Versus against the Boston Bruins for what should be an exciting start to the season for two teams which are already struggling to make the playoffs.

The Avalanche feature a (finally) healthy team led by the returning Joe Sakic, who apparently figured out over the summer that he wouldn't know what to do for eight months of the year without hockey. (Denny's gets pretty boring if you try and hang out there for longer than two hours. They won't even keep filling your coffee if they figure out that you have nothing else to do. It's soooo totally lame!)

Captain Joe needs a mere 28 assists to pass Mario Lemieux on the all-time assists list. Say that five times fast...assist list...assist list...

On the other bench will sit the Boston Bruins, who have plenty of time to pay attention to hockey now that it is clear the Patriots stink (yes!). Terry O'Reilly retired years ago so the Bruins will look elsewhere for a man willing to fight the newly minted antagonization combo of Darcy Tucker and Ian Laperierre.

Zdeno Chara is about seven feet tall on skates, and for some reason opposing players have yet to figure out how to trip him out of the rink. But you know it could happen, that's why we watch.

I'll roll out my commentary after the game, since I lack the ability to type fast enough to keep up with the fastest game on Earth. So join me then as I explore new ways to make fun of our favorite sport.

The Colorado Avalanche tonight on Versus- They show hockey there. No really.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Knight Rambler

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

So what to write after what seemed like the longest offseason in the history of the Avalanche?

No Cup. No electrifying new players. Nothing but the lingering effects of being unceremoniously dumped in the second round by a juggernaut. Hooray. I've gone through five versions of what is supposed to be my grand 2008-2009 version of the DNP and I keep returning to one conclusion: I'm not excited at all by this year's edition of the Colorado Avalanche.

What is there to cheer for outside of an encore performance by Captain Joe?

Let's ring off the Avs hot summer signings!

-Darcy Tucker. Really? The last time I checked it took Mats Sundin in his prime to lift Tucker to a level where many hockey fans genuinely dislike him. Was keeping Andrew Brunette around going to be that difficult?

-Andrew Raycroft. Okay? Should the Avs coaching staff be preparing to scout around for another goalie if Jeff Hackett coaches the former Calder winner back into form, and he leaves for more money? Or is he going to simply end up as the backup to a guy who should be a backup- Peter Budaj?

Or should they just play Jeff Hackett? Hmm...

-Per Ledin. Do you apply this before or after swimming and does it leave any unsightly discoloration?

Recently Chris Stewart was cut from the squad. I seem to remember campaigning for him amongst friends last season, only to be baffled once again by his inability to make it through a training camp. Stewart is in his early 20's so there is still hope, but really, shouldn't a guy chosen in the first round have enough talent to at least scrape his way onto the 4th line?

Joe is a year older.
Hejduk is always sore.
Svatos is half robot.
Wolski is well...Wolski.

This is why every time I try and talk about the Avalanche I end up disgusted and wanting to walk down the street slapping people like Bernie Mac in "Head of State"! I don't want another season of hoping Ryan Smyth can knock out 55 games.

Maybe T.J. Hensick will rise up and stun hockey...and maybe he'll find a way to eat himself heavier than 93 pounds...

There are rebuilding years, which happen out of nowhere because of bad circumstances. There are rebuilding years which are somewhat predictable because change is necessary.

And then there are the Avalanche this and last season, who were and will seem to be the only team simultaneously rebuilding while trying to win the Cup. It is an ambitious, bipolar policy which will continue even after Peter Forsberg laces 'em up around mid-December, gets injured in practice, and kills 4 million dollars in cap room while nailing down 17 games on the season.

For me that doesn't promise much excitement at all...

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The new season is coming to a browser near you!

Read. Drink. Hockey.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Whither the DNP?

With the Stanley Cup finals now three games deep, and the Avalanche sporting what can only be some kind of Tony Granato clone as their new head coach (that’s a joke right?), more than a few people wondered aloud what the hell was going on with the DNP and its lack of coverage.

Many of you felt it was irresponsible of me to close up shop for the summer after the Avalanche were run out of the playoffs and yours truly was relocated from the refreshing isolation of Denver to the shockingly closer to the ocean, “Valley on the Sun”. I mean “Valley in the Sun”. I mean Phoenix. It’s hot here.

In the words of the once funny Steve Martin “Well excuuuuuuuse ME!”

But really, I can’t blame you. You THE READER make many a convincing argument. So before this becomes too long-winded, here’s a little bit o’ mailbag for the reading. I'll be back just as soon as I figure out why the tap water in Phoenix is never cold...hmmm.

“D’Albey, I said that you and the Avalanche sucked and I am right. You still don’t deserve a team in Denver.”


Oddly enough no Red Wings fan has been able to answer me one simple question involving something widely known outside of the Motor City as “logic”:

Since Detroit is known amongst Red Wings supporters as “Hockeytown” that should mean that the Red Wings have won the most Stanley Cups. Because in order to be proclaimed as the “Town of Hockey” one would think that only a place that has proven to be the best at hockey would be afforded the luxury of calling attention to the fact that it is the Zion of a particular sport.

So again, Detroit has won the most Stanley Cups, right?


“Since you now live in Phoenix you are going to become a Coyotes fan. I can feel it.”


