It’s the second round of the playoffs, and there are some newly disappointed fans who need to take the pain away / have a reason to live / keep on watching hockey. A few days back, I put out the invite for hockey fans to come along and root for the Colorado Avalanche for a while. We welcome all comers.
But it occurs to me that I left out part of that invite, the part that gives you compelling reasons to jump on the Avs bandwagon / gravy train / tricycle of love. Welcome to:
The Castoff Fan’s Guide to Temporarily Loving the Avalanche
There are no more likable players to get behind than the Colorado Avalanche players. It starts from the top down with Joe Sakic, the captain. Sakic’s nickname is Super Joe, which just makes you feel good about him, yourself, and everything around you. Super Joe. He’s Super. What more do you need to know? Well, every time someone says he has lost a step on his game, he turns around and proves them wrong. And he is clutch.
Peter Forsberg is back, and unlike his time in Philadelphia and Nashville, he is helping the team. He is known as Peter the Great. So far, we have a “super” and a “great.” This is getting fun, isn’t it?
Milan Hejduk (Hey-Duke) is up next. He won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy in 2003 with 50 goals. Mind you, that was when goalies were allowed to wear 8 foot by 6 foot blockers, and carry machine guns. That takes a pair. His nickname is The Duke. See, we now have royalty.
There are a few kids on the team, a likable scruffy bunch, such as Paul Stastny (his dad was a kick ass player in the day for the Nordiques), Wojtek Wolski (who’s name is pronounced with V sounds), Ben Guite (who has the worst facial hair, and should be staring in the Beastie Boys Sabotage video), and a few others who are not defensemen.
Speaking of defensemen, Adam Foote was accused of giving the Blue Jackets the finger when he left for what he believed to be the greener pastures of Colorado, but the stories have yet to be substantiated. As for those pastures, they a looking mighty green these days. Foote shut down Marion Gaborik in the first round, earning him the title of Most Useful Defenseman Ever. His nickname is Footer (how imaginative).
Brief notes on the rest of the defense:
Scott Hannan: figuring out how to skate backwards at altitude.
John-Michael Liles: Underrated, and not scoring as much from the blueline this year, but he was asked to work on his defensive game, and he has. Everyone thinks he should be traded, but I can never figure out why.
Kurt Sauer: Flip flops more than John Kerry. Good one game, a goat the next. Looks like Tyler Arnason with a chin and his mouth closed. At least with a helmet on.
Jeff Finger: On my $#!+ list right now, since he lost his brain when he lost his stick a few games back. I like the guy, but wouldn’t ask for directions from him… to the bench, that is (that makes sense in my head).
Jordan Leopold: Missed most of last season, and some of this one. Is making up for it now, which is good timing on his part.
Ruslan Salei: Former Ducks D-man when they lost it all to the Devils in 2003. He was traded from the Panthers to the Avs for Karlis Skrastins. This could be considered the most briliant move by a GM since… Ever!!! That may be taking things a bit far, but the man has made a huge difference to the team. I have no complaints.
Do you like tough guys? The Avs have two of the good ones. First is Ian Laperriere, aka Lappy. Lappy is a French-Canadian with a chip on his shoulder, and the desire to take it out on the opposition. He like to enforce “The Code” of the hockey tough guy, and is loved almost as much as Super Joe. His best moment was handing Dion Phaneuf his own ass in the last game of the 2006-07 season. It was glorious.
Scott Parker is the other tough guy on the team. Known as the Sheriff (who doesn’t like a sheriff on their side), Parker has been known to go a little overboard, but also knows when to be funny. Such as this. Isn’t that nice, giving a lucky fan a souvenir? Parker was an Avs before, and won a Cup with them in 2001. When he returned to the team, it was considered an infusion of heart and soul.
Cody McLeod likes to mix it up too, but that’s all I have about him right now. He has no front teeth.
Goalies? Sure, we have goalies. It was thought that Peter Budaj was going to be the number one goalie this season, after grabbing the job at the end of the last season, and standing on his head to keep the Avs in the playoff hunt right to the end. The only thing that could derail him this season was the resurgence of Jose Theodore. And guess what happened. Theodore is haveing the type of season that is being talked about in hushed tones. He is getting back to his former self, and stole a few games against the Wild. And who doesn’t like to see a guy who hadn’t earned his six million dollars finally step it up at the right time.
I don’t expect people who are just along for the ride to go out and buy an Avs jersey, but let me just say that you would look good in one. At least, one of the old ones. I don’t recommend the new RBK EDGE ones, if only for the over use of capital letters, although there are other reasons. The colors look good, go with most everything, and the logo is easy on the eyes. It even has a puck on it, so you can point to it when people ask you what you are wearing and scream, “It’s a hockey jersey! See? It has a puck!!” As an added bonus, the old style jerseys are less expensive than the new ones. If you can’t bring yourself to purchase one of these fine articles of clothing, look at the team us usually root for. There are probably a few former Avs kicking around. It seems like everyone has played for them in the short history of the franchise. Speaking of history…
Since you may be new to the team, this is one of the nice aspects of picking the Avs as your temporary favorite team. The Avs have only been around since the 1995-96 season, making it easy to keep most everything you really need to know accessible. Before that, they were the Quebec Nordiqies, who started their existence in the WHA, and were one of the four teams absorbed into the NHL in 1979. After that, they pretty much sucked, and talented forwards were betrayed by defense and goaltenders, at various times, sometimes at the same time. In 1995, the team was moved to Colorado, renamed, and became successful immediately. Thanks to the move, they became an easy trade partner with the Montreal Canadiens, and in the most lopsided trade since my money was traded for the “honor” of seeing Pearl Harbor. That movie sucked. The Canadiens gave up Patrick Roy, a goalie most people hated, but mostly because he didn’t play for their team. Ask now ,and they will deny that, but it’s so true, you can taste it. The Avalanche went on to win the Stanley Cup in their first year in Colorado, and the fan base was established. The Avs then won the Cup in 2001, and set the record for sellout games in a row. See? How easy was that?
