The casual hockey watcher knows Haynes best for his epic freakouts following game-winning Avalanche goals — happy events that have been in short supply this season. But despite his reputation, he's far from a one-trick screamer. His knowledge of the game is as wide as it is deep, and he's got an impeccable sense of pace and dynamics. He understands when to speed up, when to slow down, when to shift into overdrive, and when to put it in park, and this aptitude continues to serve him well as the team he's paid to watch plays out the string. The Avs have struggled through their worst season, but Haynes has quietly had his finest.
With the death of the Rocky Mountain News, fiending Broncos fans will need new dealers to get their full fix of Broncos talk. Mile High Report is just the blog for the job. It's consistently populated with detailed, thorough and mostly rational analysis on subjects interesting and mundane, from Brandon Marshall's off-the-field issues to the cover skills of the Raiders' secondary. It's a lively forum for Broncos fans to sound off in, but it's slightly more sane than the rambling in other Broncos forums. And on top of its own analysis, the blog skillfully wrangles coverage of the team from all corners of the country, making it a one-stop shop for all things Broncos.
Pepsi Center
It takes a lot to admit you're wrong, but that's what Nuggets GM Mark Warkentien did when he wisely shipped career chemistry-killer Allen Iverson to Detroit in exchange for Denver native Chauncey Billups. Iverson, whom Warkentien brought to the team in December 2006, has helped sink the Pistons. Billups — calm, accurate, and willing to play defense and pass — has helped make the Nuggets relevant. That move, and that move alone, makes Warkentien the best of Denver's sports suits.
The Falcons make more out of less than any college football team in the country. Still, they seemed en route to a disappointing 2008 season until around the midway point, when coach Troy Calhoun handed over the offense to super-frosh Tim Jefferson, whose running and passing abilities regularly left defenses looking rubber-legged. Under Jefferson's leadership, the Falcons went 5-2 — and while they narrowly lost to Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl, they have no reason to feel dejected. After all, Jefferson, who was named the Mountain West freshman of the year by Sporting News, is just getting started.
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True, we'd feel better about praising the Nuggets if the NBA season ended at the halfway point. That way, we could focus on the glorious addition of Chauncey Billups, the belated blossoming of Nene, the return of Kenyon Martin to his pre-Nugs form, the unexpected contributions from players such as Chris "Birdman" Andersen, and so on. After the All-Star break, though, the crew temporarily slipped back to its old ways — especially the ultra-talented Carmelo Anthony, whose game seems to be regressing. The squad remains the cream of Denver's pro-sports franchises — but they should be even creamier.
Being newspaper people, we're big supporters of the freedom-of-speech thing — unless it costs our team fifteen yards. That's why we salute Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley for his brave shushing of fellow WR Brandon Marshall, who after a November touchdown against the Cleveland Browns whipped a glove from his crotch and tried to put it on, in an apparent tribute to Barack Obama, Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos and, perhaps, Michael Jackson. The problem: The display would have cost the Broncos fifteen yards, and possibly the game. That's when Stokley stepped in, pushing the glove out of sight and explaining to Marshall why he should save his politics for the locker room. It worked, the Broncos won the game, and Stokley won our hearts.
Tucked away on the other side of the Continental Divide, on the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River about seven miles above Aspen, lies one of the state's singular treasures: the Devil's Punch Bowl. It's not just a swimming hole; it's Nirvana with a river running through it. Imagine a cool, refreshing stream (okay, it's Ice Station Zebra cold), a glorious, in-the-raw alpine setting (um, would it be too much to ask for a bathroom?) and numerous launching sites for flinging your body into the abyss of a watery embrace (as long as you're not afraid of dizzying heights). Best of all, this mountain-stream madness is but a Frisbee throw from Highway 82 — just close enough to run back, naked and screeching, when Mr. Bear comes stumbling out of the woods looking for an easy meal.
Terrain parks seem to get bigger and badder with each passing season as ski resorts try to find new ways to attract the snow-bro crowd to their lift lines. Colorado certainly has no shortage of Olympic-sized Superpipes, big air jumps and rainbow rails for the young and the reckless to choose from. But sometimes girls and guys just wanna have fun, which is why Keystone's A51 takes the cake. Voted among the top in the nation by both Transworld Snowboarding and Freeskier magazines, A51 balances the heart-pounding mega-features against an assortment of smaller offerings such as wall rides, spine-ramp boxes and culvert tubes. The layout maximizes flow, giving riders more bang (and fun) for their buck.
Trying to find a great place to ride without leaving the city can be a challenge. That's why we love this long stretch of 32nd Avenue. Meet your friends in the Highland neighborhood and then head west. You'll pass through some of Denver's oldest, most picturesque neighborhoods before crossing into Wheat Ridge and zipping by Crown Hill Regional Park. From there, 32nd takes you into Golden, where you end up on the back side of the sprawling Coors brewery and at the base of Colorado's lovely foothills. Let's ride!
Paul Derda Recreation Center
Broomfield's swanky Paul Derda Recreation Center has the answer to all those crummy winter days when the little ones are going stir-crazy — courtesy of its indoor playground. We're not talking about some lousy jungle gym. Think a McDonald's PlayPlace on steroids: a multi-story climbing structure, a labyrinth of rope ladders and fun-house tunnels, even tandem super-long slides. Best of all, you don't need to throw down for a Happy Meal, because the whole thing is free for families. And since it's all swathed in safety padding, the only tears you'll see are the ones that start when you tell them it's time to go home.

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