Brad I swear to the Lord on high that I will not become a Yotes fan. If I’m a fan of anything or anyone out here it is Daniel Carcillo. Who by many accounts is planning on halving his penalty minutes next season, which is pretty much the lamest thing I’ve read since Section P of yesterday’s Arizona Republic was dedicated in its entirety to the upcoming Sex and the City movie.

2 1/2 hours of women in their 40’s who can’t stop whining? That's Sextacular!

“Tony Granato is the new coach of the Avalanche and you didn’t write a DNP the instant this information was made public? What the hell?!”

Northglenn, CO

I’m not going to admit that I dropped the ball on this one even if I probably did drop the ball. The thing is that I wasn’t shocked by the decision and I’m still not shocked by the decision. I was so un-shocked that I didn’t even care to write about it.

What I did find shocking was how nearly every Denver columnist and blogger went overboard in their negative reactions to Granato’s promotion. What because Pat Burns or some Detroit assistant coach were going to do the trick? Really?

I say give the guy a chance. I’m curious to see what Tony can do now that he has more experience. In his previous stint he was promoted after only 6 months as an assistant coach and his starting goalie was David Aebischer. What were we supposed to expect from him when his goalie was known in places as “Swiss Cheese”?

This time around if the team can stay healthy (which was THE problem this season) I can’t see Tony doing any worse than Joel Quenneville did…and by that I mean they could get swept out of the second round again.

Can the Avs maybe start scouting Swedish players this season? It’s just a thought.

“Tell me the Penguins will win the Cup! Russia already won at the World’s and I don’t think I could handle seeing another “Red Army” walking away with a title”

Arvada, CO.

I still think Detroit wins the Cup. They are just too good and they have home ice. Although things could change now that Holmstrom looks to be down and out, and the Pens are playing more physical.

It slays me that Evgeni Malkin is disappearing at exactly the wrong time. Nobody on Detroit can cover him but for some reason he doesn’t seem to realize that fact. He scores in droves if he just takes the puck, puts his head down, and starts smacking people.

The Pens should by all accounts win more than one Cup, but I just don’t know if this is their year. From the looks of things we are in for a long summer of dry, emotionless interviews involving players representing Detroit and Russia who can’t seem to be anything other than dry and emotionless.

Hooray for lame hockey!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Sweeps Week

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”
Colonel Bill Kilgore in Apocalypse Now

For any recent transplants living in Colorado who may be wondering what it is like to truly become a Denver sports fan, welcome to the fraternity.

And I thought the Broncos losing to the 49ers 55-10 in the Superbowl was embarrassing. Silly me. As it turns out the end of the worst week in Colorado sports history couldn’t have been more, well, sickly poetic?

This post-season of futility began with the Nuggets going down to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers without much of a fight, and ended with the Avalanche getting run out of their building by a team that nearly everyone living at altitude loves to hate.

Over the last year the Rockies, Nuggets and Avalanche have all been broomed from the playoffs in unceremonious fashion. Thanks for playing, guys.

To be a Denver sports fan one must realize a simple tenet: our teams lose important games more often than they win them…and much of the losing happens during times when our teams are thrust into the limelight by previous successes, which seem to be designed by Satan specifically to get our hopes up.

In a state where most people come to escape, there is no escaping an inferiority complex honed by years of "almost-getting-there-and-getting-blown-out-in-the-process."

Joe Sakic can’t go out like this, and something tells me he won’t. Even if our last memories of Peter Forsberg may be of him again kicking back in a lawn chair in Örnsköldsvik. It was nice having you tour with the band again, Pedro.

Fortunately the youngsters on the Avalanche now have experienced both the playoffs and massive playoff humiliation. With the right attitude this experience can become a tool for future success, as the Avalanche (barring a two-month long dip into their past) should continue to build in the right direction, a direction in which Jose Theodore is hopefully shown the door.

So let the construction on a new season begin! The future is still bright in Colorado, even if it may take some time for this most recent loss to fade into distant memory.

(Thanks to all who have read the page during the season. Barring a few comments and blurbs during the summer the DNP will return just in time for training camp, even if the recent economy is forcing its writer to relocate to Phoenix. Yes, Phoenix. No I’m not going to become a Yotes fan, even though a close proximity to The Great One and Daniel Carcillo should yield a number of high quality “desert hockey” jokes.)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

O Captain! My Captain!

There is a quote from the 1996 film “Basquiat” that I have never been able to remove from my mind. It emerges in a scene where Benicio Del Toro, playing Jean-Michel Basquiat’s friend Benny, is describing to the young artist the effort required to become famous.

To paraphrase, “to get recognized you have to paint the same way every day, even if you don’t want to…”

The message behind the statement reveals a sort of practical profundity. That simple repetition, rather than complicated measures will lead to success. When embellished it is nearly a treatise on the effectiveness of passive resistance.

In this world there seem to be two types of leaders. There are those in the mold of Mark Messier. Magnetic Churchill types branded at birth to lead through action and powerful vocal inspiration. More often than not these are the leaders who are trumpeted and placed upon pillars as examples to all of what can be achieved when one possesses a strong personality.

Then there are the quiet leaders; those modest personas that gain respect through steadfast example. They paint the same way every day, even if they don’t want to…

In a career that suddenly seems too short, Joe Sakic has achieved everything that a hockey player can achieve. He has accomplished every task with which he has been charged, and in exchange he has quietly demanded reciprocation from his compatriots.

Joe Sakic is the personification of leadership by example.

