The Colorado Avalanche are clearly a model a franchise — and the on-ice product is just the beginning of it.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: If you-- if you play "All The Small Things" at any point in your arena, everyone now from here on out is going to say, oh, you guys are trying to be like the Colorado Avalanche because the way the fans have responded to this-- and I've seen it at different points in the regular season, and I always thought it was cool. But the way that it has been shown throughout this postseason and the energy that is flowing in the arena when it happens-- it gives me vibes of like-- Remember, when Nashville Predators fans were in vogue in, like, 2016, 2017 because of the way that the arena sounded during that postseason?
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yep.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I'm getting those same vibes. That energy is there. And with the way that we all watch hockey and the way that we enjoy these games, the crowd is a big part of it, and they deserve so much credit for how they've been able to push their guys on. The fact they play it in the first period of game 1 and the game was tied-- that just goes to show how important that tradition is. And the fact that, like, it's been co-opted by Colorado-- that's just really cool to see.
And like I said, I feel I feel a bit bad for people who have it in their own arenas, and they're going to be able to be like, well, we did it, too. But no one's going to really care. So yeah, it's going to be nuts.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Colorado is taking a couple. I think-- you might be too young for Lit, the band? "My Own Worst Enemy"-- they're playing that I believe after "All the Small Things," which is a great song. It's even better than "All the Small Things," in my opinion. But apparently, the Red Wings do--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: OK-- I love "All the Small Things." I literally--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I love "All the Small Things."
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I grew up on Blink-182. It is the best, dumbest song in the world. Like, if you listen to lyrics, what are we even talking about? I have no idea. But everyone knows the lyrics to it. Everyone can sing. It it's great. But that Lit, "My Own Worst Enemy"-- a great song as well.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: It is.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Apparently, the Red Wings do that, if social media is correct.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I don't know.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: And then they're doing that better. Listen, no song is safe with the Colorado Avalanche because they have the best fans in the game right now. I don't think it's even close.
Colorado's the model franchise in so many ways. But the atmosphere in that building, plus the style that they play-- the team, the amount of talent on that team-- everything is at a 10 out of 10 right now for them. Everyone in the hockey world should want to be in that rink right now, experiencing what it looks like, what it feels like. It's awesome. It's impossible to not love what's going on in Colorado because it's so, so cool. And again, to my previous point, I just hope they win it on home ice because I can't imagine what the scenes will be like. It'll be so awesome.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Kind of weird that, like, there's a chance that history in a weird way could repeat itself after 20 years because the way the Colorado Avalanche looked in 2001, when they won with the pieces that they had-- there are a lot of people, I'm sure, became Avalanche fans off that run. And now with the way that the Avalanche look now, 20 years later, there's a possibility where you could see an uptick in-- if you're a casual watching the game, you could see a lot more Cale Makar jerseys.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: It's young people. It's awesome.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah!
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Listen, it's different for us because we're in Toronto and Montréal, respectively, and you need money to go to games. I would never-- and I am so privileged to be at many Leafs games, as many as I want to be because I'm credentialed. But even so-- I mean, I went to a Leaf game. I paid for a ticket, what? 10-- maybe 10, 12 years ago with my high school girlfriend, against the Florida Panthers, and they lost 2 to 1.
And I told myself-- because it was so boring; the game was so irrelevant-- I told myself I would never pay for a ticket again because it's not worth it paying all this money for something that is better on TV. But if it is a great team and a great atmosphere, it is worth it. And what makes that atmosphere is not people that can afford to go to all these games and not care if it's a dud, like that Florida Panthers game was. It's rich people, and rich people are not as boisterous as the people that are going to these Colorado Avalanche games right now. And maybe they are spending a pretty penny. Maybe the economy is booming in Denver right now, and all the young people have the money.
But I just feel like that's the sort of model you want, where it's accessible to young people. They can change the game. They can have control of what the atmosphere looks and feels like. And that's just not something you're going to get in every NHL market. If you want to be an NHL market that is-- or an NHL franchise that is hitting it on all cylinders, you need to make the game more accessible, and you need to make the atmosphere better.
