Avalanche Throwback Thursday: Rocky Mountain Extreme


Colorado Avalanche fans — or should I say, Extreme fans? Our Colorado Avalanche almost went by the name Rocky Mountain Extremes.

This summer marks the 20-year anniversary of the NHL coming back to Colorado. COMSAT Entertainment bought the financially struggling Quebec Nordiques franchise and relocated the team to the Rocky Mountains — Denver, Colorado, specifically.

Early Team Name Questions

Ask the Phoenix, er, Arizona Coyotes the difficulty of deciding what’s going to be the locale name for your team. Colorado lays claim to six professional sports teams, but two of them only lay claim to Denver — the Denver Broncos and Denver Nuggets. (Both are wildly popular outside of Denver, of course, but technically they’re Denver teams. Ask the L.A., er, Oakland Raiders how that works.)

When COMSAT decided to relocate the team to Denver, the entertainment group had to choose a new name. The Quebec part of Quebec Nordiques was brilliant because, while it really was just a city name, it sort of looked like a territory name. The team wasn’t moving to Colorado Springs, though, so that wasn’t going to work out again.

Besides the obvious choices — Denver vs. Colorado — COMSAT also flirted with the idea of identifying regionally, or Rocky Mountain. With that designation, the team could belong to anyone from Calgary on down to New Mexico.

Indeed, it was the fact of the team being located in the Rocky Mountains that most enamored then-owner Charlie Lyons, a skiing enthusiast who loved the Rocky Mountains.

Adrian Dater Gets Scooped

Back in the 1990s, newspaper wars were a real deal. You couldn’t just get your news from the internet — you had to open up a real paper and read it.

Back then, Denver had two newspapers, the Denver Post and the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News (which was my newspaper of choice). Former Avalanche beat writer Adrian Dater worked for the Denver Post.

According to a memoir article Dater published, he learned from sources that COMSAT intended to call its new team the Rocky Mountain Extreme. Like any newspaper reporter with a scoop, he published the story. The Rocky Mountain News did not publish the story, and it looked like Dater had the scoop of the summer.

The next day — and for weeks after, according to Dater — the Rocky Mountain News published stories and commentary related to the fact that the team most certainly was not going to be called Rocky Mountain Extreme. And, as we now know, that is true.

Fans Hate the Extreme

Blame — or thank, depending on your view — Dave Logan of KOA radio. Locan naturally broadcast the story. According to Dater, Logan then fielded “call after call” from hockey fans hating on the team name.

Now, here I have to go conspiracy theory for a moment. Did someone at COMSAT perhaps leak the news to Dater for that very purpose — to check out the viability of, ahem, and extreme name? If so, boy did they ever make Adrian Dater their patsy.

That said, I wonder why fans hated the name so much. I actually didn’t listen to the talk show at the time, so I never heard about the Rocky Mountain Extreme (until now). I’m in love with my team, the Colorado Avalanche, so another name doesn’t bear thinking about. However, about that time there were pamphlets printed — and shredded, I imagine — with “Hockey — Extreme Caution” as the slogan. That’s kind of cool.

However, extreme is an adjective — you know, same way wild is. Plus, I like that the team belongs to all of Colorado, not just Denver and not to other Rocky Mountain regions. Likewise, the logo was really childish looking.

In the end, it’s better the team went with Avalanche. Anyway, you need to proceed with “extreme caution” when in an avalanche zone as well.

Next: Colorado Avalanche Celebrate 20 Years

More from Mile High Sticking