"You guys have been fuckin' amazing," a happily fried Gabriel Landeskog told a crowd of an estimated 200,000-plus people before handing the mic over to the "old fuck on the team, Erik Johnson."
Winning a Stanley Cup is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting — not that we would know, but it was easy to recognize a team letting it all hang out in downtown Denver during the Stanley Cup parade on June 30. Beer and champagne flowed, words were slurred, and love was omnipresent.
In a city where more than half of the residents can't even watch the Avalanche
on local television, there was plenty of proof that Denver is one of America's strongest hockey outposts. As someone who knows little about the sport and still laughs at the word "deke," there was a lot to take in, too. Here are six things I learned during the fun.
Mikko Rantanen likes to party
Cale Makar won the Conn Smythe trophy, but Mikko Rantanen was the parade MVP. No disrespect to the chugging abilities of his fellow Avs, but Rantanen put in work. His friends and family might have bruises from all the full beer cans that were thrown their way, all thanks to Rantanen standing on the side of fire truck begging for more; he chugged everything he could catch as if he'd just escaped drought, and luckily for the fantastic Fin, he only had a catch rate of about 20 percent. If he'd caught any more, he might not have been able to moonwalk and dab his way through the stage. That still didn't stop him from getting so drunk that he forgot how to speak English. Never change, Mikko.
Hockey has bad music, and that's totally fine
I think I heard more Good Charlotte at the parade than I have in the last seventeen years of my life, and there was plenty of ’80s rock in between. We can always count on hockey being more than a decade late to music taste, but there's no other way to have it. This is a sport that embraces mullets, toothless smiles and jean jackets. Playing Drake or Billy Eilish just wouldn't fit.
...but Denver could do better
No disrespect to Big Head Todd and the Monsters, who headlined the Avs rally concert at Civic Center Park, but hopes that Blink-182 would play "All the Small Things" at the parade only set the band up to fail. Thanks to a high-pitched and scratchy speaker system, they sorta did.
Alan Roach has the voice of three men
Thank God Alan Roach has a dignified chin. Anything less would be extremely disappointing after hearing that bellowing voice, which sounds like a combination of Vin Scully and Zeus. Booming, smooth and always on the money, Roach has enough oomph for three average public-address announcers. Get those vocals back on the train at Denver International Airport, already.
"In life, there is a time to party"
Those were the wise words of Avalanche color commentator and Channel 7 correspondent Peter McNab, who knows how hard it is to win in the NHL. McNab played nearly 1,000 games of professional hockey before becoming a color commentator and calling all three of the Avs' Stanley Cup championships. As the parade made its way down 17th Street and Channel 7 reported that players had filled water guns with beer, all of the TV people laughed — but McNab didn't.
"In life there is a time to party, and this is when it is," he said softly, with a gleam in his eye.
Don't worry, Peter. The Avs took your advice.
Hockey players are tough SOBs
André Burkovsky played with a broken ankle. Nazem Kadri scored a Stanley Cup goal on a broken thumb. Valeri Nichushkin's foot was busted, purple and swollen. Darcy Kuemper had to see an eye specialist through the playoffs after an eye poke in the Western Conference Finals. This information leaks out slowly during the NHL playoffs because of the nature of the sport, but we always learn eventually.