Welcome to a return to something I used to do a few years ago. Basically, it’s a situation where I pull out a dusty old VCR tape of an Avalanche game from the past, hit play and do a running commentary. So, to answer one question right off the hop: Yes, I still own a VCR, yes it still works and, yes, I occasionally watch actual VHS tapes of stuff. For you kids out there, VCRs were an electronic box that weighed about 25 pounds and was always blinking “12:00” in the digital display because nobody could ever figure out how to set the clock on it. But you could stuff hard-bound plastic tapes into it, push a button or two and record whatever channel you had on. You could even program it to record stuff hours in advance, but only MIT math majors could figure that out, so otherwise you just hit a red “record” button and taped what was on the channel you had on. Then, at any time in the future, you could play back what you recorded. It was magic!

Many years ago, a gentleman who used to be the official timekeeper at Avalanche home games gifted me several boxes of VHS tapes of games. While he was at the games, his wife recorded them. There are hundreds of them in my basement. All perfectly labeled, year from year.

Occasionally, I have considered getting all the tapes transferred to DVD, and I have done that with some games. But the process is laborious. It would take hundreds of hours to get them all transferred. But if there is someone out there with a LOT of time on their hands who wants to do it, drop me a line and maybe we can work something out.

Anyway, here we go with a game from Nov. 13, 1998. It’s the Avs’ 14th game of the season and they aren’t doing so well. They come into the contest at 4-8-1. This is coach Bob Hartley’s first year on the job. The night before, the Avs traded Keith Jones to Philadelphia for Shjon Poden. Also the day before, the Avs signed Adam Foote and Jeff Odgers to new two-year contract extensions.

I’m going to start this off with a clip of Fox Sports Rocky Mountain announcers Marc Stout, Peter McNab and John Kelly talking about the Foote extension. In the clip, Kelly mentions “something in the paper” a couple weeks ago about Foote being unhappy with his contract. That something in the paper was a story by me, quoting Foote about how, indeed, he was unhappy with his contract and how this “probably” would be his last season in Colorado. His use of the media worked like a charm, as he got his new deal.

One note: The sound isn’t great on this tape. There is a noticeable hum. This was 1998 tech, after all.

A couple of pregame notes: The Lightning was a terrible team in 1998-99. This was the rookie year of Vincent Lecavalier, the player former Avs GM Pierre Lacroix offered all four of his team’s first-round picks in ’98 to get. to no avail. Wendel Clark was the team’s leading goal-scorer. Yes, Wendel Clark played for the Tampa Bay Lightning. You can look it up. Craig Janney played for this team. Stephane Richer and Alexander Daigle and Darcy Tucker and Chris Gratton and Mike “Suitcase” Sillinger played for this team. This team played SIX goalies in this season. As you’ll see from this game, there was a reason for this.

Here are your KeyBank three keys to the game. Did the Avs unlock the right keys? Let”s find out.

Fox Sports Rocky Mountain

FIRST PERIOD

First off, wow were those Lightning road jerseys awful. I’m not sure these were their “third” sweaters or what, but they are wearing a hideous combination of aqua blue, white and silver and they basically look worse than the pajamas I used to wear as a kid.

The goalies in this one are Patrick Roy vs. Daren Puppa, who had the unfortunate last name of “Puppa”, pronounced “Poopa.” He’s wearing No. 93. Is that the highest numeral ever worn by a goalie in NHL history? I’ll have to look that up later. But, Puppa came into this game on a five-game winning streak, while Roy’s stats to this point were 2-7-2, with a 3.15 GAA.

One observation about the first few minutes: Puppa was one of the last “standup” goalies. He did not play the butterfly. The Avs have already put a few shots on him, and essentially what he did was just block the shots with his fully vertical pads and watch the rebound dribble out. If a shot caused him to move side to side, he’s mostly just laying horizontally on the ice and trying to stack the pads for the save. How things have changed…

With Valeri Kamesnky sidelined for this game with an injury, we have a line here of Peter Forsberg, centering Claude Lemieux and Chris Drury. Man, are they already fun to watch. There was nobody like Foppa. He’s dominating every shift already.

