April 8, 2015
I’ve been asked a number of times how many rinks I’ve visited before I took this trip. The answer is an unimpressive seven, and the rinks include Toronto (old and new), Montreal (old and new), Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Chicago and Colorado.
As for Colorado (Denver), I’ve watched about 4-5 Avalanche games at the Pepsi Center before, and I’ve always been impressed with their arena. It’s a beautiful modern arena, so I thought I knew what to expect, but I was in for a surprise. The Pepsi Center has a new Jumbotron, and it has to be the biggest in the NHL. (Tampa Bay’s is quite huge too, but it’s screen size is not quite as big as the one at the Pepsi Center.) It stretches as wide as the distance between the two blue lines – it seems the size of a small apartment building.
I met up with the T.V. production crew for the visiting team for this game – the Nashville Predators, a team and organization which I have really grown to like. They gave me a tour of the building (as visitors), which included where the players warm up, the broadcast booth (up high in the press box), and the production truck(s) which sit in the underbelly of the arena. Very cool!
I was interviewed by Pete Weber, who does the play-by-play for the Predators, and I also met up with his sidekick, color commentator (and former NHL player) Stu Grimson.
After the interview, I headed down to take a few photos of the various areas where fans congregate for food, drink or conversation, or where they sit to watch the game.
In my travels, I ran into the Avalanche Ice Girls, and they insisted on a photo, for which I obliged. I also tried to get a photo with the Avalanche mascot Bernie, but it was tough to compete with children of single-digit ages, who stood in line before me.
I always enjoy the countdown to the puck-drop, and the Av’s do a very good job of this.
The Colorado Avalanche have enjoyed great success in the NHL, winning cups in 1996 and 2001, as the banners demonstrate. They also have a few Hall-of-Famers honored in the rafters.
It was a treat to join a friend of a friend to tonight’s game – Steve and his wife Donna. Sight unseen, we had never met before, but their warmth and hospitality made stop #26 in my 30 game trip very nice.