That’s how long it’s been since the Colorado Avalanche last hung a Stanley Cup banner in Denver. Wednesday ended that drought, as the team hoisted the third championship banner in franchise history at Ball Arena ahead of The Avs’ 5-2 win Above the Chicago Blackhawks.
Fans stood on their feet as Bernie, the avalanche mascot, skated around the ice while waving a giant “hockey return” flag as he has done so many times over the years. The players and coaches were all given a warm welcome. The loudest voice has been reserved for Pavel FrancosAnd the Eric Johnsonand MacKinnon and Makar and Miko Rantanen.
Avalanche captain Gabriel Landskog caught the injured reserve, to the surprise of a number of fans. Landeskog received a standing ovation while snowboarding in his full gear.
Players stayed on the ice when Blink-182 bassist and vocalist Mark Hobbs walked on the ice to the crowds. Hoppus led the crowd as he sang his band’s 2000 song, “All The Small Things,” which became an anthem among avalanche fans. The crowd sang while the arena video board played a montage for the crowd celebrating the team’s championship.
Then Landeskog grabbed a Stanley Cup, raised it over his head and then received what would have been the evening’s loudest reaction. He then put down the cup before joining his teammates so they could get a position to watch the banner go through the rafters.
One of the players who sat in the distance was the Blackhawks’ defensive man Jack Johnson. He was a member of last year’s team that won the title. He remained on the bench for the majority of the concert before taking his place with his former teammates. They all stood up their arms to watch the banner take place next to the team’s previous titles in the 1995-1996 and 2000-01 seasons.
“It would be great to absorb everything,” Newhawk said before the match. “But we also know it’s the end of the festivities, and we know we have to be prepared,” he added.
Each banner raising event comes with its own level of anticipation. As for the avalanche, it started in the morning. The players walked into the new locker room and were immediately met with questions about an evening that had been years in the making. This continued when the players arrived at the arena and then took part in a party that saw them walk a red carpet surrounded by fans.
This was also around the same time that Hoppus arrived at the Ball Arena. He drew a few double shots of yard workers and everyone else who was around when he walked around the aisles while wearing a blue Los Angeles Rams hoodie. Hoppus then met the arena’s entertainment and production team, where they accompanied him during his role in the concert.
The classic Blink-182 kick started turning into an in-game tradition early in the 2019-20 season. It would be played between sequences and eventually, the audience continued to sing long after the song was over and continued playing.
Hoppus said he first learned about it after seeing a tweet from a fan saying he should check out how Avalanche used the popular Blink song.
“It’s crazy. We wrote that song in ’99 and here it’s 23 years later, people are still singing it,” Hobbs said. “People imitate [guitarist/singer Tom DeLonge’s] human voice. It is a complete thing. She has taken a life of her own beyond us and outside of our squad. It fills me with joy.”
Hoppus said he didn’t get a chance to see a full playoff round in the avalanche. But he was able to watch Match 6 when they snatched the title against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“We tried to go out at one point during the Stanley Cup Finals and our plane had mechanical problems and we couldn’t take off,” Hoppus said, a day after the band announced they would be reuniting and releasing a new album. .
After a few months, everything worked out. NHL chief content officer Steve Meyer told ESPN Wednesday that it was an easy decision for the league to reach out to Blink-182 after seeing how much Avalanche fans had associated with the song. Meyer said the league had a previous relationship with the band, and that he was on board right away until travel issues paused plans.
Originally, Travis Parker, DeLong and Hoppus were all traveling to Denver for Game 5 and led the crowd into singing the song — similar to what Hoppus did on Wednesday.
“Then we got a phone call that afternoon they were all on the plane, but the plane was having mechanical difficulties,” Meyer said. “We tried desperately to find another plane. It turns out, we couldn’t find one. We didn’t announce it. But we were very shocked. We were very upset.”
However, there was a plan to try Blink-182 again if there was a Game 7. Once that wasn’t in the cards, the strategy turned to the opening match. Meyer, in fact, said that Blink-182 reached out again to see if there was a way it could do something in the fall.
“It turns out today that not all of the band members can be here,” Meyer said. “But Mark is the song’s biggest advocate…When we reached out to him, he wanted to do it. It turned out to be a really cool moment.”
Steve Johnston, executive producer and executive director of the game show at Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, said planning for the party began shortly after Avalanche won the Stanley Cup.
Johnston said his team went to work right away after the Avs won the Stanley Cup. She started producing videos that played during the party while also working on other details such as getting a special winch that would allow them to raise the banner over the net along the glass and into the rafters alongside other banners.
But there were some details that were ironed out much later. One of them is how active Landeskog is at the party given that he is still recovering from an injury. Another detail was finding time to rehearse the party. Johnston said the Ball Arena’s schedule was so busy that his team only had one rehearsal to hoist the flag. He was able to practice again on Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after the Blackhawks wrapped up their morning skating.
“We used the 2001 banner to raise it because we didn’t want anyone to take pictures of the new banner just in case,” Johnston said. “The whole summer has gone into planning this special night.”