SCORE! It’s 1-0 Avs not even four minutes into the game. Joe Sakic just beat Puppa with a puck that started off from a shot by Avs D-man Cam Russell. Super Joe tipped Russell’s shot into Puppa’s pads, but the rebound came bouncing back he just casually slipped it past him, as Puppa stacked the pads in futility. As always, Sakic barely acknowledges his feat. Teammates gather round to pat him on the helmet, but Quoteless Joe seems almost embarrassed at such an easy goal. Here’s your replay:

The Avs have a third line tonight of Stephane Yelle, Podein and Rene Corbet. I loved being around Corbie. He was just a fun, happy-go-lucky guy. One off-season, he actually won a $50,000 lottery in Quebec. Here’s a story I did about it, in another life.

Halfway through the period now, and Forsberg just set up Shean Donovan with a ridiculously great backhand saucer pass alone in front of Puppa. But as most always happened in Donovan’s brief tenure with the Avs, he failed to convert. Donovan remains the fastest skater I ever saw as an Av, however, even faster than Nathan MacKinnon.

Here’s the sequence right after the Forsberg setup of Donovan. Just watch Forsberg here. It’s ridiculous how great he was.

A Claude Lemieux goal was just disallowed after video review when it was determined Adam Deadmarsh had a skate in the blue paint. People forget this about the Dead Puck Era, but so many goals like this were disallowed because of this horrible rule at the time. Deadmarsh barely had a toe in the paint. It made no difference whatsoever in the goal happening, but it was disallowed because, rules are rules. We don’t have that rule anymore, thankfully.

SCORE! Deadmarsh just “atoned” for his “mistake” with a clean forehand shot past Puppa. It’s 2-0.

SCORE! It’s 3-0 now, with about six minutes to go in the period. Alexei Gusarov, on a delayed penalty, just beat Puppa clean with a slapper from the right circle. My god, is Puppa terrible tonight, but so are his teammates. The Lightning clearly are going to mail this one in, it looks like. Janney might be the laziest defensive player I’ve ever seen, based on this one tape. He’s literally just skating around like he’s in a game of shinny out there.

SCORE! It’s 4-0. Deadmarsh just batted in a puck out of midair, from a Forsberg cross pass. Lightning coach Jacques Demers just let his team have it, too, with a tongue-lashing that looked like it contained multiple cuss words.

The period ends at 4-0, despite about three more prime Avs scoring chances. Demers stalks off the ice like a man scorned. Remember, this game was in McNichols Sports Arena, where coaches had to walk across the ice to get to the bench. Coaches don’t have to do that anymore. All NHL arenas (I think) have tunnels right to the bench, so coaches just have to go from the locker room to the bench. No more walking gingerly across ice in patent leather shoes.

According to Fox Sports Rocky Mountain, the shots were 22-4 in favor of the Avs, with scoring chances at 8-0 for Colorado. That’s right, not one legitimate scoring chance for Tampa Bay in the period.

SECOND PERIOD

First, a screenshot from one of the 1998 ads on between periods. It’s for an oil-change company. Have you ever had a mechanic who looked as clean and handsome as this guy? Didn’t think so.

WE HAVE A CHANGE IN GOAL FOR TAMPA BAY. Bill Ranford (yes, Bill Ranford actually played for the Tampa Bay Lightning) has replaced Puppa in net, after Puppa’s stink-it-up performance. For you hockey historians out there, this would not be the only uniform in which Ranford would play against Colorado. In the spring of 1999, Ranford was traded to Detroit and he beat the Avs in the first two games of the ’99 Western Conference quarterfinals for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Wings. But the Avs blitzed him and the Wings starting with Game 3, sweeping the next four games to dethrone the Dead Things.

Speaking of ads, does anyone remember this old Stevinson Auto ad, featuring Joe Sakic?

Adam Foote, by the way, apparently was injured and couldn’t play this game (I have no memory of this, although I was covering the team that night) and he captured here watching the contest from the sidelines.

