Avalanche just the tip of the Denver sports iceberg | SummitDaily.com

Avalanche just the tip of the Denver sports iceberg

Jason Starr

I just got through spouting off about the inevitability of a Red Wings/Avalanche Western Conference Finals matchup, and the Avs go and lose Game 5 Saturday to San Jose. Oh, but that dream Red Wings matchup will happen. It has to.

If there’s one thing the Colorado Avalanche have proven during their time in Denver, it’s that they deserve our trust. They’ve almost always won the games and series they are supposed to, and they are perhaps the best bounce-back team in sports. That is why, despite pivoting the wrong way in a pivotal Game 5, despite now having to win two straight – one on the road – against a very good club, no one seems worried.

It’s like when the Avs lost Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Devils last year. Same situation, but somehow, Ray Bourque was going to get his Stanley Cup. Just like the Avalanche are going to play the Red Wings in the Conference Finals. And it’s going to be a war. Anything less would be a disservice to hockey fans everywhere outside the South San Francisco Bay area. The fans demand it, the Colorado players demand it of themselves. These are circumstances in which the Avalanche usually thrive.

– Every so often it helps to peer down Interstate 70, into the bustling city, and appreciate what a quality sports town Denver has become. Now is one of those times. It’s a nice coincidence that the major sports begin to heat up right when the mountain sports begin to slow down. So, with ski turns becoming less and less available and the summer season not yet in full swing, here’s a look at what the professionals are doing down in Den-Den.

– The Colorado Rockies have been around long enough that the severe disadvantages of playing at altitude are becoming indisputable. And slowly, with one playoff appearance to show for 10 years of Mile High baseball, Rockies fans are starting to realize they may never have a winner.

So fans must look for the small victories and lessons learned during a season. This year, the Rockies have already provided a useful example of the need to break old habits and stir stagnant energy.

It’s one thing to lose, which the team did incessantly under former manager Buddy Bell. It’s another to become stale. Bell was a nice guy, and the players respected him. But the change to former hitting instructor Clint Hurdle has been a breath of fresh air that the Rockies didn’t even know they needed. Colorado is 10-5 under their new manager, who happens to be goofy and fun-loving.

Although still in the National League West cellar, the Rockies have given their fans a valuable life lesson: Beware stagnant energy; stir the pot.

– The Nuggets are a mess. Their coaching situation is unsolved, their star player would rather be elsewhere and the guy that’s supposed to fix everything is named Kiki.

The NBA goes on. A few more days and the league will be down to its final four. But there is only one.

From opening day and until the brilliant troika of Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal part ways, the Los Angeles Lakers own the NBA. If this team doesn’t win three more championships, it will have underachieved.

– These are slow times for Colorado’s favorite team the Broncos. Slow times for the NFL too. But leave it to Brian Griese to provide some comic relief. Griese. Broncos fans have no idea what to make of him. Keep in mind, he’s the team’s first quarterback post John Elway, so only the second coming of Joe Montana (or John Elway) would suffice.

But Griese follows one really good year with two poor, injury-plagued campaigns and throws in the added bonus of a driving-while-impaired conviction. Then after minicamp broke earlier this week he stumbles at a teammate’s party and knocks himself unconscious. There’s no word on whether alcohol was involved, and to some fans, it wouldn’t matter. But do you want this guy leading your team? Forget that he’s no Elway, he may not even be Jarious Jackson.

Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at jstarr@summitdaily.com.

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