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Remembering the Denver Cutthroats, an extinct Avalanche affiliate

The Fish - as they were called - didn’t swim for very long, unfortunately

There was a time not too long ago when the city of Denver had two professional hockey teams.

When the NHL went through its second lockout at the beginning of the 2012/13 season, it had been announced earlier that year on that Denver would get a second hockey club. This was not the first time Denver had a minor league hockey team and it was a pleasant return to second-tier professional hockey for the city.

The Denver Cutthroats were a former Central Hockey League (CHL) affiliate for the Colorado Avalanche at the third level. They were affiliates with the then-AHL-affiliate Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League (AHL) before it was the Colorado Eagles. To put it in today’s context, they would be the equivalent of the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies.

The Cutthroats called the Denver Coliseum home for two seasons. During the NHL lockout, it played host to hockey fans missing out on the Colorado Avalanche. It include some NHLers on their roster such as former Avs defender Kyle Quincey.

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The announcement of the former Denver Cutthroats left hockey fans excited for some sort of pro hockey in the fall of 2012. The inaugural opening night for the team saw a major crowd of over 5,000 people, and excitement buzzing around the new team. The Cutthroats would use this energy to their benefit, defeating the Missouri Mavericks in OT 4-3.

Despite their short life span, the Cutthroats were incredibly successful in their two year history. They boasted an overall record of 68-43-6 and made the playoffs both seasons.

This included a run to the CHL finals in their second season. However, in their playoff runs, they were eliminated by the Allen Americans in the first round and finals respectively. The Americans won the trophy in both of those seasons.

With the Coliseum’s large capacity, more often than not it wouldn’t be very full. There were never more than a few thousand people nightly at games. Despite this, fans could easily come to the games without tickets and get cheap $9 tickets right at the door. It was pretty good for CHL events, but of course was nothing like AHL or NHL attendance sizes.

It did not help that the Cutthroats never got the same recognition or media attention as the NHL or AHL. While it’s practically impossible for that kind of media saturation at the minor league level, it would have helped the team live longer than it did.

The games for the Cutthroats were never broadcast on TV, and broadcasted on a drowned-out AM radio station that didn’t receive much attention. The Cutthroats were limited on when they could play as well. With the Western Stock Show during in January at the Coliseum, the team had to play the whole month on the road.

It was announced on August 20th, 2014, that the Cutthroats would fold operations after two seasons. They hoped to find new investors to return for the 2015/16 season but it never happened, leaving the team six feet under for good.

Despite the short life span, as a fan who would attend some games with my dad, I really enjoyed a night at a Cutthroats game. If you had the opportunity to go to it and have some memorabilia to commemorate their lives, hold onto it close. They’re a team short-lived but remembered by those who did cherish them and love minor league hockey. It also might be worth something in the future too, who knows!

The Cutthroats may have been reeled in and caught, but is a piece of Colorado hockey history that should be revisited and remembered.