A few months ago, you may have thought there were no more Colorado Avalanche fans left in the city of Denver. Nobody was going to the games. The once-great Can That Sakic Built was a hollow, empty cavern where few brave fans of the Burgundy And Blue dared to sit.
A number of reasons were trotted out as to why attendance had dropped so significantly since the Lockout, but just one couldn't explain it. It wasn't just the ticket prices, or just the team's recent mediocre regular season performances. It wasn't just the loss of players like Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote to other teams. It was a combination of all of these things.
Ticket prices don't matter much when there's something really exciting and worthwhile to cheer for. With the Avs playing well in the playoffs, a new stud goalie between the pipes, and the hockey law offices of Sakic, Foote & Forsberg now back together, how could fans not show up in droves?
The most striking example of this fan resurgence was Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, during which the Avs eliminated the Wild and advanced to the second round---in front of the home crowd. Was The Can crazy? You betcha.
As the Denver Post's Mike Chambers reports, the volume level from the sold-out crowd was unbelievable, and surpassed anything offered by the so-called State Of Hockey in the previous games:
"It was unbelievable how loud it was," second-year center Paul Stastny said Monday. "When talking strategy before the faceoffs in the third period, you had to yell at your guys or get right in their ear. And with 20 seconds left in the game, when they had to fix the clock, the place was going nuts the whole time, and we're just standing there, amazed. It made it so much fun to play."
The sound of the cheering crowd was deafening even to those of us resigned to watching from a distance on television. But how loud was it to the fans in the stands? I'm glad you asked:
See also: this. Incredible, for sure. Considering that just a few months ago people were mocking and belittling the state of Colorado for failing to support their hockey team, the turnaround is even more impressive. All it took was for the team to regain that sense of purpose: win the Stanley Cup, no matter what. Now that they look like they have an outside chance of doing just that, the fans have come home to the Pepsi Center.
Some might write this all off as just a sign that a lot of those much-maligned "casual" hockey fans are back on the bandwagon, but Tapeleg doesn't want to hear any of that noise. He's too busy enjoying the roar of the crowd, just like you and me.
ADDENDUM: The Wild is dead, long live the Wild.
Greg Wyshynski, he of the five dozen blog posts a day in his new capacity as Yahoo! hockey scribe, commissioned me to deliver an eulogy for the Wild as we mourn their recent passing. You can read it here, if you're so inclined.