From the ’90s into the naughts, the rivalry between Detroit and Colorado was one of the most rancorous in sports. Not only did the players legitimately, personally dislike each other, but the teams were consistently both at the top of the Western Conference, repeatedly facing each other for stakes.
The last of the real hostilities were over when the Red Wings blanked the Avs in games six and seven of the 2002 Western Conference Finals, but — for some fans — grudges simmer forever. The above-linked video is a glorious testament to the abiding resentment Avs Nation still felt for some of the main characters in the drama.
It shows the introductions of the Red Wings’ old-timers squad in advance of the NHL Stadium Series Alumni Game at Coors Field in 2016. The crowd, more than 43,000 Coloradans, is salty. They boo everybody. When his name is called, Chris Chelios boos mockingly along with the fans. It’s great.
In 2016, it had been almost 20 years since Darren McCarty earned his special disdain from Avs fans, for retributively pummeling a turtling Claude Lemieux. But the crowd jeers him like it happened earlier the same day! McCarty loves it. He salutes in four directions as the boos pour down from the stands in (forgive me) an avalanche of animosity. Just terrific stuff.
Five stars, would watch again.
After the game, the Detroit Free Press reported “a message on the video board read ‘Thanks for the memories.’ The crowd gave a standing ovation and all of the players on the ice raised their sticks in acknowledgement. Colorado fans then broke out into a ‘Red Wings suck’ chant.”