Posted on: October 15, 2009 3:15 pm
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last year then you've heard EVERY single Denver sports franchise get thrown under the bus one way or another. All it has done is provide fuel for each team to prove the nay sayers wrong. So far so good.
It all started with the Denver Nuggets last year. Not ONE person picked them to win the Northwest division let alone make the playoffs. Even after they traded for Chauncey Billups they were picked to finish no higher then 7th in the powerful Western Conference. What happened? Oh yeah they finished 2nd in the Conference and won the division over a very young talented Portland team. Their record of 54-28 tied the single season franchise record for wins and got Denver fans excited like never before.
Even after that, no one picked them to go to the Western Conference Finals. What happened? They made it there easily beating New Orleans and Dallas in 5 games both series. Who were these guys?? Where did they come from? The answer is nowhere, they were there all along and have had the talent to do this for years. It just finally came together for them this last year. In my mind the Conference Finals was the REAL Finals. The Nuggets gave the Lakers much more of a fight then Orlando. In fact they could've won that series in 5 games if it wasn't for a couple of bad inbound passes. Doubters doubt no more and the Nuggets are now getting more recognition as they rightfully deserve.
Now on to the Colorado Rockies. 18-28 was not the way to start the season and everyone had written them off by that point (rightfully so). But even before the season started no one gave them a chance and called the NL West the National League doormat. What happened?? The Rockies then won 17 of 18 and stormed back to win the Wild Card with a record of 92-70. Also a franchise record for wins. Also noteworthy, the NL West produced 2 of the 4 teams in the postseason and the Giants were in pursuit of the Rockies for the wildcard the whole way until the last 2 weeks. Firing Clint Hurdle and hiring Jim Tracy was a huge factor, but even after that happened no one gave them a shot. But like the Nuggets they proved everyone wrong. Sort of an ongoing theme in Denver these days.
Next we move on to the Denver Broncos. Josh McDaniels had a fire storm thrown at him after trading away Jay Cutler and having issues with Brandon Marshall. The media said they'd win 4, maybe 5 games all year. What happened? They won their first 5 games. Now everyone is calling McDaniels the early coach of the year. Kyle Orton went from getting bashed everywhere to a surprise and even so far as an early MVP consideration. (see ESPN's latest MVP rankings, he's 7th) Brandon Marshall went from a cancer to a hard working scoring machine. The Defense went from the laughing stock of the NFL to the best defense in the LEAGUE. Thank Mike Nolan and McDaniels for reshaping the defense. All in all, they are also proving everyone wrong.
Last but not least, the Colorado Avalanche. They were supposed to be rebuilding this year, and in many ways they are. They have two 18year old kids starting at center on their 2nd and 3rd line. But they are producing and are 4-1-1 thru 6 games. How it may be too early to tell if they will keep it up all year, they are still surprising people enough for ESPN's Peter LeBrun to right an article on how surprising they have been. They got a steal at Goalie this summer signing Anderson. He has been great so far with a .940 save percentage and a 1.98 GAA. So far, the Avs are following the Denver trend and proving everyone wrong. Even with a rookie head coach named Joe Sacco.
We had the 'Redeem Team' in the Olympics, now we have the redemption city. It's Denver. For some reason Denver never gets respect. See my previous blog on how the Stars of Denver get looked over for every award possible. (i.e. see Troy Tulowitzki for rookie of the year in 2007, Matt Holliday for MVP in 2007, Carmelo Anthony for rookie of the year in 2003, Todd Helton practically every year with gold gloves, he has won 3 but deserves many more. And probably soon to be added to the list will be Josh McDaniels and Jim Tracy for coach of the year) For some reason Denver is an afterthought in the sports world. Denver may be the fittest city in the nation and the 2009 #1 place to live, but apparently it's not for the sports teams. However Denver likes it that way, they like proving people wrong and will continue to do so.
Posted on: April 13, 2009 3:18 pm
As an unknown sports writer, I don't follow hockey all too much. I am a hometown type of guy following all local teams. I have kept up with where we are in the standings and always try to catch a game or two. Now it may be easier.
The Avalanche today fired General Manager Francois Giguere today after a terrible season finishing in last for the first time since the Avs arrived in '95. If your a generalist you might say so what, one year at the bottom, who cares? Denver, and the state of Colorado do. For the better part of a decade the Avs were expected to come up with a division title and anything less seemed unacceptable. The last few years have gotten away from the Avs, they have missed the playoffs twice in 3 years. Not acceptable from a city and town that demands excellence from their local hockey club.
There was a time when the Avs sold out every game and challenged for the Stanley Cup every year. Those days have long since faded and Pierre Lacroix finally realized that and parted ways with his GM of 3 years. Pierre is a busy guy, having a foot in with not only the Avalanche, but the Colorado Rapids of the MLS, the St. Louis Rams of the NFL and the Arsenal of the Premier Euro Soccer League. He's got plenty on his plate, but I think I speak for everyone in Colorado when I, scratch that, "we" say thank you for finally showing some interest in your hockey team.
It may be a long climb back to the powerhouse status we are all accustomed to, but this is to say the least, a positive step in the right direction.