Tonight may very well be Joe’s last professional game. His body has shown the effects of what is most easily rationalized as “old age” in hockey. Nobody would blame him if he walked away at age 38, his final accomplishment being that of scoring nearly a point per game during the playoffs.

If tonight is the last time we see Joe Sakic on the ice, then let us relish the moment as an example of what any of us with our God given talents can achieve if we simply apply effort to knowledge.

All you have to do is paint the same way every day.

Even if you don’t want to…

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Guitar Hero

Sometimes life provides little distractions to redirect our minds from painful experiences. This time, facing an insurmountable deficit against the Red Wings the universe provided my house with a PS3 and Guitar Hero. Yes folks, the de-evolution of music hit soon after the Avalanche comeback fell short, and lasted until the wee hours of this morning.

The revolution will not be televised; it will be clicked into a miniature plastic guitar.

You’ll pardon me if my rockin’ prevents me from typing fast today. I think I may have carpal tunnel syndrome and a surprising respect for the works of Slayer.

Oh what to do…what to do about these Avalanche. The best team in the state can’t beat the best team from another country (Sweden).

This Red Wings dominance was not unexpected. They were the best team in the regular season, and they are the best team in the playoffs. Detroit never had a post-lockout swoon like the Avalanche did, and by the looks of it they may never have any kind of swoon any time soon.

Meanwhile the Avalanche are stuck in neutral.

In a series in which the Avs are hurt and penalized Detroit has made hockey look surprisingly easy. Analysts said that the European game would never play well on the small ice of North America…yet Team Sweden just keeps on rolling.

Does Detroit have a transfer agreement with Henrik Lundqvist set up for when the Rangers are finally eliminated?

At least T.J. Hensick got to play. The little engine that could…he needs to play more, and will.

I guess we can forget about re-igniting the rivalry. How unfortunate. Few events have drawn the common fan to hockey quite like a punch-up between the Wings and the Avs. These days the only punch-ups seem to come from the message board on Abel to Yzerman on Kukla’s Korner. That is the truly sad part. That two cities and states that despise one another won’t be going toe to toe on the front page of the ESPN’s of the world, relegated instead to idiotic faceless banter in the backwaters of the internet.

What to do…what to do…

At this point there is little to say about what the Avalanche are doing, and more about where they might be going. Is it possible for this mobile intensive care unit from Colorado to exit this series without losing even more of their future in the process? Can we just have that?

Oh for the days when this team was up and coming and the future was looking bright…and Paul Stastny still had both knees intact.

Maybe a sweep by the Red Wings might not be a bad thing after all. It would save the rest of us emotion that could be wasted elsewhere. Like impressing friends by ripping out “My Name is Jonas” on the plastic guitar:

“The building's not going as he planned.
The foreman has injured his hand.
The dozer will not clear a path.
The driver swears he learned his math.

The workers are going home…”

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thoughts on a Game Day

-Sometimes you have to chop things up in order to gain some perspective on your team’s standing. In my case, at least the Avalanche aren’t the Nuggets, (far from them actually) who were swept out of the playoffs by a beatable Lakers team in the first round.

And observers wonder why few people take the Nuggets seriously in Denver. You think Avs fans are fair weather, Detroit? HA! Just try living with a basketball team that has never even been in the NBA finals, despite featuring an owner who will spend at will to acquire talent and coaching for a team which features two of the top five scorers in the league.

The Nuggets may be the only team in history to have a fan base strictly composed of bandwagon fans…of their own creation of course.

-You ever get through a fantasy season in which there was a controversial trade only to discover in the playoffs, after the fantasy season is over, that the trade was actually quite fair? Let’s just say that my “fleecing” of Joe Thornton from one of my league’s rookies this season is looking like an actual win for the rookie.

Tell me what you think of a trade The Rook offered me that I accepted:

Joe Thornton (who at the time had potted all of four goals in the previous month and a half, was the 9th ranked center on yahoo, and is currently being dominated by the Dallas Stars)
Brad Boyes (who did lead the Blues in goals, only to basically do nothing after the trade until the final week of the season)


Marty Biron (who may make the conference finals)
Cory Stillman (who ended up on Ottawa’s top line before they were mercifully shot down by the Penguins in the first round)

I’m sure many of you will bust on me for fleecing a rookie, but in a season in which I fell literally ONE GOAL short of making the finals I’m sure Karma took care of what ever discrepancy existed from the trade. The lesson here is that it is of the utmost importance to fleece the rookies in your fantasy hockey league early and often, despite the objections other “protectionist” managers.

How else are the kids gonna learn?

-Speaking of Marty Biron, this caught my eye over at Dobber Hockey today:
“You know... I said this two years ago the moment the trade happened, but I would just like to say it again - If the Leafs were going to trade Tuukka Rask for a starting goaltender, they should have done it for Martin Biron not Andrew Raycroft. What were they thinking? It was no secret that Biron was available and the Sabres definitely would have jumped on the offer. Am I really that much superior in the pro scouting department as the entire Maple Leaf organization? Hmmm, I think I just answered my own question there.”

My reaction to this was to smack (in my mind) every dissenting manager in my fantasy league right in the baby maker for being so stupid. And yes I’m quite bitter.

-Finally, one of my hobbies is to go on to Red Wings fan sites and read the comments. I do this in local papers as well, because few things angry up the blood quite like an uninformed opinion.

