Colorado Avalanche: The Sound of Silence

Pepsi Center after the last Colorado Avalanche game of the season. Photo credit: Nadia Archuleta
Pepsi Center after the last Colorado Avalanche game of the season. Photo credit: Nadia Archuleta /

The Colorado Avalanche season is over — a melancholy look at the disappointing end of the 2015-16 season.

We all hate to see the end of a season in which our team doesn’t make the playoffs. Unfortunately, that’s happened for Colorado Avalanche fans all too often. Avalanche fans have a reason to be especially let down at the end of the season — the team goes into radio silence.

A lot of other NHL teams conduct locker clean out interviews. This is a bittersweet moment for the fans to see their favorite players one last time before the long spring and summer. This is not the Colorado Avalanche’s habit.

So, in a truly melancholy vein, here’s the latest of my, shall we say, creative mash-ups, a view of the end of the Colorado Avalanche season through the eyes of Disturbed’s remake of “The Sound of Silence:”

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains within the sound of silence.

This year’s ending has been especially painful. While Avalanche GM Joe Sakic has confirmed that Patrick Roy will return as head coach, everything else is up in the air. Whatever was the last Colorado Avalanche game you watched, it’s a certainty it was the last time you’ll see at least some players in burgundy and blue. That’s true every season, though.

What’s unsettling is that management may deal a core player or two in the off-season. These players are fan favorites, and thinking one of them may have skated his last game in an Avalanche uniform is heart-rending.

Imagining Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Barrie or, especially, Matt Duchene skating for a team other than the Colorado Avalanche — well, darkness would definitely be preferable.

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp

When my eyes were stabbed
By the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence.”

Pepsi Center — I attended 19 Colorado Avalanche games there this season, sometimes two or three a week. That’s more than I’ve attended in any other single year.

Obviously I wasn’t alone, but it felt that way when I’d see the arena overrun with opponent fans. It felt that way when I’d look around and see blocks of empty seats. It felt that way as I watched the third-period collapse in the game-opener, the whole-game collapse later against the Wild. The final game of the season when I sat in my seat staring ahead because I was so mad at the players I didn’t even want to watch the game.

This season certainly was a restless one for attending Colorado Avalanche games at the Pepsi Center.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening.”

In this context, 10,000 is a lot. However, I think of the naked truth that, in the Pepsi Center on Colorado Avalanche game nights, 10,000 is about the number of Avs fans in attendance. The arena can hold 18,000 for Avalanche games.

We all know that in the glory days it was different. Not only was the Pepsi Center filled to capacity, but it was mostly with Avalanche fans. I well remember how hard it was to get Avs tickets — and how expensive they were.

However, the last two lines of that stanza remind me of how exhilarating it is to attend games at the Pepsi Center. I guess it’s not really in keeping with the song’s melancholy tone, but the in-game entertainment has been well-designed to whip up the fervor of the crowd.

People writing songs
That voices never share
And no one dare
Disturb the sound of silence.

‘Fools’ said I, ‘you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows‘.’

I wrote last season about my disappointment in Avalanche fans booing the team. I never really booed the team this season, even if those awful games I mention above. I may have booed a little under my breath, though. Lots of other fans booed, and I treated the situation with apathy.

And then the silence did grow. In addition to those seats that started out empty, more got emptied as it became obvious the team was blowing another game. I got up and walked to the end of my aisle a couple times, but I never left.

But I sat silently in my seat a lot of times. I sat silently when the Colorado Avalanche players scored meaningless goals in the final game of the season. A lot of us did.
“‘Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you’
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

The teaching was there. I attended practices. I heard about the different systems. However, coach Roy’s words were the silent raindrops.

I know the players were reaching. I know they weren’t apathetic jerks just looking for a payday. They genuinely wanted to be better. They just didn’t have it in them to do it.

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made.”

The Colorado Avalanche have become our own neon god in Avs Nation.

We have created a culture of idolatry with sports, and I fully recognize I’m right there with the other acolytes. It’s not just that we worship the people who exemplify the sport — we revel in the sport itself.

I know plenty of Avalanche fans whose mood lives and dies according to how the team does. We have entered a civil war of blaming the coaches vs blaming the players. We scream and cry and rant over this team — over this neon god.

Yet it’s our passion. We love our team.
“And the sign flashed out its warning
And the words that it was forming.

And the sign said
‘The words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls’
And whispered in the sound of silence.”

The Colorado Avalanche are our team, and we love them — neon gods or not. Loneliness in the crowd of Pepsi Center, civil war, rants and tears — these things hurt us.

Next: Avs Season Limps to an End

Obviously the feeling of camaraderie and vicarious glory keep us coming back. As a Colorado Avalanche fan, we’re part of the proud few who support a team even when they’re not winning.

That’s why this silence hurts. We go for months with daily inundations of news and editorials about the team we love. And then… the sound of silence.