Hey there, Wildnerness...ers? Wildies? Wildophiles? The fuck you guys call yourselves anyway? Don't answer that; it's not important. What is important is that your fearless leader Emilie asked me to lend a hand in preparation for your first round playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche, specifically, a bit about why you should hate Colorado. Being the nice guy I am, I decided to lend a hand. You see, I'm a Red Wings fan.
I know I can stop with the intros there, because I'm confident that the majority of Wild fans actually know why Red Wings fans and Avalanche fans don't get along. That's something you've got over a large swath of the unwashed masses making up the blistering 90.5% fan attendance in the Pepsi Center (BTW that's 23rd in the NHL - several percentage points lower than hockey hotbeds like Anaheim or Tampa Bay and even a step below the New York "We've been sellers since before the Olympics" Islanders). You guys actually know hockey.
But this post isn't about why I don't like the Avs. It's about why you shouldn't. Merely meeting in the first round isn't enough and building division rivalry takes a bit of time. You could throw all your hate-stock into the fact that this is essentially the postseason rubber-match between your two teams if you want, but I'll warn you that if you find an Avalanche fan that even remembers the 2008 playoffs (let alone the 2003 postseason), you're dealing with a hockey fan who can take way more hate than you can throw at him or her, since that person has taken all the hate that Avs owner Stan Kroenke could throw at the concept of putting together a winning hockey team and still somehow chooses to support that franchise.
Say what you will about Craig Leipold, but people don't really doubt that he actually likes hockey. Meanwhile, the real-life version of Doug Dimmadome cares just enough to trick his team's fans into watching, but not enough to demand excellence in any facet of the team's operation other than the balance sheet. Don't believe me? Ask fans of the Rams, Nuggets, or Arsenal. He owns all of them too, along with the Pepsi Center, the television station that broadcasts all the Avalanche games, and even the Ticketmaster clone that sells service fees for the right to see them in person.
None of this is really bad per se. I'm just saying that you're not going to find a lot of purchase doing anything other than pitying the kind of fan who willingly gave support to the businessman who had a gift-wrapped cup team stripped of its soul and rebuilt on a facade thinner than when McDonald's starting redesigning their fast food joints to look more like European coffeehouses. Those people aren't fans, they're acolytes, and there's no reasoning with them.
The other half of the still laughably-small fanbase? Those are your standard-fare dipshit frontrunners and you all already know what they're like. The only difference is that these dipshit frontrunners drive Subarus.
I'll tell you honestly that if you're not ashamed of how dumb hockey fandom can be after looking at the Avalanche then you should probably get the fuck out of my face because you're part of the problem. Minny lost a franchise to awful ownership and had to rebuild one from scratch. Meanwhile, Colorado up and stole a team to get handed a nascent would-be dynasty (if not for the heroic Red Wings). When Kroenke bought the team, he was so desperate to put a historical mark on the franchise that they retired Bruins' legend Ray Bourque's number. Ray Bourque, the guy who played less than a season and a half with their team.
Here's a list of other candidates for Jersey retirement in Colorado, having met the mere 128 Avalanche games played + Stanley Cup requirement that the franchise stamped on Bourque the day they insulted the concept of giving a player the highest possible honor that can be bestowed upon him by a single franchise:
- David Aebischer
- Greg de Vries
- Darius Pratek
- Alexei Gusarov
- Jon Klemm
- Shjon Podein
I made up one of those names, BTW. If you're not sure which one, that's the point.
But hey, hatred isn't all about the past, nor is is all about how a despicable group of sports-hating shitbags have always run the team they didn't deserve to get results their idiot fanbase didn't deserve. There's plenty to hate about the current incarnation of the Avalanche too.
You're all probably aware of the cute angry-uncle antics of crazy asshole Patrick Roy, but it's really only cute from a distance. If you were the owner of a junior hockey team, an opposing coach or perhaps even his wife, you'd see an easily-recognizable pattern of an entitled brat who throws temper tantrums at the slightest provocation. Sure it's funny the same way that Joe Pesci's anger in Goodfellas was funny. the only difference is that Pesci got a satisfying ending. Roy keeps getting praise.
Yeah, it's all fun and games until he sends some dirtbag onto the ice to finish somebody's night, or even their playoff series. Just because he hasn't done it yet doesn't mean he won't. The guy sent his own son to do it. You think he has any more fatherly love for a meatbag like Patrick Bordeleau or Cody McLeod? Don't worry though, I'm sure he'll be the first to cry about gutlessness the first time somebody goes near his golden boy, Nathan MacKinnon... even when he starts it.
It's not even Bordeleau and McLeod though. The Avs have no likable players on their roster. Matt Duchene is the closest thing they have to it, but can you really like a guy who looks like he's Le Chiffre's little brother? How about the pride of Bloomington Minnesota: Golf-cart NASCAR champion and first-draft-pick-bust Erik Johnson? Pass.
Honestly, I'm also mad at Max Talbot. I had him first in my "Former Penguins who are definitely going to get caught with cocaine" pool and that worthless dickstain let me down (BTW, I also had Tyler Kennedy on that list, but that's a story for a different day).
Finally, listen, I know you folks have had run-ins with people who like to look at how a team performs in possession metrics and predict a fall, but let me tell you that the Avs are absolutely RIPE for rooting against based on those numbers. Maybe working under a coach with as much respect for women as he has really did make Semyon Varlamov 10% better as a goalie, but the Avs were positively awful at winning the possession battle with the score close and, unless Varlamov continues to avoid the failure coming his way, they're going down. There's a certain beauty at the thought of the Wild being the team that brings that crash; similarly, there must be a certain fear associated with losing to a paper tiger in the playoffs.
So go on, Wild fans. Hate the Avs like you should. It's the right thing to do.
JJ is the managing editor of SBN's Red Wings blog WingingitinMotown and is well known for his witty and trolling pieces. It's a win-win to have him rip the Avs :)