An ongoing theme on Abel to Yzerman at Kukla’s Korner has been for Wings fans to make fun of the phrase “old time hockey” as it relates to the Avalanche. I actually owned an Avalanche shirt with this phrase on it at one point, and even I thought it was kind of silly, which is why I bought the shirt. If anything it proved to me that marketers will do anything if it means a sale. Like changing the home colors of the jerseys from white to dark. And yes, Bill Hicks is break dancing in his grave right now.

True, Colorado may not have as deep a professional hockey tradition as those cities that were granted an original six team, but here are a few facts and figures that should bring the Wingnuts back to earth a bit…as I flip through this month’s edition of Scientific American and wonder where this world would be if reading that mag were a required activity, instead of endless hours of Hannah Montana reruns…

Stanley Cup Championships
Red Wings- 10

The Wings were founded in 1926 and have existed for 82 years.
The Avalanche came to Colorado in 1995 and have existed for 13 years.

The Red Wings have averaged .12 Stanley Cups per year of existence.
The Avalanche have averaged .15 Stanley Cups per year of existence.

Major Relevant College Hockey teams (NCAA Titles)

University of Michigan (9)
Michigan State (2)
Michigan Tech (3)
Lake Superior State (3)
Northern Michigan (1)

University of Denver (7)
Colorado College (2)

Michigan NCAA titles-19 spread between 5 teams
Colorado NCAA titles- 9 spread between 2 teams

I’d like to point out that Colorado ranks #2 behind Michigan in total NCAA hockey titles, besting other “hockey states” like Massachusetts, Maine, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. In fact, DU (tied with North Dakota) is second only to Michigan in total titles (9 to 7), and was the last college to win back-to-back championships.

So tell me again how Colorado is lacking a hockey tradition, Wingnuts. If anything information like this should make the rivalry run deeper.

I’ve got the Avs squeaking out a close one tonight, assuming the Wings are allowed entry into the Can from DIA. I expect the “barn” to be noisy and raucous…and to my peeps in the upper deck, try not to literally kill anyone wearing red.

We are Americans after all…

For my next act I'll attempt to pinpoint exactly why Coloradans hate the color red beginning with the inbred Nebraska Cornhuskers and ending with the arrogantly stupid Boston Red Sox.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Fixing the Avlalanche

Over the last couple of days I’ve had a number of friends confront me with their distress and disdain over the condition of the Avalanche. Mostly everyone is in shock, and angry about the 2-0 series deficit. Here are some theories on how to fix the Avs on the first day after what may have been the worst weekend in Colorado sports history.

By my estimation Jose Theodore is sick. And I don’t mean “wicked” or “badass” I mean the man seems like he has some kind of bubonic flu at this point. I’ve played with the flu before and I’ve got to tell you, no position in any sport is more difficult to play while battling headaches, nausea, muscle stiffness and the inherent lack of timing brought on by massive amounts of NyQuil.

The question here is whether or not Joel Quenneville starts Peter Budaj in Theo’s spot for game three. For all intents and purposes Budaj has played the Wings well, and not allowed any crap to go into the net that hasn’t come off the stick of Johan Franzen.

If I were a betting man I would expect to see Theo back in net. If he struggles early he’ll get pulled. In this case “struggling early” should constitute anything in the area of pre-game sweating, a ghost-white complexion, glassy eyes or the potential presence of one Paris Hilton.

Because seriously, nothing on Earth sucks quite as bad as having to strap on damp, disease ridden pads while trying not to puke.

(Side note here: if Theo is as sick as I think he is, then half the team is sick at this point. Disease in a hockey locker room has a tendency to spread like wildfire, considering almost nothing in a locker room ever seems to dry out, and pretty much smells like a dumpster.)

On the other end of things, Peter Forsberg must play. Period. For the Avalanche to have any shot at a comeback they have to take pressure off of the top line and drop Ryan Smyth back into position on the third line, where his presence has fueled the likes of Tyler Arnason and Ben Guite.

I for one was tired of Forsberg’s constant injuries during his first run with the Avalanche. This time around his bad groin is making my groin hurt and I’d like it to end. Enough is enough Peter. Suck. It. Up.

Lastly, the Avalanche checkers need to do something more than kick the puck to Detroit forwards in their own end. Players like Guite and Ian Laperriere need to play without regard for their own safety. The Avs were able to succeed against the Wild because they took the body. Maybe the time has come when they must devolve into a trapping team. I hate that I just wrote that, but as long as the top teams in the West continue to cling to the notion of trapping hockey, then the Avalanche must adapt and attack.

The bottom line is that there is very little hope for the Avalanche in this series. Detroit is the deeper team that has stuck to its program of puck possession hockey all season. Add in the above par play of Chris Osgood and the Wings are a strong team that is staring at the potential for dominance.

Even still, this doesn’t mean the only existing team of relevance in Colorado sports can’t put up a fight. And on the edge of defeat, at least battle hard until the end.

If anything it would be nice to see the Avs come back and put a lid on obnoxious Wings fans, who really seem to have nothing better to do in their lives outside of posting insanity-laced comments on Red Wings blogs.

Maybe some day I too can turn into an alcoholic, semi-employed, uneducated, 1985 Buick Skylark driving, Merit smoking pipe fitter, who is more than willing to educate anyone who will listen on weekday evenings about the worlds of hockey and workman's compensation whilst sitting shirtless atop a lawn chair set up in my buddy's garage...yay Upper Midwest!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


As George Costanza once said "I am speechless. I have no speech."

