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Avalanche Storytime with Adrian

Avalanche Storytime: Off the top of my head…



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Hope everyone is OK. I hope everyone has been in a better mood than I’ve been of late. I’d say, after a month of shelter-in-place, I’ve hit a few speed bumps mentally of late. Just haven’t been in a great mood. But enough whining from me. I thought I would pass some time here with some Avalanche stories from over the years off the top of my head, some things that can’t be found in a book I’ve already written or anything. Or, maybe some are and I’ve forgotten. So, let’s have some Avalanche storytime, the vignettes version:

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  • I still think back a lot – well, maybe not a lot, but at times anyway – to when the  Avs were in Sweden during 9-11 for training camp, along with some exhibition games against Swedish and Finnish teams. In a way, it was my first shelter-in-place experience, as we were all cooped up at the same hotel for days after the attack. Well, we could go out and go to restaurants, in Stockholm, but we couldn’t do what we all most wanted, which was to get back home following that dreadful day. One night, I went out with my wife for dinner in Stockholm. When we got back to the hotel, former Avs player Eric Lacroix – now the video coach of the team – and somebody else from management was in our elevator back up to the rooms. We made pleasantries, talking about where we went and what we had for dinner. Eric told us he had a new thing as an appetizer, called “sweetbread” and said how much he liked it. We told him what sweetbread was – fried cow brains – and he looked suddenly like he wanted to throw up.
  • Remember Norm Jones? Of course you do. He was the Avs’ radio color man for many years, and before that was the voice of the old Colorado Rockies, not to mention DU hockey and other things. (I talked to Norm recently and he’s doing well). Anyway, Norm didn’t mess around when it came to his food. He liked good food and good restaurants, and he didn’t cheat himself at the table. One night in Boston, on something of a dare from some other Avs personnel around him, Norm ate something like 75 oysters at the Union Oyster House. That’s a LOT of oysters.
  • Not as many as a man named Hayne Ellis ate one night though. Ellis is a former PR guy with the Avs. He ate 120 oysters one night in Boston, to top Jones. There are witnesses.
  • Speaking of guys who liked to eat: Remember Marcel Aubut? If not, he was the final owner of the Quebec Nordiques, the guy who was forced to sell to Denver people and see the team move. It wasn’t Aubut’s fault, he didn’t have much choice. Anyway, Marcel was a big guy who also liked his food. And even he would laugh about that. He was just a big man with big appetites, so what? One time, while looking over a menu at a restaurant, Aubut couldn’t decide what he wanted as an appetizer. Everything looked pretty good, so he couldn’t narrow it down to just one or two. So, he told the server, “Bring me everything on the menu”  and they did.
  • That first Avalanche season, when I used to ride the planes with the team occasionally? We almost had a plane crash, in 1995. It was early in the season and we were on our way to Uniondale, N.Y., for a game with the Islanders. As we descended down to the runway of a private, small airport, the plane suddenly jerked back up into the air. Turns out there was another plane taking off from the same runway, coming right at us for a few seconds. All turned out well, obviously, but I remember the pilot being plenty pissed off when we landed. Avalanche storytime could have ended very prematurely that day.
  • Rob Blake was many things – elite defenseman, super nice guy. He was also the greatest shaver I’ve ever seen. Blake couldn’t stand any whiskers or a beard – not even for the playoffs – and even after games, when he’d get a couple hours’ worth of stubble, he had to be clean-shaven. After every single game, you’d see Blake with a face full of shaving cream, looking into a mirror, but it was amazing how fast it came off from his razor. He would shave his entire face in, like, six or seven quick, surgical strokes. He’d wipe any cream residue and then pat his face like “Ahhh.”
  • Dean McAmmond used to have this little ritual with his skates, that’s hard to describe but basically: He couldn’t leave the dressing room until his two skates were perfectly balanced, standing upright by his locker. Only when he thought they were perfectly balanced, in whatever way that was, would he then hang them up and retreat to the back room.
  • Former Avs D-man Cory Sarich had a real set of rituals after every game, too. One of them was his use of some kind of gelatin ring that he would always carefully put back into a see-through glass case. I still don’t know what that thing was, but you’d see him fussing with it after every game.
  • The only time I think I’ve ever seen two Avalanche players come close to throwing punches at each other in the locker room was between Adam Foote and Scott Hannan. Some kind of argument on the ice carried over into the room and they were really barking at each other for a few seconds, with all us media schlubs in the room. I think it quickly diffused.
  • I wrote about this at the time, but no doubt most have forgotten it: Did you know that, in 1997, Avs player Rene Corbet won $50,000 in a Quebec lottery? He used it to help buy his parents a house.
  • In the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals, Avs GM Pierre Lacroix, through PR man Jean Martineau, invited the Denver media out to a restaurant in Florida, I think the night before Game 3. As a gag, the restaurant brought Lacroix a silver platter with a top over it, as a surprise dessert or something. It turned out to be one of those plastic rats that Panthers fans threw onto the ice that year, after goals. Without missing a beat, Lacroix took the bottom off one of the salt shakers and poured it all over the rat and said, “Sir, your rat is in danger of being buried by an Avalanche.”
  • One time, hanging around Patrick Roy’s locker, the subject of the first goalie to wear a mask – the great Jacques Plante – came up. Roy knew Plante some as a young player coming up with Montreal. I asked Roy something like “Have you talked with Jacques lately?” Well, no hadn’t, Roy said, because, well, he died in 1986. Oops.
  • If any of you have any good Avalanche storytime things you want to share, the comments are certainly open. We all have our own Avalanche storytimes somewhere.
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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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Aaron Hinton

AD…speaking of Scott Hannan…didn’t he shower between every period of every game?

Jeff Fawcett

2013-14. Our Avalanche Honeymoon. Outside of practice, we see Paul Stastny come out. Hoping to meet him, we wave our sign. He turns to look, but does not come out the fan exit.
A couple months later, we send signatures requests to those we didn’t get to meet.
4 days after Stastny signs with St Louis, we receive his returned signature. We like to think we have the last Paul Stastny Colorado Avalanche signature. ❤️


Thanks Adrian,
Loved the “Top of Your Head” memories. May I suggest sharing your favorite memories from covering the rivalry with the Red Wings? Those were some pretty awesome years!

Adrian Dater

At the risk of sounding like an ass, those memories are mostly all in my book “Blood Feud”


Regarding Rob Blake’s shaving habit, I really miss the days when it was just a handful of players growing playoff beards instead of entire teams turning into Paul Bunyans!

The PG

1996, after the Cup win. I’m shopping in Costco, which had recently bought out Price Club. This was back in the early Costco days, when it wasn’t crowded and you would awkwardly run into the same people over and over again as everyone circled around the warehouse. Anyway, before I get to the back of the store, I realize the couple in front of us is Joe and Debbie Sakic. I am stunned. His wife is very pregnant with what would turn out to be his first child. At first, I just ogle from a distance and whisper to my… Read more »

Nadia Archuleta

I’d never heard that Rene Corbet story. Thanks for sharing!

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