Taking a cue from In the Cheap Seats, I thought it would be fun to post a how I became a fan. It all starts with the Denver Nuggets and Michael Jordan, yes the Denver Nuggets professional basketball team.
So I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and was born in 1980. For children my age growing up there were 2 choices for sports teams The Broncos and the Nuggets. Naturally, being a huge sports fan, I chose both. I went to Broncos games and Nuggets game and watched them fairly religiously (Broncos more so than Nuggets). Then In the 90's the Nuggets started to fade from my mind, and I became interested in Hockey. There was no pro team in Denver, so I decided to try and find one I liked. This consisted of buying NHL '95 and really not much more. But there were 2 teams I liked, the Buffalo Sabres and the Quebec Nordiques (Yes the Nordiques, I am weird ok). I like oddball things, for little to no reason other than no one else seems to like them.
So I had a hockey team, but not much else. We didn't have cable TV yet, so there was little to no access to Hockey on TV, so my interest was a passing interest at best. I was a giant pro basketball fan but was becoming frustrated at a league that started become a giant version of 1vs1 with 8 other guys on the court, and Referee's giving star players so much favoritism it might as well be rigged (Hello Michael Jordan). (and to this day I am convinced the NBA is rigged.) When your team is from Denver, well let's just say the refs seemed to show a little less favoritism towards Denver than the LA's of the world. (Okay so it didn't start with the Denver Nuggets and Michael Jordan, but they played a significant role).
Then the Avalanche came to town... and it was exciting. The newspapers argued over the team name (BTW my choice was "Storm Kings" named for the dozen or so firefighters that died on Storm King mountain that year, even if there was already the Kings I thought this was a good name, yet I digress.). Denver, who already had a successful minor league team, was alive with Hockey. I Still didn't have cable so I couldn't catch any action.
The turning point was the playoffs that year. Those playoffs had everything. The verbal jabs between Roenick of the Blackhawks and Roy, the explosion of the Chicken Wings-Avs rivalry, Joe Sakic's coming of age and heroics (not to mention 18 goals). Kris Draper looking like a Picasso painting. It all climaxed late at night when I was sitting in the basement listening to a Double-OT duel between Roy and the Beezer in Game four of the Stanley cup finals. Roy, in the brash cocky attitude that everyone hates, and yet strangely loves at the same time, had grown weary of plastic rats being thrown at him in Game 3 and proclaimed NO MORE RATS! (For those not familiar Scott Mellanby scored a hat trick the same night as he killed a rat with his stick, so Florida Fans started throwing rats on the ice when they scored a goal.) Well So far St. Patrick, adding to his legend, had delivered on his promise. Game 4 had gone into Double overtime. The Beezer and St. Patrick were in an Epic duel. My parents had faded, the night was late and I was sitting in my room listening to the radio trying to visualize the action, when Uwe Krupp scored the Stanley Cup clincher from the point.
That summer my mom got cable so we could watch the games on ESPN, the Nuggets free-fall was complete, To the point the NBA is dead to me. The Avs, continued to make headlines. Sakic, Forsberg, Roy and company came to town and delivered Denver it's first major sports championship.
We didn't care if we kind of lucked into getting a great franchise. Sure we felt bad for Québec City, but Denver had undergone 4 torturous Super Bowl losses (3 in my lifetime) and the Nuggets were good, just in time for the showtime Lakers. Denver needed a winner, and I am convinced that the Avs winning the cup showed Denver, it's fans, it's teams everyone, that you can be a winner in Denver. The Broncos won the next 2 Superbowl's, mainly cause the fans and team believed (remember '96-97 was when the Broncos were humiliated by Jacksonville in the playoffs), but that didn't matter because we knew they could come back. If the Avs could win a title in Colorado, anyone could, even the Broncos.
So all this culminates today in a lifelong Avalanche Fan. Hell I still have my #26 Stephan Yelle Jersey (and wear it regularly). That's the story.
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