I leave town for a couple of days to get a new job and come back to this? Really?

I’m not even sure how to logically respond to today’s thrashing of the Avalanche by the Red Wings. Going into the series I felt that for the Avs to have a shot against the Wings they needed to play near-perfect hockey. They needed to hit, score early and play defense. Pretty simple really, but beginning with Peter Forsberg’s groin injury before game 1, Scott Hannan taking a slapper off of his instep during game 1, and Jose Theodore apparently coming down with the kind of mystery illness that prevents him from stopping anything that is thrown at the net, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the red hot Wings sweep the Avs out of the playoffs.

All of a sudden the Avalanche are undermanned, playing undisciplined hockey, and coming apart at the seams.

If I had any hope going into the playoffs it was that this edition of the Avalanche, who I felt had very little chance of actually winning the Cup this season, would at least manage to fight hard, keep games tight, and in the event of elimination, at very least not embarrass Colorado hockey fans.

Well we can throw that out the window!

I have no idea what it is going to take for the Avalanche to get back into this series. At this point I’m just hoping there will be more white showing up in the crowd at the Can on Tuesday than red. Yet not even that seems to be feasible at this point.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Analysis of the First Round

The first round, which featured two game-seven’s on the same night, is finished with yours truly in pretty darn good standing compared to some of the “experts” from major websites (I missed only two picks out of eight). Let us go down the list so that I can both gloat and chide myself on my picks. I’ve inserted my predictions from last round to act as a reference, and in my next article I will follow with my picks for the next round.


-Detroit vs Nashville
Detroit is Detroit and we hate them because they are Detroit. Even still, they are good and should cut through a soft Nashville team like (insert any scary 2008 skate related injury joke here)

Red Wings in 5

As it turns out I picked the winner here, but Nashville gave the Wings all they could handle…and Thomas Vokoun doesn’t even play for the Predators anymore! This is good news for the Avs, as they needed the Preds to beat up the Wings a bit. The shocker from this matchup came in the form of a brewing Detroit goalie controversy. Oh for the love of a goalie battle that doesn’t involve Peter Budaj for once!

San Jose vs Calgary
With the wildly overdue for a title Joe Thornton at the helm, towards the end of the season SJ looked like the team to beat in the West. Calgary has some punch because their coach is an old insane guy named "Iron" Mike Keenan. Jarome Iginla, who is the captain of the Flames WILL get into at least one fight in what will be a tighter series than expected. Fun should be had by all. There will be balloons for the kids.

Sharks in 6

Unfortunately Iginla didn’t get into a fight, bummer. But Mike Keenan started plenty of trouble with Flames fans after he pulled Miikka Kiprusoff half way into game seven. Most Sharks fans, as it turned out, don’t have much confidence in their team, even though they finally woke up and put Calgary down in the end.

My secret wish that a crazed and shirtless Keenan would be taken down in a hail of FBI tranquilizers after the series also failed to materialize. Double bummer.

Colorado vs Minnesota
Okay...what if you took two teams that almost played the same and put a healthy Peter Forsberg on one of them? That is how close this series will be. Forsberg has scored 11 points in his last 4 games and is once again THE GUY in Colorado. Avs pull the upset in this one because they have a better offense.

Avs in 7

My how things changed in a week! The player of the series turned out to be the much-maligned Jose Theodore, who has been playing stellar hockey since January. If it wasn’t for the good work of Theo (his 3-2, 40 save victory in game 5 was the stuff of legends) I believe the Avs, who were out-skated all series by a younger, faster Minnesota squad, would have lost. Leaving the rest of Colorado to act like they actually enjoy watching the Rockies and the perpetually underachieving Nuggets. As always, thank God for hockey!

Side note here: should you ever land 5th row tickets to a playoff game, bear in mind that there will be people who will show up to the Can some time during the 2nd period in suits and gowns and make it their mission to glare at you every time you yell “Derrick Boogaard eats children!” Because really, there’s nothing quite like pricing most of the die hard fans out of the lower bowl, and then turning it into a country club where showing passion for your team is borderline illegal…and some folks wonder why I hate rich people…

Anaheim vs Dallas
Last year's champion, the former Mighty Ducks of Anaheim will try to beat down a solid divisional foe in this round. Dallas is slumping and the Ducks play defense. Simple as that. Look for Ducks goalie, J.S. Giguere to find a way to cheat and wear even bigger pads during the playoffs, as he really isn't very good.

Ducks in 6

Boy did I ever miss the boat on this pick! Fortunately the rest of hockey did as well. It turns out the Ducks used up all their street fighting tokens during their Cup run last year. This season their thuggery was finally deemed unacceptable, and Dallas was able to take advantage of an almost constant parade of Ducks to the penalty box. The only prediction I did get right from this matchup was that Anaheim goalie J.S. Giguere wasn’t very good. But that is more fact than theory.


Montreal vs Boston
Surprisingly these two teams did much better than expected this season. Boston was banged up since the first month and Montreal was mostly crappy. Yet both teams found quality play from unexpected sources and here we are, an Original Six matchup! Good times. Look for Montreal's strong second half play to continue in front of wunderkind goalie Carey Price and the resurgent Alex Kovalev.

