Here’s Why Seattle Fans Don’t Want To Cheer On Colorado In The Stanley Cup Final

NHL from the inside

It amazed me that day that there could be a group of Sonics fans watching their first Stanley Cup Final, unaware of the facts that go against their moral code and their deep-rooted interest.

After all, the Colorado Avalanche, who leads the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in a Best of Seven interference in Game 4 on Wednesday night, is the NHL equivalent of the Oklahoma City Thunder. And any Sonics fans rooting for Avs to dethrone the two-time Cup champ should know that there is still a fan base in Quebec City that feels exactly the way they do.

Just as the Sonics did at Leaving when they couldn’t get a new taxpayer-funded arena, Quebec Nordic did the same in 1995 when owner Marcel Abbott got tired of playing in the old Colisee and sold his band to its Denver-based owners.

In fact, if Avalanche wins the series, it will be the first time the franchise has won a trophy minus Nordic players.

It raises the question of transferring teams and at what point is it really enough to hold grudges. After all, do Colorado fans still envy the New Jersey Devils for pulling the Rockies franchise out of Denver in 1982? Yes that’s right. Long before the Rockies turned into the Colorado baseball team, there was a short-lived NHL team with that name that moved to Denver in 1976 after two awful seasons as the Kansas City team.

The Rockies have previously used hockey majors such as Barry Beck, Wilf Paiement, and Don Cherry. They even bred Merlin “The Wizard” Malinowski, the hockey answer to Mendoza’s streak in baseball.

Then they left for New Jersey. So are the demons now envious in Denver?

Well, I don’t think so. They have an avalanche now.

Well, let’s try the Dallas Stars. Do Minnesota North Stars fans feel hostile to the robbery of their team in 1993? Well, the expansion into the Minnesota Wild probably eased that pain about 20 years ago.

And besides, just like Denver and Nordics, the North Stars had already “stolen” the old California gold seals, albeit indirectly. The Seals was moved to Ohio by its owners, the Gund brothers, as the Cleveland Barons in 1976, only two years later in a “merger” with the North Stars before they moved to Dallas.

You don’t see former SEALs fans now yelling profanity at the Lone Star State, do you?

Perhaps because the Bay Area brought back a team three decades ago with the San Jose Sharks. And yes, Sonics fans, this team was “robbed” too. From Minnesota, no less. Timid? You should have seen the NHL fans when that happened.

Apparently the Gund brothers never got past the pull of seals from the Bay Area and wanted to put another team there. So they struck a deal that had them sell the North Stars and acquire the rights to an expansion team in San Jose. As part of the deal, they would be allowed to take a fair portion of the North Stars roster with them to the Sharks and they did.

Meanwhile, the new owners of the now depleted North Stars, who had been looking to move on from the start, took what was left of the team and headed to Dallas.

So yes, there is a lot of banditry going on by NHL cities, followed by a whole host of appeasement.

I’m not sure it fits with what happened to Sonics, or Avalanc…er, Nordiques. No, the two fan bases are in their respective leagues.

Sonics fans like to think they had a hard time seeing Kevin Durant and the company as title contenders fairly early in the Thunder era. But that was nothing compared to the immediate misery suffered by Nordic fans when Avalanche won the cup in their inaugural transfer season.

The preliminary tournament roster included those that imported Nordic Joe Sakic, Owen Nolan, Peter Forsberg, Adam Foot, Valerie Kaminsky, Adam Deadmarsh, Mike Ritchie and Scott Young, among others.

As if that wasn’t bad enough for Quebec fans, the Avs that season got two former trophy winners from down the regional highway in Montreal. They landed Claude Lemieux and Hall of Fame guard Patrick Roy, who backed Colorado for the title this season and another in 2001.

The second avalanche title winner still has stockholders in Nordic Sakic, Forsberg, Deadmarsh and Vote.

Even today, with Nordic not on the list, Sakic remains the team’s general manager. And former Nordic defensive man Curtis Lischen, part of the inaugural Colorado title in 1996, is now a professional avalanche scout.

Nordic’s roster is still completely empty now, starting with superstar Cal Makar, who on Tuesday night deservedly won the James Norris Award as the best defender in the league. It looked like it was a short streak before the Lightning rebounded to claim a 6-2 win in Game Three. Hopefully they make a series of it so far.

But should any Sonics fans here in Seattle root for Avs?

With grudges and back to our first question, it seems easier to forget about it once you have something new on hand. But unlike many NHL markets that lost and then got teams back, no one has replaced the Sonics with another NBA franchise 14 years after they left.

Sadly, it’s been 27 years since Nordic left for Denver, and no one has replaced them. Heck, even the Winnipeg Jets were allowed to rob the Atlanta team about 15 years after the original “Jets” were flown to Phoenix, where they are now the Arizona Wolves.

Atlanta acquired the Thrashers about 19 years after the Flames moved from that city to Calgary, Alberta.

Quebec City even built a new NHL circuit seven years ago in anticipation of securing an expansion team to replace the Nordiques.

But the NHL turned down Quebec’s expansion offer in July 2015. Instead, he gave a team to Las Vegas, then waited another three years for Seattle to complete the ring deal before awarding a franchise we now know as Kraken.

That’s right, even our city that drained the Sonics had a team before Quebec City. If anyone owed that city some solidarity, you would think it would be that solidarity.

But professional sport, as we’ve seen, is a messy business. and harsh.

I’m not about to tell Sonic fans who their cheers are for. Part of me is just glad they have a new winter pro team to follow while waiting for the inevitable return of the NBA team.

Once that team arrives, the dark history of the past decade and a half will likely fade just as it has in countless other sports markets that have since lost and regained.