Chants, Cheers and Fan Rituals:
There aren’t many. In fact, other than “Red Wings Suck,” I can’t think of any real fan rituals. But that can play to your advantage. If you come up with anything clever, just act like every other fan does it all the time, and you will seem like you are on the inside.
This is one of the great pieces of the puzzle. The timing for your jump to the Avalanche couldn’t be better. The main hated rival is the Detroit Red Wings. Going back to the playoffs in 1996, the Avs and the Wings have had a violent hatred of each other. Some of the names on the teams have changed (and some have not), but the fans know the scoop. With the return of Adam Foote and Peter Forsberg to the Avalanche, the rivalry looks at lot like the good old days. If you were to throw out a name or two from the “good old days” of the rivalry, you have a 50% chance they were there back in the day.
The other big rivalry is with the Vancouver Canucks. The main reason the Avs fans hate the Canucks is because of the sucker punch laid on Steve Moore by Todd Bertuzzi. It’s pretty well documented, so google it or something (if you have never heard of it, you may be new to hockey, and not developed a team to take on as your favorite forever, so may I suggest the Avalanche). The main reason Canucks fans dislike the Avalanche is because the Avs have had success, something the Canucks know only from brushing up against it. In 1994, the hopes and dreams of Canucks fans were crushed by the New York Rangers, and for the next year, the city of Vancouver slipped into a coma. When they awoke, this strange new team was in the league, and then won the Stanley Cup. This pissed of Canucks fans, and not much has changed since. This season, the Canucks did not make it to the playoffs, so they are not a factor. But there may be references to the Canucks from time to time, so now you know.
But the Avs are going to lose, right?:
Well, not so fast there. First off, you are a fan now, albiet for a short moment in time, so of course they are not going to lose. That being said, they may lose, but there are several things to remember about this Avs team.
- This was not the same Avs team the Wings faced in the regular season. With the Injuries to Sakic, Stastny, and Ryan Smyth, the Avs were severrly depleted up front. With the additions of Foote, Forsberg, and Salei, the team took on a whole new look and feel.
- The Wings have already shown weekness in the post season, having a harder time with the Nashville Predators than anyone would have predicted.
- The playoffs have not been as kind to the Wings in recent years as the regular season. Remember, the Presidents Trophy means little when compared to the Cup..
- That may be all.
But that may be enough. And hey, we’re all fans here, right? Right. Belief counts for something, and if you need some extra, there is plenty to go around.
Now that I am a fan, what do I do?:
Glad you asked. The following list are things you, as a fan of the Avalanche, can be doing, that help you be more like an Avalanche fan.
- Drink good beer, not that crappy beer. That is, if you drink beer. If not, drink something tasty and of good quality.
- Eat good food.
- Be happy about life in general. You are an Avs fan, and the world smiles upon you.
- Dismiss anything Red Wings fans say about hockey. This is more fun than it sounds. It is also technically not mean, since it is more honest than listening to mean spirited lies.
- Take the high road. I will be.
This is just a small list of things Avs fans do. If you need more, you can consult the Constitution of the United States, or the Bill of Rights. These are fine documents.
But that guy over there says I shouldn’t be an Avalanche fan:
Yeah? Screw him. Really. I’m sick of that guy. He keeps coming around, strutting his stuff, and acting the fool. Screw him. Hey! Buddy!!! Get off my lawn!!! There, see? He’s more afraid of you than you are of him.
Fun Facts about the Avalanche:
- The Avalanche are one of three NHL teams whose name does not end in an “S” The Minnesota Wild are one, and the Avs beat them in round one. The Tampa Bay Lightning are the other, and we don’t talk about them this season. Just look away.
- The Minnesota Wild scored the last goal on Patrick Roy of his career. This is their claim to fame. The goal scorer was Andrew Brunette, who felt so bad, he joined the Avs to help them win a Stanley Cup. He is considered one of the best bargins in the league.
- Denver is the Mile High City. It’s true.
- Avalanche fans have never rioted after a first round victory. That’s a fact.
- The Avalanche have a mascot. Really. Never seen him? Well, we’ll have to get him out here. I know he’s around here somewhere. Maybe behind this door..I’ll just take a look and OHMYGODNO!!! THE HORROR!!!!
- The foot on the shoulder of the Avs jersey is not there because of Adam Foote. Unfortunately, the only person who ever knew what it symbolized died in a freak murder accident. Tragic.
I don’t live in Colorado, but it sure sounds neat:
Yeah, it sure is. It sure is.
Well, that’s all you need to know for your temporary devotion to the Avalanche. There are other things you may find out along the way, but that’s all bonus material. Might I just say that you have made the right decision, and I think you are going to be a fine addition to the fan base. While there may be other teams out there, you have surfed through them deftly, and come out on top. Good job, you!!!!