Les Habitants in 5

This matchup ended up going the distance, as Boston discovered their will to win after they were on the edge of elimination, pushing the series to seven. This battle eventually led to a renewal of Montreal and Boston hostility, which poured onto the streets after games. In a classic display of angst-ridden Québécois virility a number of ornery Montreal youths overturned and burned police cars after the Habs secured game seven.

I’m supposed to write something here about how this is yet another sign of the fall of Western civilization, but really I was inspired by such a grand display of drunken and disorderly conduct after a FIRST ROUND contest. I’m not only a Habs bandwagon fan now; I’m almost demanding they win the Cup! If that were to happen I suspect the province of Quebec will burn throughout the summer, until the flames are doused by the snows of November.

Pittsburgh vs Ottawa
Ottawa, last season's Eastern Conference representative in the Cup final has been a mess since their back up goalie Ray emery flipped out and got their coach canned sometime around midseason. I would give you an exact date except I'm still laughing. Yet because the East is the weaker conference they have managed to hang in long enough that they should be soundly thrashed by the Pens in the first round.

Thanks for playing.

Penguins in 5

The Pens swept this series, and in a hilarious shift of loyalty many Senators fans are actually cheering for their team to be dismantled after the playoffs. I don’t even have a joke here. Some people in Ottawa are literally demanding that the team be disbanded! Can, um, the Avs have Dany Heatley if that happens? Please?

Washington vs Philadelphia
Alexander Ovechkin has been the best player in hockey this season, potting 65 goals, which is good. Yet aside from a couple other good up and coming players, and the addition of a starting goalie (Cristobal Huet) at the trade deadline in February they probably don't have a talent to win the conference.

Philly on the other hand is young, has star players (Daniel Briere, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter) and has no clue how to play defense...but they can beat people up! That's good...right?

This matchup gives me a headache.

Capitals in 6

The Capitals ended up losing to Philly in seven games despite the efforts of Ovechkin and up and comer Nicklas Backstrom. I’m kind of sad about this because we won’t get to see Alexander the Great will his team to more victories against disorganized clubs like Philly. I guess the only thing I can take from this is that there is still the potential for Philly defenseman Derian Hatcher to become the first hockey player to shed his boots during play and actually walk down the ice faster than he skates…dragging his mongoloid knuckles the whole way…I’m still not clear if he actually plays with a stick and he’s been playing for 15 years!

NY Rangers vs New Jersey
This is another rivalry matchup featuring some of the best players to ever play like Jaromir Jagr of the Rangers and Martin Brodeur of the Devils. The games will be intense and a few players may get their feelings hurt. Make sure your kids watch this matchup so they will know how to properly fight come high school. The Devils are slumping and the Rangers are heating up, so this will definitely be a close one.

Rangers in 7

Long story short: Pestilent Rangers moron Shawn Avery used to date actress Elisha Cuthbert, who is so bad at her profession that I couldn’t prevent myself from yelling at the television every time the first season of “24” came on. While she and Avery were dating, actually decided to give her a blog on their website for a full season.

She made it four postings, and none of the posts was anywhere near readable, grammatically correct, or at all intelligent.

During this time it finally dawned on me that not only was America accepting idiocy as its modicum for success, citizens were demanding it!

Fast forward to troglodyte Shawn Avery against the Devils and his need to faceguard goalie and future Hall of Famer, Martin Brodeur. It was a tactic so classless and disrespectful that the NHL was forced to change its rules during the playoffs.

I’m not sure why Avery and Cuthbert aren’t dating anymore. They would have set a new standard for wealthy idiots everywhere, and possibly spawned a new generation of gas station register jockeys and adult film stars for all to behold.

The abstract lesson here is that no matter what, I hate the Rangers.

Breaking Down the Red Wings

I can’t help but get excited every time the Avalanche plays the Red Wings. Not just because the two teams involved have essentially owned hockey over the past decade, but that each time they have met the games have become a display of the best the game has to offer.

During decade-plus battle for Western Conference domination both teams have featured legendary talent the likes of whom measure up to any of the great teams of the past. Players like Sakic, Yzerman, Forsberg, Shanahan, Bourque, Coffey, Roy, Lidstrom, Foote, Chelios and many others.

This time around I am curious to see how the typically stout Red Wings adjust to handle an Avalanche team that they did not actually see during their regular season sweep of four games.

With the additions of Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote, and Ruslan Salei at the trade deadline, the Avalanche not only shored up a questionable defense, they brought back icons from the past. Add in the healthy Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth and Paul Stastny, and the Avs have most definitely improved since their last meeting with the Wings in December.

Normally when it comes to breaking down a matchup I like to look at how one team counters the other team’s strengths while taking advantage of their weaknesses. In this matchup Detroit has weaknesses on which an underrated Avalanche squad must focus in order to come out ahead: physicality, goaltending and third line play.


After the December 27th loss, which was a physical battle, I noticed that when the Avalanche hit, the Red Wings ceased to function efficiently.

As it turns out, Nick Lidstrom is the lynchpin of the Detroit Red Wings. Whether this is Mike Babcock’s coaching strategy remains unclear, but traditionally when Lidstrom faces contact he plays passively, and by playing passively the Red Wing’s puck possession game is not as effective. Conversely, when Lidstrom is left to roam the Wing's usually meet with success.

Is this a coincidence?