SCORE! It’s 5-0 Avs, as Forsberg just scored on a wrap-around wrist shot, after skating past the Lightning defense as if they were so many pylons in a cone zone. This is a power-play goal. Forsberg, like Sakic earlier, seems a little embarrassed at the ease of the goal. Everybody already seems a little bored and thinking ahead to their first glass of wine and steak dinner at the ChopHouse after the game.

That’s your only score of the period, so it’s a five-goal lead for the home club entering the third. Let’s see if they can hold on.

Our intermission ads includes those for KeyBank, a “Living the Blues” double-cassette or CD offer and Bowflex (remember Bowflex? Like, yeah right, you were going to get all big and buff spending $1,700 on a few cables and string. Does anyone still have a Bowflex?). There is also an ad for The Denver Post, featuring their “Press Pass” discount entertainment card. Remember The Denver Post?

Sakic is being interviewed by Stout, and he gives a classic Quoteless Joe few minutes of verbiage. Sakic, the classiest guy I ever dealt with, politely answers questions about how the Avs are doing at the moment (good tonight, not where we want to be overall on the season), recollections about his first-ever assist (it came on an Anton Stastny goal with Quebec, he says) and has general praise for the Lightning overall despite a 40-minute performance that has to rank among the worst in NHL history.

THIRD PERIOD

SCORE! It’s 6-0, a little more than a minute into the period. Forsberg scores his second of the night, after skating around a couple more Lightning pylons. I think the shots are about 65-8 by now, but I don’t have a New Dodge scorecard update. Wait a minute, here it is. The shots are just 31-12, with the scoring chances 12-3.

We’re officially already in garbage time. Remember that, Avs fans? Remember how the Avs would be so far ahead in the third period that absolutely nothing could change that? Didn’t think so.

The Avs kill off a Lightning power play, after Podein was sent to the sin bin for tripping Daymond Langkow. This apparently was the Avs’ 22nd straight kill.

We have an Alan Jackson Ford Truck ad after a stop in play. And, a Coors Light ad featuring two bros yelling into a mountain crevasse together. I miss the ’90s.

FIGHT! Jeff Odgers and David Wilkie just got into it. Odgie got the most punches in, but, as usually was the case, he lost the wrestling match to the ice. Wilkie is grimacing in the penalty box, covering his left hand in a bag of ice. Looking him up on Hockeydb.com, Wilkie would play 46 games for the Bolts that season, and only one more NHL game after that, with the New York Rangers in 2000-01.

SCORE! Drury makes it 7-0 with a power-play goal, a classic second-chance bid of his off his own rebound. Why did the Avs ever trade Chris Drury???????

SCORE! Darcy Tucker gets the Lightning on the board with 3:11 left, beating Roy to the top shelf, using Greg de Vries as a screen. Roy is pissed too. Chances are, he blamed Devo for that goal. Roy hated his defensemen trying to block shots too much, because of potential screens.

SCORE! Odgers scores with 1:57 left to make it 8-1, another power-play goal from a setup behind the net by Sakic. It’s Odgers’ first goal of the season. There wouldn’t be many more, but he did score big one in Game 5 of the ’99 playoff series against Detroit, which gave the Avs a 3-2 edge in the series.

AND THAT DOES IT. Your final score is Colorado 8, Tampa Bay 1, in a game that wasn’t as close as the score would make it seem.

I’m sure I covered this game for the paper, but I have only the foggiest recollections of actually being there. That’s what happens, probably, to guys in their 50s who watch old hockey games on VHS tapes.

Here are your 9News highlights from that night, featuring Kevin Corke. Remember Kevin Corke?

 

 

Adrian Dater

Adrian Dater is a staff writer with BSNDenver. He started his journalism career way, way back in 1988 as a proofreader with the Concord Monitor as a kid out of college (Keene State College), and has wended its way since with a 25-year stop at The Denver Post, 20 of which were spent as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche, from its inception in 1995. Adrian has also worked as a primary hockey writer with Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The Hockey News, Versus.com and Bleacher Report. He is the author of seven sports books, including the best-selling “Blood Feud: Colorado Avalanche v. Detroit Red Wings, The Inside Story of Pro Sports’ Nastiest and Best Rivalry of Its Era” and “100 Things Avalanche Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die”, which was published in October, 2016.