Voice of a Fan
SALVAS: Top Places I Want The Avalanche To Play Next
This week, the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets will take to the ice in Helsinki, Finland… wait… it’s not in Helsinki?!
(Quickly Googles “Tampere, Finland”)
Look, from what I’ve always known about (checks previous sentence for location) Tampere, it seems like a beautiful spot and a lovely city of roughly 245,000, the third most populated municipality in all of Finland! And don’t even get me started on it being the sauna capital of the world because of its abundance of public saunas (the most of any city in the world)! I’ve always said that about (checks previous sentence for location) Tampere!
This little trip across the Atlantic got me thinking about other places I’d like to see the Avalanche play games. When putting together this list, I took into consideration a few factors:
- Would the city have ties to the team? This could be through the franchise or a certain player.
- Is there an historic venue that could serve as the backdrop for a game?
- Would there be a spot in nature that could play host to a game much like Lake Tahoe did in 2021?
- Do I even need to make rules for this list?
- Lastly, and most importantly: is it awesome?
So with all that rattling around in my brain, let’s get into the list.
- Mystery, Alaska: Look, the kid Stevie Weeks can skate the river, but the Avalanche would go up there and absolutely crush that team and probably ruin the entire town for generations. This isn’t the Rangers and their one Stanley Cup in 82 years…
- Thompson Arena (Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH): When I worked for the Dartmouth hockey team, I used to leave a seat for Joe Sakic in the press box every game much like Ricky Bobby left tickets for his dad at every race. Unlike Ricky’s loving father, my friend Joe never showed up. This would be a good way for my dream to come true. Dartmouth and Avalanche legend David Jones could drop the puck and there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house.
- My backyard rink, New Hampshire: During the first year of Covid, the Ivy League shut down all sports and I had weekend free time on my hands for the first time as an adult. I had a young son who I wanted to get on skates, so I decided to build a backyard rink. My problem is usually that I don’t half-ass anything, so I spent all of that newly found free time and made an awesome rink… an awesome 20’x24’ rink! We had limited flat space in our backyard, so that was what I could get away with. I added retired number banners, Stanley Cup banners (just two at the time), state and national flags, a center-ice logo and every logo in franchise history on the boards in chronological order. We’ve moved and the rink has grown a smidge bigger in total area, but I still think it could handle the top pro hockey team in the world for a quick game.
- Lake Lucerne, Switzerland vs. New Jersey
Why? Well because when you think of Swiss hockey, you obviously think of legendary Avalanche goalie David Aebischer and Devils captain Nico Hischier! Well maybe not everyone, but I know I do! This would be a great game for the New Jersey captain as a sort of homecoming, but it would also give us a national broadcast that would make no less than 10 references to the Devils taking Hischier No. 1 overall and passing on Cale Makar (as did three other teams before my friend Joe snagged him at No. 4). I fell down a Google Maps deep rabbit hole looking for the perfect place to play this game and I thought I found it… but it turns out this place is actually in France:
So I looked again and realized I’ve been to Switzerland and of the coolest places I’ve been is a city on a lake with mountains as the backdrop… perfect! Lake Lucerne and the city of Lucerne and its surrounding towns are incredible. I don’t care where you find a spot there… just find one. Because it looks like this:
- Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia vs. Pittsburgh
Why? Well, if I have to answer this for you, you haven’t followed the NHL the last decade. The two prodigal sons of Cole Harbor with four Stanley Cups between them are legends in their hometown (and nationally, too). You could play this game in Halifax at the home of the Mooseheads and that would make a ton of sense because the venue could host an event like this. But let’s play this at the local rink where the two grew up playing: Cole Harbor Place. It’s a rink/library/gym/playground/everything in Cole Harbor and above the ice hanging from the rafters are the retired numbers of Nathan MacKinnon and Sidney Crosby. Let the MacKinnons, Crosbys and local hockey families in, keep the crowd low-key to reflect the small-town feel of the game. Then, set up a screen in the parking lot and open it to the public like you see during the playoffs in Edmonton, Toronto or Denver (during the Final).
- Jenny Lake / Grand Teton National Park vs. Seattle
Why? Google this spot if you don’t already know what it is. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and I would go back again in a second if given the opportunity. It’s also one state away from Colorado so I assume the Avalanche could claim it as their territory (but I’m sure Vegas will dispute that since they’re already trying to claim all of the West as theirs… heavy eye roll). Play this game against the Junior Avalanche (Seattle) and you’d have a great match-up. This would need a Tahoe-esque set up on the side of Jenny Lake to get the Tetons in the background. Or you could sign Pierre-Édouard Bellemare back and play on the lake and give him what he’s always dreamed about… against the guy who crushed his dreams during that press conference.
- Lake Louise in Banff vs. Calgary
Basically the same type of venue as No. 3, but probably more well known. I would love this game for so many reasons, not the least of which would be how much it would piss off so many people wanting the Battle of Alberta to play here. You know what? This is my list and I don’t want to see the Oilers play. I don’t want Evander Kane to have any fun, so I’m putting this game there between the Avs and Flames. Kadri and Zadorov against their former team. Cale Makar playing “at home.” The battle between two teams that once traded Dean McAmmond to each other twice in the same season without realizing that you couldn’t actually do that… This historic match-up has it all!
(That trade with Calgary that sent Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle to the Flames for McAmmond, Jeff Shantz and Derek Morris is still the one trade that haunts me 20 years later…)
- Quebec City vs. Montreal
Why? Because this is a no-brainer. A slam dunk. If you didn’t think I was going here, then you haven’t read any of my previous pieces. I’ve invested too much of my life into following, obsessing over and blindly loving the Colorado Avalanche that I couldn’t go back to my childhood team — the Quebec Nordiques — if the NHL ever figured it out and got them back in the city where the river narrows. This is one of just two games I don’t have outside. Instead, I want it played in the brand new rink they built a few years back that is home to the Ramparts now. Put the Avs in their original Retro Reverse jerseys so that the Nordiques logo returns to the ice in Quebec, but still showcases the color scheme of its Colorado life cycle. The best of both worlds. Playing it against the Canadiens is a great homage to the past rivalry, while also giving Avalanche fans the chance to revel in the fact that two in-season trades with the Habs led directly to Stanley Cups (Patrick Roy and Arturri Lehkonen).
There is beauty in all of the venues in Nos. 5 through 2, but there would be nothing more beautiful in the eyes of many hockey fans than seeing the Nordiques logo (albeit an altered one in this scenario) back where it belongs.
Make it happen.
Games I Don’t Care about the Avalanche Playing in:
- Colorado vs. Columbus anywhere
- Colorado vs. Columbus in Finland
Could We See History?
In the long, storied history of the Colorado Avalanche, they have never won a regular game outside of North America! Can you believe that?? That could all change this weekend with the Avs taking on the Jackets and trying to erase this long, painful part of our franchise’s great history. This unfortunate streak has reached the unbearable figure of two and dates all the way back to 2017. Damn you, Senators! You took our happy, beloved and definitely not disgruntled Matt Duchene with you and used him to beat us!
Many people are saying that a pair of victories this weekend could turn around the Colorado Avalanche franchise that has been reeling since that trip to Sweden five years ago. Sure, some good things have happened since then… but the bitter taste of that weekend in Stockholm still looms over the Colorado Avalanche and its fan base to this day.
Where would you want to see the Avs play?