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Will Denver ever love the Avs again?

Oct 18, 2011, 5:27 PM EST

TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 17: Gabriel Landeskog #92 of the Colorado Avalanche skates with the puck past a checking Matt Frattin #39 of the Toronto Maple Leafs in a game on October 17, 2011 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. The Avalanche defeated the Leafs 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

A quick visit to the Denver Post’s website and it’s clear what the Colorado Avalanche is up against. There, above a huge picture of a football player that’s done nothing in the NFL, sits the headline: “An insider’s take on Tim Tebow.”

Tucked underneath the giant image is the story about the Avalanche’s 3-2 OT win over the Maple Leafs last night in Toronto. The win was Colorado’s fifth straight road victory. The Avs (5-1-0) are the only team in the NHL with 10 points. First place in the league. Prior to the start of the season, many had them pegged for last. Pretty remarkable, even if it’s still early.

To be fair, Tebow is big news across the country, not just in Denver. The former Heisman winner will start at quarterback for the Broncos on Sunday in Miami. Suffice to say Tebow will be the only reason to watch that game. Well, that and gambling. The point is, the Broncos are terrible. (Thus, the Tebow start.)

It’s a tough time to be a sports fan in Denver. It’s not just the Broncos. The Rockies were bad. The University of Colorado football team stinks. The Nuggets were decent, but now they’re locked out.

So, is now the time for the Avs to get back into the city’s spotlight?

It’s been a while since the NHL got much attention in Denver. Remember the Avs’ famous sellout streak (487 games) that began in the first year of their existence after the franchise moved from Quebec City in 1995? Yeah, that streak ended five years ago. Colorado finished 24th in league attendance in 2010-11, drawing just 14,820 per game in the 18,007-seat Pepsi Center.

If you’d like to watch the Avs host the Oilers next Friday, you can get four tickets, four family meals and four Pepsis, all for $99.

Yep, Colorado is one of those markets now.

It’s not like the Avs are the Blue Jackets or the Panthers either. Columbus has made the playoffs once in franchise history. Florida hasn’t qualified for the postseason since 2000. You’d excuse those markets for their apathy. But Colorado? The Avs have won two Stanley Cups since 1996 and missed the playoffs just three times. Only twice have they finished the regular season with a losing record.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s exactly why the fans have stayed away in recent years. They got spoiled. Joe Sakic. Peter Forsberg. Patrick Roy. Rob Blake. Ray Bourque. Claude Lemieux. All played and won Cups in Colorado. All are Hall of Famers. Those are some tough shoes to fill.

The 2011-12 Avs will eventually come back down to earth. (Just ask Halford.) They might make the playoffs like they managed two years ago, but they’re still a long ways from contending for the Cup again.

Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see if Denver sports fans take notice of the young, exciting hockey team that’s playing for cheap at the Pepsi Center. Because once Tebow proves once and for all he’s not an NFL quarterback, that hockey team will be all they’ve got.

  1. kyleortonsarm - Oct 18, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    I’ll answer your question with a question. Will they ever stop sucking ass by the end of the season and actually win another title?

  2. Tapeleg - Oct 18, 2011 at 6:23 PM

    It seems like I’ve been defending the Avalanche fan base from this exact blog post for the past five years. If I were a meaner person, I would call this post ‘hack.’ It’s territory that has been explored before, we get it. In the interest of helping you guys out, here is some other points you may or may not know (or care) about.

    – The Avs marketing department has been on vacation since the lockout. The effort to promote the team around town has been abysmal, with most of the advertising going towards their own cable sports channel. They are basically marketing towards the fans that are already watching the team.

    – In fact, the most public thing the Avalanche have done in recent years was the creation of Bernie, the mascot. Knock me over with a feather.

    – This has always been, and always will be, Broncos country. The Broncos recently brought long time favorite quarterback John Elway into the management fold, much like the Avalanche brought Joe Sakic into their front office. The major difference is that John Elway is then allowed to talk to the media and the fans. The Avalanche are famous for hiding from the media. For every talk about there being a face of the franchise, we never see it.

