In days gone by, it used to be the arrival of the Detroit Red Wings that would bring out the bellicosity of the Denver hockey fan, a rivalry that ironically started with a cheap hit by the Avs Claude Lemieux on the Wings Kris Draper. But that is no more, indeed as of Thursday night its ancient history. Thursday a fellow in a White uniform with a number 44 on it will step onto the ice at the Pepsi Centre and realize just what it feels like to be hated. On Thursday night, Todd Bertuzzi will take the title of Public Enemy Number One in Colorado.
Bertuzzi, makes his first appearance in Colorado since the infamous Steve Moore attack and if the stories coming out of Denver these days mean anything, the next three days are going to be uncomfortable ones for Bertuzzi.
In a strange quirk of scheduling fate, the Canucks are in Denver for two games early in the season, giving the Avalanche faithful much opportunity to vent their collective anger over 72 hours. The expected expressions of dissatisfaction with the return of Bertuzzi have even been noted on the Canucks website, which suggests that the team will have to concentrate on a rather dangerous offense, rather than the outrage of the fans.
Expect the NHL to advise the Avalanche to increase their security profile for the next few games, tensions are high in Denver, the more angrier of fans have been calling talk shows suggesting that Bertuzzi will not only hear catcalls, but be subjected to garbage and spittle as he takes to the ice.
With the NHL moving to a weighted divisional schedule this year, Bertuzzi had best hope that the Av fanbase get it all out of their system in the next couple of days. The Canucks will be frequent visitors to Colorado this year, only time will tell if each successive visit become uglier than the previous one.
Bertuzzi was quoted in a Detroit paper earlier this week as hoping to put the whole incident behind him as the season moves along, something tells me that is not going to happen anytime soon when the Canucks play in Denver.