And again, that's not a problem that some franchises can fix, but it's something that others can look at in Colorado being like, OK, they're the model franchise in more ways than one. How do we get that team? How do we get that atmosphere? That's what everybody should be striving for.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: OK, three things. One-- when you started talking about rich people, I was thinking this conversation was bordering on an "eat the rich" conversation, which-- I don't know if you want to talk about all this podcast.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: The second point-- the last time I went to a Canadiens game, just in attendance, was also with the significant other I was with at the time against the Florida Panthers--
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: [LAUGHS]
JULIAN MCKENZIE: --except the Canadiens actually won that game. And it was not a dud.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Was it awful? It wasn't a dud?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: It was, like, a blowout win for the Canadiens, actually. It was--
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Hey, Bell Centre does have an atmosphere. So I should have been actually a little bit more careful--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Oh, come on.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Because I have never been there, and I want to go there badly.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Oh, dude.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: But it is better than Toronto. I shouldn't have lumped those two together. Toronto is completely different.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: That's fair because, even through this terrible season, as it was for the Canadiens, there were so many moments where the electricity in the Bell Centre was still being felt, even in a losing season. Whenever the Canadiens were doing something that was remotely good, people just kind of hopped on that. I still will put their atmosphere against anybody's.
But just looking at how Colorado has looked, like, I don't think it's that controversial to say, right now, among all the Stanley Cup playoff teams, their fans are the best of anyone so far. And I see all these other markets who use the postseason as an opportunity to kind of big up their fans, and people, like, you in Carolina, saying like, yeah, our guys are good with the storm surge and all that. But Colorado man-- I mean, if you're a Ball Arena guy, like you-- or a person, just in that arena, man, you can lay claim to being among some of the best fans in the league right now.
The third thing I want to bring up-- you want to be like the Colorado Avalanche. And if you're a GM-- if you're any other GM in the league right now and you want to beat-- and you want to beat the Colorado Avalanche, good luck because you need the high quality talent at almost every position. But it's at least something--
I'm glad if you're going to try to be that ambitious. I'm glad that we're looking at-- if we're in a copycat league, as we always say that we are with the National Hockey League, that you want to embody a team that is always on the puck, has a deadly transition game, one of the fastest teams you could see in the National Hockey League and have high quality talent, as opposed to just hoping and praying that putting tape at different points on your team and hoping you have a really good goaltender can put you through to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
If everybody wants to be on the level of the Colorado Avalanche-- even the Tampa Bay Lightning, to a certain extent as well, but especially if you want to be on the level of a Colorado Avalanche, it should only mean good things going forward for how the NHL should look.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah. It's a tall task, though. It's a tall task. To get the roster is one thing. But if you're just looking for atmosphere, just playing the right music is kind of a thing that can help. God loved "Cotton-Eyed Joe," but--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: [LAUGHS]
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I don't know if we need to hear that ever again in an NHL arena and expect it to hit like "All the Small Things" or all these other songs. You mentioned Carolina. They play great music at, I think, PNC? I think it's PNC?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah. Yeah, they play--
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: They play awesome music. And it gets people fired up.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: They play Petey Pablo. Yeah--
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Petey Pablo's their goal song, right? And they're playing, like, Nelly, Murphy Lee-- like, everyone's rocking. It's great. You have to play to the crowd to a certain extent.
And the Leafs-- it's like, OK, we're going to jam history down your throat, and we're going to play the hockey song during the second-- at a point in the second period. It's just so telegraphed, all the way. And I get that's because you see it all the time. But it should be a party atmosphere. It shouldn't be a nervous energy. It should be fun.
And Colorado's is cheering. When they've coughed up a lead, they don't care. They just keep going because they're drinking beers; they're partying; they're enjoying the music. It's an entertainment opportunity. That's what it should be. Colorado's set the pace for everything.