Take for example the Wing's late-February swoon, which coincided with a Lidstrom injury. Lidstrom was out, and Detroit struggled to the point where it took a late season winning streak for them to secure the Presidents Trophy. More acutely, their goaltending struggled immensely during this period.

In the years of Detroit-Avalanche battles perhaps no single player has held such importance. To have a shot at success the Avs must take the body with Nick Lidstrom.


The Red Wings picked the wrong time of year to run into a goaltending controversy. Between the perpetually underachieving Chris Osgood and the showing-his-age Dominik Hasek, the Red Wing’s goaltending struggled at times against a vastly inferior Nashville team in the first round. What originally looked like an easy Detroit win instead turned into a battle of attrition due to periods of borderline incompetence between the pipes.

This season I felt the Red Wings goaltending was overrated simply because their superior defense kept the number of shots on goal down. Often in the Western Conference, goaltenders on great defensive teams benefit from inflated numbers because of the conference-wide insistence on playing the trap, and in this area the Wing’s goalies were no exception.

Should the Avlalanche somehow manage to keep the game low in the Detroit end for extended periods, I believe they will see a number of scoring opportunities against goaltenders who are not used to seeing an elevated number of shots, and become uncomfortable when placed under siege.

On the flip side, during the Avalanche series against the Wild, Jose Theodore saw less than 25 shots only once, as the Avs were out-skated by a younger, faster team. In fact, in every other game Theo saw over thirty shots, capping out at 40 during a legendary game five performance, when he stole the series from the Wild.

For the Avalanche to succeed they must master the difficult task of keeping the number of shots down in their own end, Theodore must continue his stellar play, and the offense must test the Detroit goaltenders early and often.

Third Line Play

Going into the playoffs it looked as if a healthy Ryan Smyth would regain his spot on one of the top two lines. Yet in a move that was mysterious to most Avalanche fans, Smyth was retained on the third line with David Jones. As it turns out this move by Joel Quenneville was brilliant, as it allowed the Avalanche to roll a gritty yet skilled “grind” line. By the end of the Wild series it was Smyth, not Sakic or Forsberg who came away with the winner in the final game.

It is well known that for a team to win in the playoffs it must be able to roll at minimum two solid production lines while gaining an advantage at the bottom end of the roster.

In what should be a tight checking, low-scoring series the third line is where the Avs have a clear advantage. The first two Avalanche lines will see the brunt of the Detroit defense. So the third line should be able to chip in while the likes of Lidstrom and Rafalaski are taking a breather on the bench. In the playoffs there is never a shortage of irony, coincidence, or lucky bounces, and any Avalanche success may rest on the shoulders of David Jones and Captain Canada.

Ultimately for the Avalanche to win against a talented and confident Detroit squad it must play hard, sacrifice and get a little lucky. The level of play in the second round is elevated, and Detroit series’ especially are long, brutal affairs that are won with the help of huge swings in momentum.

If the Avalanche can use Detroit's unfamiliarity with the current composition of the Avs against them they should gain a slight advantage. And hopefully this time around the Avalanche will be able to needle Detroit's weaknesses, and along with their underrated stature gain the upper hand on the Red Wings.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Making Something out of Nothing

"I am taking break after the Wild series." I told myself this. Many times. It is difficult to write about hockey while doing 100 other things at the same time and keep it interesting. I was exhausted. Literally I was at the point of considering hitting my knee with a ball peen hammer just to check my toughness.

My favorite pre-lockout Avs commercials used to state "the more hockey you watch, the tougher you get". They would feature bits involving a guy slowly pulling out his nose hairs, or getting nailed by a car door as he rolled by on a moped. They were possibly the best spots-related commericals I have ever seen.

You know the kinds of commercials that are actually good and you kind of miss them when they go away. Those were them.

I needed to shape up.

Before the playoffs I had managed to pare down the number of times I wrote to three times a week, and YOU my readers seemed to be falling into step. We had a good rhythm going. Then the playoffs started and the Avalanche came together to beat the Wild in what was the most captivating series of the first round, and I started writing every day.(I still cannot put words to how well Jose Theodore played. Literally, that was the greatest series I've ever seen from a Colorado goaltender. Roy had his moments, but the opposing teams were always afraid of him. In Theo's case, the Wild barely even respected the man!)

I've had a fun playoffs so far. I landed in the Can for two games. The first time I was five rows up with the upper class and the Avs lost. For game six I was pressed up against the top row in corner with the electricians and plumbers. Care to guess which game was more fun for me to attend?

Here's a note: The big mystery of whether or not the upper deck of the Can is up to code was finally solved at game six. Building code states that the tread of a step must be at it's absolute minimum 10-11 inches from the lip of the step to the rise of the next step, with most treads kept at eleven inches.

The treads on the upper deck? 8 inches at best.

Yes Avalanche fans, YOU the paying customer in the upper deck are sitting in an area that violates building code. I'm wondering how much Kroenke had to shell out to the city inspector to get that little oversight passed. Next time I'm bringing a harness and ropes, because one of these days I may end up as "that guy" who falls off the upper deck.

Anyways, I was enjoying the sunny day today after a weekend of playoff hockey success and hiking when I came across this little diddy by Bill Simmons at Ahhh sweet motivation.

I have ranted before about Bill and his unique ability to crap on hockey, and here we are again. How much you wanna bet the higher-ups at the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" thought that it would be neat if their star writer crapped out a hockey article, considering it is the playoffs and all...

