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Gimme the disk. Gimme the biscuit. I wanna go top shelf. I
wanna go five hole. I wanna be on Hockey Night in Canada and
have somebody say to me, "Keep it goin', eh?"

Are you kiddin' me? The Colorado Avalanche has always been my
team! I was there from the beginning! Well, O.K., the beginning
of the second-round playoff series with Chicago, but look at me
now! I'm a regular Avalanche Flake! I've bet the ranch on the
'Lanche! I've come down with a horrible case of the Uwe Krupp!
Telling you, when our guys get in one of those sure-handed
situations, don't even try to talk to me.

Yeah, we in Denver hear the people in the East saying we
don't deserve all this after only one season with the Avs. One
guy wrote in the Rocky Mountain News that we haven't suffered
enough, that we have no idea what we're watching, that we were
just lucky to get a team as good as the old Quebec Nordekes.
They make fun of us just because our governor, Roy Romer,
introduced our best player, Joe Sakic, as Joe Kasic one day and
that The Denver Post last week had a bit about Wayne Gretsky.

Well, those hockey blue bloods can kiss my butt end, because
they have no idea what we'd been through here. You want me to
list all the hockey teams we've suffered through since 1950?
O.K.--the Denver Falcons, the Denver Mavericks, the Denver
Invaders, the Denver Spurs, the Colorado Rockies, the Colorado
Flames, the Denver Rangers and the Denver Grizzlies. I
personally never went to any of their games, but I'm sure
somebody suffered!

We have just as much right as anybody else to go nuts at seeing
our guys floorchecking the hell out of somebody. Or to thrill at
our coach's riverboat gambler's style, like in the middle of a
game when he pulls our goalie to the bench while the puck is
live just to taunt the other team! And to have the 'Lanche pull
off a trade for the great Lemieux and see him make his comeback
after all his health problems, it's just so fantastique!

Man, it's great to have McNichols Madness going again. No more
sitting there year after year wondering if the Nuggets' Dikembe
Mutombo will ever master the difficult two-hand catch. Besides,
if you don't love the hockey, what else is there? I mean, have
you taken a look at the NBA playoffs this season? By the end of
last week there had already been six games won by 30 points or
more, 14 by 20 points or more. No series had gone seven games
and only one had gone six. Every play in the NBA is basically
feed it into someone like Shaq and watch him hurl two guys to
the side, dunk violently and film a commercial on the way back
downcourt. The hype has completely devoured the hoop, unless you
think Dennis Rodman's wearing the latest from Victoria's
Nightmare is good for the game.

Have you watched the hockey? Every game seems to go to double
overtime, with two guys dying at the blue line and somebody
winning it by stretching out parallel to the ice and flicking
the puck past a sprawled-out goaltender who will need the
hyperbaric chamber for three weeks right after the red light
goes on. The six-game Avs-Blackhawks series had four overtime
games, including one that went into double OT and one that went
triple, and they set up more than a few quadruple bypasses at
Denver General.

You gotta remember something: This city has never won a world
championship in any of the four major sports, and we've been
trying since 1960. At this point we would get behind a team led
by Mussolini if we thought there were a title in it.

No, sir. Denver might never be the same. The other day at a
charity auction, an autographed John Elway jersey sold for $600,
boxing gloves signed by Muhammad Ali went for $2,000 and a Joe
(Saks) Sakic jersey signed by all the Colorado players went for
$3,450. Six months ago, if you would have said a Saks would go
for $3,450, we would've figured you meant a designer original
down at the mall.

I don't even recognize myself anymore. I'm saving up for a
Zamboni. I'm looking for a summer home in Medicine Hat. I'm
shaving with a Lady Byng. I wanna torch my stick. I wanna kiss
the post. And to think I used to think a Stanley cup had
something to do with an athletic supporter and a drill.

I admit, I'm still learning. For instance, I'm having a little
trouble seeing the blue dot on the puck when I'm actually at the
games, but I'm picking it up on TV pretty easy, that's for sure.
And best of all: no Li'l Penny!

Sure, my friends and I here in Denver might be hanging on to the
tailpipe of the hockey bandwagon, but at least we're giving
something back to the game! For instance, we've even started a
fan club called The Av Ids (get it?) and at the beginning of
every meeting we chant our motto:

Man, woman, girl and boy
Must give thanks for Patrick Roy!

The third quarter belongs to us, suckers!

COLOR PHOTO: TIM DEFRISCO The Avs have lit up a city looking for a title. [Building with windows illuminated to form letter 'A']