    – Speaking of media, before the lockout, Denver was a two newspaper town (managed by one company, and run out of the same building, but I digress). Now, Denver has one paper, and one beat writer. That’s it. Really. The Avalanche doesn’t acknowledge the blogs, so we have one real source of information, and the relationship between the Avs and the Denver Post is contentious at times.

    – Sports radio here talks about the Broncos most of the time. They know what side their bread is buttered on.

    – There has been one home game this season. ONE. Where the Avs got pounded by the Red Wings. Let’s give it a little time, OK?

    While I can’t argue with the idea of the fan base being previously spoiled, there are other reasons they have stayed away from the rink over the last few years. The fans here love the team just fine, even as the team has turned it’s back on the fans.

    The title of your post would be more accurate if it were “Will the Denver media ever love the Avs again?”

    • georgeinlimbo - Oct 18, 2011 at 8:03 PM

      I can speak for the horrible marketing. Nothing other than the family deals and guys night out tickets to draw people in. There is an lousy arena experience and their advertising is cheesy. But when they win, the fans will be back.

      There was good attendance for the opening games and the playoffs, too.

    • trbowman - Oct 18, 2011 at 9:04 PM

      “If I were a meaner person, I would call this post ‘hack”

      I’m not necessarily disagreeing but you just essentially called it that, lol.

      • Tapeleg - Oct 18, 2011 at 10:29 PM

        Yeah, pretty much.

    • macintoshw - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:27 AM

      For a state with at least 2 solid college hockey programs, I would think the Avs would have a more deeply rooted fan base. Sad to see them rank in the bottom 5-6 in attendance for the last 3-4 years.

    • Will - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:01 AM

      I totally agree that Denver media pretty much hates hockey, they’d rather rant on and on about basketball, and with the lockout you’d think that would allow them to cover more hockey, not happening yet. The Broncos are a force of Nature here, so no other sport will ever compete with them for coverage in Denver. Look at when we got Roy, there was actually more coverage of Elway talking about Patrick than of Roy himself.

      I’ve been going to local college, semi-pro, and pro hockey games for the past 30+ years, and the attendance here is in direct relation to the media coverage.

  3. trigzter - Oct 18, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    99 dollars for 4 tickets though? I can’t get a plain ticket for less than 65

  4. bigbear42 - Oct 18, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    “the Avalanche’s 6-5 OT win over the Maple Leafs”

    The game ended 3-2. I know because I watched it on tv.

    • Jason Brough - Oct 18, 2011 at 7:18 PM

      Thanks. Fixed.

  5. georgeinlimbo - Oct 18, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    I’m an Avs fan and I do not think the Avalanche will win the President’s Trophy this year. However, I think they’ll make the playoffs.

    What Bough didn’t mention is that Duchene still hasn’t started heating up yet. His play in his own zone has shown a lot of improvement and he still looks quick and creative when he is in the attacking zone. It is only a matter of time before he starts putting up more serious points.

    Also, Jones has already proven he can remain healthy and has been a consistent force, even after the collapse last year. If anything, the health of Peter Mueller is more concerning. The Avalanche have one of the best third lines in the league in the first six games with Landeskog/O’Reilly/Winnik setting the tone for the rest of the team.

    Kyle Quincey is highly underrated and Ryan O’Byrne has proven dependable, even though he takes the occasional penalty. Hejda is solid and Wilson is a serious NHLer. The team has meshed well with a mean O’Brien. Plus, they are big. Quincey and Johnson can both put up some offensive numbers.

    This team won’t contend, but are bound to surprise some fans and win others back. They are still on the tail end of a rebuild, but the true identity of this team is emerging. They are realizing their going to be mean and hard to play against in their own end, and fast and energetic at the other end. Bough, you are going to eat your words.

    • georgeinlimbo - Oct 18, 2011 at 8:06 PM

      ***Brough

      my bad.

  6. babar61 - Oct 18, 2011 at 11:15 PM

    After Tebow chokes it up on Sunday maybe they will get more attention…

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