Here's the thing, Simmon's leap onto the Bruins bandwagon was entirely predictable. Even people who don't pay any attention to hockey, i.e. Broncos and Rockies fans, find themselves incapable of ignoring playoff hockey. Simply, it is too irresistible to avoid the greatest tournament in sports.

It isn't like I'm blaming Simmons for jumping back into hockey writing, and assuredly he'll go back to crapping on hockey as soon at the Bruins are eliminated. But what I'm trying to reconcile is my normally acute dislike of bandwagon sports fans in general.

Sure, we all have lives. But really, nothing stinks worse than when your team is doing well and suddenly everyone turns into an expert. It was this notion that drove me to know everything about hockey all the time. I didn't want to be one of "those guys". You know, one of those people who still talk about the Chris Drury trade, even though that was SEVEN YEARS AGO, but couldn't name a single player on the current Avs third line?

In my opinion bandwagoneers eat up tickets and screw over the die hards who are practically owed seats at important sporting events.

The worst instance of bandwagon-like behavior was when the Rockies went to the World Series. I've never seen anything come close. The Rockies stunk for years because of terrible ownership, and might not see the Series again until the Monfort brothers die off. But last October it was like the entire state came together and said "screw it".

I watched. I got excited. I turned down World Series tickets.

Yep. I turned down World Series game tickets. Why? I'm not really a Rockies fan. I felt my ticket should go to someone who managed to watch more than 10 games all season.
Sorry gang, I have respect for the dedicated. And besides, I grew up a Twins fan and never changed my affiliation.

This is why Simmons' article and how he mentions that hockey needs to attract casual fans ultimately rings cheap and lame, even after I consider his point of view.

Hockey is and will always be, a die hard sport. Same as baseball. You can't waltz into a concert during final song and act like you've been a fan of the band the whole time, and the same rings true for hockey.

Sure, Avs tickets are expensive. But as fans we are treated to possibly the greatest two-team television network in sports- Altitude. There is simply no excuse for anyone to start paying attention during the playoffs.

Maybe it is because I live in what is widely considered to be a "bandwagon state". Maybe outside of DU and CC hockey will never rival the popularity of the Broncos. But really, if you are a casual fan with a ticket, do me a favor this playoff season and pass it on to your "hockey friend". He or she will be more appreciative than you could ever know.

Especially during this playoffs, when a team that was left for dead by most of the state in January (hell, lets be realisitic: after the lockout) is finally coming together for a serious run.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dear State of Minnesota

I know that this letter comes a bit early in the morning for you, as you are probably hungover after last night’s loss to the Avalanche. It’s okay, I’m a bit headachy too. Yelling from the top row of the Pepsi Center will do that. So please accept my apologies if I’m coming across as a bit crass at this early hour.

I understand that you felt that this year’s version of the Wild were the team that would go deep into the playoffs. Everyone up north seemed so excited! There was Gabby setting a team record for goals and points. Nick Backstrom and the defense were rock solid. And the team finally had enough muscle to beat up the more physical teams in the league.

I’ll tell you what. It was certainly one of the more physical series’ I’ve seen in a long time, and today I’m sure everyone on both teams is pretty sore. Especially Jose Theodore who once again saw a ton of shots. I bet you are pretty angry at Jose today, huh? I mean, where did he come from? He was supposed to be crappy.

I’m not sure if I can totally answer that question myself. I guess sometimes, some players turn it on for the playoffs. For example, Jose Theodore and Joe Sakic- on. Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra-off. It’s got to be frustrating when your star players get shut down by what you and many others felt was an inferior Avalanche hockey team. I mean come on, right!

I’m sure you are saying to yourself things like “the people of Colorado don’t deserve this!” and “Seriously. They don’t! Most of them are fair weather fans, with the only people who really pay attention coming in the form of insane University of Denver students!”

I get it. I know. You have a tough time with winning at sports. The Vikings have lost four Superbowls. Carl Polhad is the anti-Christ. Kevin McHale is an idiot and couldn’t build a team around Kevin Garnett. And now the Wild can’t even beat an old, lesser conditioned team from Colorado in the first round. I swear, I feel your pain. Outside of Philadelphia I’m not sure if there is a place that has a worse time winning at sports.

At least the summer softball leagues are starting up soon…right?

And there are many festivals to look forward too once the weather gets warmer.

Shoot, you even have the Republican convention this year…even though I’m pretty sure there are only about seven people there who are actually Republican. It’s unusual, I know. I think the Republicans might be trying to send some kind of message like they support the American working man or something. It’s pretty silly. I know. I’m just trying to make jokes to make you feel better.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t get too down. There are always things to look forward to, even after the Wild lost a great series to the Avs 4-2. For example, you could always look at moving to Colorado. Many of your people have already done that and for the most part I’ve found them to be pleasant and witty, and they seem to like it here too. It’s something to think about. I have some friends you can stay with to make the transition easier. They are from somewhere around Edina. Nice folks.

Other than that, just try and keep your head up and realize that there is always next year. And while you’re at it, you might want to look at making a coaching change for the Wild. Jacques Lemaire seems nice and all, but he just doesn’t coach the type of game that will win the State of Hockey it’s first Stanley Cup.

Again, it’s something to think about.

Hang in there buddy!

The State of Colorado