Last week it was Minnesota and Chicago. This week it’s Colorado and Detroit.
The “Stadium Series” of N.H.L. outdoor hockey games celebrates the game present and past. Both of this month’s games in the outdoor series – in Minneapolis and Denver – also featured alum games between participanting clubs in the regular season games.
But the two events were very different.
Last week in a game between Minnesota and Chicago alums at the University of Minnesota stadium, the focus was not on the present day Wild, but rather on the old North Stars, who abandoned the Twin Cities for Dallas in the 1990’s.
This weekend the focal point of the Colorado alumn game was the Avalanche and their rivalry of the mid/late ’90’s with the Detroit Red Wings. Absent was any reference to the earlier Colorado presence in the NHL – the Rockies.
This is the 20th anniversary of the return of hockey to Denver. The Avalanche, previously the Quebec Nordiques, caught the fancy of locals by winning the Stanley Cup in their first year in town. Then they solidified that bond when they won again in 2001.
In contrast, the Rockies never won much during their short stay in town.
The franchise’s Denver years are sandwiched between their founding as the Kanas City Scouts in 1974-75 (new team along with the Washington Capitals) and their eventual move to New Jersey where they became the Devils.
But while their stay in town was short there are still names worth recalling.
The Rockies included the likes of Rob Ramage, Barry Beck, Joel Queenville, Lanny McDonald, Glenn (Chico) Resch and coach Don Cherry.
Back in October, as part of their 20th anniversary in Colorado, the Avalanche paid tribute to Colorado’s hockey history at at an early-season game against Columbus. That night included a salute to the Rockies. Among those in attendance were Lanny McDonald, Barry Beck, one time captain Wilf Paiement; Ron Delorme, Randy Pierce, Gary Croteau, and Mike Christie.
But for this weekend’s alumni game not much was to be heard or seen of the hockey Rockies – a team now remembered in the name of Denver’s Major League Baseball team.