With the 2004-2005 National Hockey League season officially in the grave, Colorado Avalanche fanatics have only one place to turn: Altitude. The new cable-sports network, founded by Stan Kroenke as a showcase for the professional teams he owns (most prominently, the Avs and the Denver Nuggets), may not have any new matches to broadcast, but it's got plenty of old ones. Programmers have the luxury of picking and choosing based on the final outcome, and thus far, they've selected thrilling victories, not discomfiting defeats. There's precious little suspense, but loads of icy satisfaction.

With the 2004-2005 National Hockey League season officially in the grave, Colorado Avalanche fanatics have only one place to turn: Altitude. The new cable-sports network, founded by Stan Kroenke as a showcase for the professional teams he owns (most prominently, the Avs and the Denver Nuggets), may not have any new matches to broadcast, but it's got plenty of old ones. Programmers have the luxury of picking and choosing based on the final outcome, and thus far, they've selected thrilling victories, not discomfiting defeats. There's precious little suspense, but loads of icy satisfaction.


Rather than banish pro hockey from its pages after NHL owners locked out players, editors at the Post wisely decided to have a little fun, recruiting kids between ages eight and fourteen to square off against each other in Xbox hockey clashes. Not only has this gimmick been a great way to introduce members of the Internet generation to newspapers, but it's given hockey scribes such as Adrian Dater an opportunity to try their hand at creative fiction. In the February 28 Post, for instance, Dater had Avs GM Pierre Lacroix denying that he'd responded to a loss by shouting "Heads will roll!," insisting that he'd actually said "Let's get on a roll." Sportswriting like that takes the sting out of the work stoppage.

Rather than banish pro hockey from its pages after NHL owners locked out players, editors at the Post wisely decided to have a little fun, recruiting kids between ages eight and fourteen to square off against each other in Xbox hockey clashes. Not only has this gimmick been a great way to introduce members of the Internet generation to newspapers, but it's given hockey scribes such as Adrian Dater an opportunity to try their hand at creative fiction. In the February 28 Post, for instance, Dater had Avs GM Pierre Lacroix denying that he'd responded to a loss by shouting "Heads will roll!," insisting that he'd actually said "Let's get on a roll." Sportswriting like that takes the sting out of the work stoppage.

Former Montreal Canadiens star and University of Denver coach Ralph Backstrom has struck gold as general manager of the scrappy, high-scoring Colorado Eagles, the second-year minor-league hockey team that's giving game-starved NHL fans a happy (and inexpensive) alternative at the sold-out Budweiser Events Center (aka the "Bud Barn") near Loveland. The Eagles led the Central Hockey League with a daunting 43-10-7 record, and forward Greg Pankiewicz, who has NHL experience, was voted the CHL's best player.


Former Montreal Canadiens star and University of Denver coach Ralph Backstrom has struck gold as general manager of the scrappy, high-scoring Colorado Eagles, the second-year minor-league hockey team that's giving game-starved NHL fans a happy (and inexpensive) alternative at the sold-out Budweiser Events Center (aka the "Bud Barn") near Loveland. The Eagles led the Central Hockey League with a daunting 43-10-7 record, and forward Greg Pankiewicz, who has NHL experience, was voted the CHL's best player.

When George Gwozdecky's underrated DU Pioneers team won the NCAA national championship last spring, college hockey was shocked. No surprise if the Pis repeat this season. After trailing archrival Colorado College in the polls for most of the year, DU (28-9-2) knocked off the Tigers in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association title game last Saturday with a 1-0 win and moved on to the NCAA tournament as a solid second choice behind Boston College. Look for the high-scoring Pioneers, backstopped by a pair of fast-developing young goaltenders, to come out as tough-minded and confident as ever in another surge to the Frozen Four.


When George Gwozdecky's underrated DU Pioneers team won the NCAA national championship last spring, college hockey was shocked. No surprise if the Pis repeat this season. After trailing archrival Colorado College in the polls for most of the year, DU (28-9-2) knocked off the Tigers in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association title game last Saturday with a 1-0 win and moved on to the NCAA tournament as a solid second choice behind Boston College. Look for the high-scoring Pioneers, backstopped by a pair of fast-developing young goaltenders, to come out as tough-minded and confident as ever in another surge to the Frozen Four.
Talk about dramatic turnarounds. When hard-nosed George Karl, late of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Seattle Sonics, took over as the Denver Nuggets' head coach on January 27, they had a dismal 17-25 record under fired Jeff Bzdelik and fill-in Michael Cooper, and fans had begun to boo the lackluster efforts of highly paid stars like Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Camby. Since then, though, the resurgent Nugs have played 18-5 ball, and they've apparently nailed down a Western Conference playoff spot. The difference appears to be the no-nonsense leadership of Karl, who has a rep for treating young players harshly but now seems to be getting the best out of teenager Anthony and Brazilian work-in-progress Nene. The team's 8-4 record in February earned Karl Coach of the Month honors; he'd prefer to win the award in April.

Pepsi Center
Talk about dramatic turnarounds. When hard-nosed George Karl, late of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Seattle Sonics, took over as the Denver Nuggets' head coach on January 27, they had a dismal 17-25 record under fired Jeff Bzdelik and fill-in Michael Cooper, and fans had begun to boo the lackluster efforts of highly paid stars like Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Camby. Since then, though, the resurgent Nugs have played 18-5 ball, and they've apparently nailed down a Western Conference playoff spot. The difference appears to be the no-nonsense leadership of Karl, who has a rep for treating young players harshly but now seems to be getting the best out of teenager Anthony and Brazilian work-in-progress Nene. The team's 8-4 record in February earned Karl Coach of the Month honors; he'd prefer to win the award in April.

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