With a new offer on the table from the NHL toward its locked-out players union there’s new optimism that there will be a full season of pro hockey in 2012. Here’s why that might not be such great news.
I’m what you might call a fair-weather hockey fan. Throw me under the Zamboni if you wish, but that’s the truth.
I have followed the fate of the Colorado Avalanche each season since they arrived her in the mid-1990’s but prior to that I had no interest in the sport at all. In that respect I feel like I am a pretty typical fan. There was some interest in the game in Denver before we got the NHL back, but this is a football town. Everybody knows it.
When the Avs came on the scene they started winning right away. They acquired Patrick Roy in time to bring Denver it’s first major Championship in their first year here. Colorado fell instantly in love with the new team in town. Pepsi Center was the place to be – and to be seen.
They kicked a ton off ass those first few years.
Then, in 2000, Ray Borque came to town. The Avalanche won their second Stanley Cup. Hockey fever swept the City yet again.
For the next few years the Avalanche remained a contender but accomplished little. Patrick Roy retired in 2003 and that was all she wrote. The team was not able to find an identity after that. Making matters worse was the NHL lockout of 2004-2005 when scores of fair weather fans like me simply wandered away.
Perhaps in more dyed-in-the-wool hockey cities that first lockout was less impactful. Here in Colorado, where the sport had burned so hot for those first couple years, labor strife and a missed season seemed to nearly snuff out interest. More casual fans never came back. Hardcore fans are fine with that, but it’s been a problem for owner Stan Kroenke.
The NHL having been locked out again has not been an issue for me – or for other fans with my level of interest. In fact, I would almost prefer that it not come back – at least not until after Christmas.
The Denver Cutthroats are the main reason. The new minor-league outfit excites me. I’m happy that they’ll be playing in the Coliseum and that ticket prices will be more in the range of reasonable. I was hopeful that the NHL’s foolishness would provide an enormous boost to the fledgling franchise as it began its first season. People who were used to attending Avalanche games might have found the Cutthroats more to their liking – maybe even surrendered their season seats at Pepsi Center. I was rooting for the little guy.
Now it sounds like the NHL will play a full season. That’s not good news for the Cutthroats.
It’s also not good news for me.
I will be compelled to watch. I am a Denver sports fan, after all. I almost feel like it’s my duty. Besides, once the season starts, if the Avalanche show any glimmer of progress, I know that I will jump back on the bandwagon. I always do.
It would have been nice if that wagon had just stayed in the barn. Life might be better without the NHL.
Peyton Manning is a Bronco. Andre Iguodala is a Nugget. There’s a lot to be excited about this winter – a lot to watch happen in Denver Sports. It would have been a good time to just forget about big league hockey for awhile.
You may be reading this and thinking “this guy is an idiot” – or “screw him” – or “he’s not a fan, who cares what he says?”. You may be right. Or I may be the kind of hockey fan that is far more common in Denver than the type you are. I would suggest that the latter is true – and that the NHL has its self to blame for that.
The league was willing to let labor strife put yet another season at risk and leave its fans without. Why should I be any more loyal to the league?