Those fortunate enough to gain access to social media while stuck in hourslong gridlock leaving the Stadium Series on Saturday (or those who left a bit early to beat the traffic) likely came across an incredible video posted by the NHL after the game that night.
The league’s media extraordinaires captured a video from a cockpit during one of the flyovers conducted by the United States Air Force before the game — a truly remarkable tradition usually reserved for Falcons football.
Fighter planes can be seen zooming past a glowing Falcon Stadium, packed with hockey fans eager to watch the outdoor bout between the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings.
Also visible in the video, though, is the mileslong string of cars in both directions of Interstate 25 trying to squeeze into the parking lot.
Thousands of fans among the sellout crowd of 43,574 missed good chunks of the prime-time event, with some not accessing the stadium until the third period.
Now starts the blame game.
Upset eventgoers took to social media to espouse their displeasures about the traffic while also wielding complaints of concession stands running out of beer and food.
The league and academy pushed back with a statement on Sunday, saying “multiple efforts” were made to “warn attendees about potential traffic delays” and that unforeseen circumstances — including emergency pothole repairs — impacted the flow of traffic.
Per the statement:
While we regret the unfortunate circumstances experienced by some fans, a near-capacity crowd was in their seats at the start of an exciting night of hockey. We appreciate the efforts of fans who planned ahead and arrived early and most were able to enjoy a fantastic evening with multiple flyovers and musical performances that highlighted the competitive spirit of the NHL, the history and culture of the Academy, and the milestone achievements of USA Hockey.
But, how did things shake out on the ice?
OK, fine. Whatever. Crowded highways and the apparent lack of amenities shouldn’t completely put a damper on an otherwise fun night, one in which the Avalanche easily handled the basement-dwelling Kings for a key Western Conference victo …
Oh. The Avs lost? Late in the third period?
Through Monday night’s overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Colorado ranks 21st in winning percentage with a lead after two periods (.818), 27th when trailing after two periods (.071) and 19th when it’s tied heading into the third period (.455).
These numbers show a few different things. First, the Avalanche have gone into the final period with a lead a league-high 33 times in 58 games. So, even with a below-average mark in terms of winning percentage when leading after two periods, Colorado still remains atop the NHL in overall standings.
Kudos are also in order for the Avs for playing in a league-low 25 games in which they trailed or were tied heading into the third period. But, Colorado loses (either in regulation or overtime) in that specific situation 70 percent of the time.
So, when the Avalanche and Kings turned toward the final period Saturday tied 1-1, it was as if the final nail had nearly been hammered in Colorado’s coffin.
(Thank goodness the Avs, who’ve scrounged up a measly four points in such situations, didn’t trail.)
So, what does it all mean?
In terms of the product on the ice, the Avalanche failed to show a national audience — tuning in for the premiere game of the week — that they belong in the mix late in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Away from the ice, what was supposed to be a marquee event for the region, the NHL, the Avalanche organization and the U.S. Air Force Academy ended a marred mess of traffic jams and angry hockey fans.
All in all, the flopped Stadium Series will go down as a black eye on the Colorado Avalanche organization, the NHL and the region itself.
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