DENVER — The Colorado Avalanche raised their 2022 Stanley Cup championship banner before opening the season with a 5-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks at Ball Arena on Wednesday, and it was a night to remember all the small things.
After the coaches and players were introduced, out stepped one more fan favorite in an Avalanche jersey. Mark Hoppus, a bassist and vocalist for the band Blink-182, invited the crowd of 18,143 to sing along to “All the Small Things,” the song that has become an anthem at Ball Arena. The fans belted it out as a video montage showed all the moments from last season.
“It is so humbling and amazing and gratifying that this happens,” Hoppus told NHL.com. “[As the song caught on at Avalanche games] it got bigger and bigger, and the crowd started singing longer and louder. Like, I get choked up watching it sometimes. It’s so awesome.”
The Cup appeared and was placed on a pedestal. Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, who didn’t play against the Blackhawks because of a lower-body injury, hoisted it in full uniform and took it for one last victory lap as the fans roared.
Video: The Avalanche raise Cup banner before tonight’s game
The banner was unveiled, and the players watched with their arms around each other, including Blackhawks defenseman Jack Johnson, a member of the Avalanche last season. After a photo, it went to the rafters, the crowd growing louder as it rose higher and finally took its place next to Colorado’s banners from 1996 and 2001.
“We were talking, like, it’s going to be there forever,” forward Mikko Rantanen said. “It’s a pretty cool moment. When you’re 70 years old, I don’t know if you’ll come here, but watching TV, you’ll know it’s our championship team in the rafters. It’s hard to think about it right now. You don’t think about it too much, but I think we’ll appreciate later, for sure.”
The last three days have been a blur for the Avalanche, last season’s success blending into this season’s challenge.
They received their championship rings in a private ceremony Monday night.
Not only were the rings spectacular — 14-karat white gold, glittering with 669 diamonds, 42 rubies and 20 sapphires — but whoever designed the box thought, well, outside the box. When opened, a screen inside the lid showed slow-motion video of the moment the Avalanche defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games and clinched the Cup at Amalie Arena in Tampa on June 26.
“Ring night was awesome,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “Really good night. Fun. Emotional. Great venue. Great dinner. Great company. It was really nice.”
When the Avalanche arrived for the morning skate Wednesday, they found themselves in a renovated dressing room complex under the stands at Ball Arena. The coaches have a new office with a theater they can use to show video in team meetings. The players have a new lounge with a much-improved dining area, and in the main room, they sit in an oval with a massive Avalanche logo on the ceiling. Each stall has 12 built-in fans to dry equipment.
The construction workers are still putting on the finishing touches, but it’s cushy already.
“Yeah, it’s amazing,” Bednar said. “I think they’ve done a really nice job there.”
Video: Best of the Stanley Cup Banner-Raising Ceremony
Considering all that and the ceremony, how do the Avalanche move on from last season? How do they stop themselves from lounging around and enjoying the spoils of victory? How do they get pumped up when the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs are six months away?
“Those are things we kind of struggled with after we won, getting off to a good start,” said Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, who won the Cup with Chicago in 2010, 2013 and 2015. “I mean, we knew we were good enough where we’d get ourselves back into the race and be a good team, but [it was difficult] just to really come out flying and be excited for year.
“There’s not really much time off. It feels like you just got done playing, and all of a sudden, you’re back at training camp. I know those guys got their rings the other night too, so it’s exciting times for them, and they’re probably reliving a lot of moments, so it’s tough to kind of put that in the past and jump into another season.”
At least against the Blackhawks, who are expected to finish at or near the bottom of the NHL this season, the Avalanche looked ready. Although they allowed two power-play goals, they scored four themselves. They outshot the Blackhawks 35-17, including 12-4 in the first period following the ceremony. Artturi Lehkonen had two goals and an assist, Valeri Nichushkin scored two goals, Rantanen had four assists, and Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon each had two.
The Avalanche face a bigger challenge at the Calgary Flames on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET; SN1, ALT, ESPN+, SN NOW).
“It was awesome,” said forward Andrew Cogliano, who scored the opening goal at 13:44 of the first period. “Obviously, once-in-a-lifetime moment there, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Crazy. Unforgettable, really. That caps off that year, puts a lot in perspective. It’s good to get a win and now move on.”
This news is republished from another source. You can check the original article here