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.


Anonymous said...

Must have been Ascent that paid the bribe because Kroenke didn't buy the building until late 2000.

Aaron D'Albey said...

Very true, I missed that one...

In the end neither Kroenke or Ascent actually paid for the building, even though Kroenke now owns it. Taxpayers in Colorado ultimately paid for the Can through tax breaks and incentives. In reality there is very little difference between "taxpayer funded" Invesco Field, and the Pepsi Center...aside from the fact that funding for Invesco was actually put on the ballot...

Dario said...

The lower sections have been bad for a long time now. Immigration has basically priced out the die hards from that area. The price increase down there has been astronomical. I mean, before there were some rich cats down there but they were fans. You know, like that goofy old guy that always held up the ROY sign.

I'm curious how the Pepsi Center is going to look after the DNC is done with it. Kronke has given permission to the DNC to do major remodeling to the place for the convention. They are going to knock down suite walls and the whole nine yards. Who really believes that thing is going to be ready by September for the preseason?

I don't have too much of a problem with bandwagon fans per se. Now that the Avs have won their first round I got people at work coming to my office to talk about hockey because they know I'm the guy with the Arby's Avalanche glasses, banners and Chris Drury bobble-head. They have no idea in the world who David Jones is but they do know that Theodore is playing well. If their bandwagon jumping means the Avs earn some more TV dollars and in turn continues to leave the business decisions to FG then I thank them. Tickets aren't too hard to find if you want to go, they are just freaking expensive.

Aaron D'Albey said...

Sakes, those old Grizzly fans were the one's who made the lower bowl the place to be, not only in the Pepsi Center but at McNichol's as well! (I still miss that old barn...)

Ticket prices are definitely out of hand, especially since they didn't really dip after the lockout (if I remember they did something like a temporary 10% markdown, which was a joke) so I can't blame most people for not going, especially after the lockout when interest dropped.

(The going rate for a lower bowl ticket in Toronto is about $300!)

There are signs that the casual fans are starting to come back league-wide. And I think that not enough of a deal has been made out of the NHL's dominance of the internet. When I have a brother in Korea who is able to listen to live broadcasts over the web, that is a good thing. Most writers just seem to go off of tv ratings (Bill Simmons) and say that the game is dead.

Yet even with the progressive re-entry into the public conscious of the game, it still frustrates me when casual fans try to break out the knowledge during the playoffs.

I had a friend point out to me today that it is very difficult to follow the entire season, and how the same goes with baseball...I think that is acceptable, but still bandwagoneers never cease to frustrate me!

PS. David Jones is fast approaching "THE MAN" level of status. That guy can play with absolutely anyone!

I'm still trying to figure exactly when he came jumping out of the woodwork, but I'm almost angry at the Avs for not bringing him on to the team sooner!

Dario said...

Well, I've done some work for Hockey's Future in the past and those that follow prospects have known that Davey Jones had great potential. He impressed coaches out of camp but still didn't get the call up.

If you could critisize Q for anything this year it's is initial read of players and how they fit. Richardson has been missused from day one, Arnason still gets the kid gloves treatment. He's the softest player on the team and can go 20 games with no impact but he's never missed a game nor shifted off his 3rd line. But I guess it's all about how you finish, not how you start.

Every Stanley Cup winner seems to always have a rookie come out of nowhere to play a huge role or score a huge goal. Mike Rupp did it for the Devils in 2003, Shannon, Penner and Getzlaf for the Ducks last year, Claude Lemieux in '86 for the Canadians, and even Tangauy was an unproven talent that played a huge roll in the '01 cup when Forsberg went down.

Jones always wants to be first to the puck. None of this post lockout technique of avoiding a hit by letting the defense touch the puck first so you can try and steal the puck with no punishment (Hey Hejduk if a google search one day brings you to this sentence, rest assured this is not a how-to article). He's playing so well he's bound to play a factor, perhaps a big one.