The new guy in Burgundy & Blue can carry a tune, don’t you think?
“And you know, because they played our song, they won the Stanley Cup,” Mark Hoppus, lead singer of Blink-182, told reporters before the Avs raised their 2022 Stanley Cup championship banner at Ball Arena and got to work defending it.
“Every other team didn’t play our song. No Stanley Cup.”
Last spring, all the stars aligned. On Wednesday night, they were out at Ball Arena in force.
Wayne Gretzky wore a charcoal blazer. Joe Sakic wore a smile. Hoppus, decked out in a customized home Avs sweater, led the full house in a rendition of his band’s signature hit, “All The Small Things.”
Since 2019, it’s become the franchise’s unofficial anthem, a third period sing-along that’s become stitched into the Denver fan experience the way “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” is woven into Wrigley Field.
“It is such a huge deal for us,” Hoppus told Altitude’s Vic Lombardi.
Opening night felt like a rock concert, right from the jump. As the house lights dimmed and the players were introduced, fans held aloft alternating, sequential lights of red and blue.
The Avs spent roughly 30 minutes before the season-opener against Chicago giving the epic spring of 2022 one last kiss good-bye, with the 50-year-old Hoppus as the warm-up act, bouncing between the face-off circles like a kid half his age.
You know the words!#OpeningNight #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/clOAqIEk3Y
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) October 13, 2022
“Let’s make some noise!” the front man shouted into the microphone. “Congratulations! You did it!
“Thanks so much for taking our band along for the ride!”
But Lord Stanley, which followed Hoppus onto the ice, was the real star. The headliner.
Injured captain Gabe Landeskog skated over and lifted the Stanley Cup before the home faithful, giving the locals a victory lap they were denied last June. From the roar that shook the rafters, it was worth the wait.
To paraphrase an old light bulb joke, how many Avs staffers does it take to hoist a championship banner?
“I don’t know how many riggers they have on-site,” Camden Kelley, the Avs’ director of game presentation, recalled earlier in the night. “On our side, we probably have 10 to 12 people that are kind of running around and directing and producing and doing all the behind-the-scenes stuff.
“We’re stage-managing the players on the bench … and then you’ve got all the stuff that’s associated with the actual banner going to its final resting place. There’s a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes, for sure.”
For one night at least, Kelley and his presentation crew were as much a part of the show — and the memories — as the players on the ice.
“We’re trying to capture the emotion and trying to capture the enthusiasm,” Kelley said. “We didn’t win (the Cup) at home. So we’re trying to recreate that (Game 5) atmosphere with the Cup, with the banner, and all those things, to give the fans that moment that they didn’t get to have (in June).”
Wednesday afternoon was the first time Kelley’s team got to practice with the 2022 banner. No hitches. No snags.
“We had lots of different thoughts of, ‘How do we want to get the banner to the rafters?’” Kelley recalled. “And threw a couple of different ideas around. This ended up making the most sense, obviously — having it out on a winch and having it (automated), so it goes smooth.”
They thought about having it hoisted physically, too. But what looks good in pirate movies doesn’t always translate into real life, and the ascent would likely have been herky-jerky and slow.
“You know, it’s one of those, where — it’s live entertainment, right?” Kelley laughed. “So we’re prepared for whatever happens and we pray that it all goes smooth.”
Opening night was for the guys who made sure the wires worked and the banner reached its destination. For the loyal Avs-vocates in the upper deck. For fathers and sons.
For Jared Pehrson of Lakewood, a season-ticket holder for a decade now, who brought baby son Mateo — born last February, on 2/2/22 — to his first Avalanche game, complete with two sets of headphones for the baby’s ear protection.
“I always thought he was a good luck charm, because he was born as the Avs were kind of picking up steam,” Jared said. “And kind of did well.”
Pehrson was the guy with the red beard behind the NHL on TNT’s pregame stage with the sign that read “FUTURE AVS PLAYER,” with baby pictures pasted on either side of the message.
Mateo probably won’t remember the banner. Or Mark Hoppus. Or the noise. But dad? Dad won’t forget. Ever.
“I do plan on kind of writing, ‘(His) first memories,’ taking pictures and kind of sharing what the Avs did, and what they achieved the first part of his life, where they achieved so much that they hadn’t in 20 years.
“And I don’t know — they might not do it (again) this year. They might not do it (again) for another 20 years. So by the time that occurs again, he could be at drinking age. You just try to cherish these moments and cherish sharing them with your family and sharing then with your kids as much as you can.”
It really is about the small things, isn’t it?
“I have notes on some of the people singing in the crowd,” Hoppus cracked before the game, offering up a playful smirk. “A little pitchy.”
Say it ain’t so!
Like the song goes, turn the lights off, carry us home. To Titletown, where the pitch might not be perfect. But the hockey is pretty dang close.