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Denver sports commentator trolls NHL, insults Avalanche fans

Hank Siegel is a sports commentator for FOX31 in Denver. He's the kind of columnist who posits a ridiculous theory for provocation ("Tebow better than Elway?"); or opines about some folksy, sub-Andy Rooney nonsense about how baseball's better than football because you can catch foul balls; or reaches out to Fox Studios to see if Tim Tebow can be in the next "Die Hard" film. That last one wasn't a joke.

Inventive provocateur that he is, Siegel turned his attention to the NHL and the Colorado Avalanche's hot start with predictable results:

Regular season hockey is like waiting for Christmas to come…and it's only July. The NFL's "Mr. Irrelevant" is more relevant than the NHL season. In fact, the NHL isn't very compelling until the winning team skates around with the Stanley Cup, and that's only because you're hoping one of the players drops it.

We briefly turn the mic over to Homer J. Simpson:

It actually gets dumber from here. And Avalanche fans are justifiably pissed, as the comments on the article can tell you.

Here are Siegel's theories about why there's a lack of interest in the NHL regular season:

The season is too long.

Well, here's the general problem: If I'm eating a giant plate of pasta, and it tastes as if it had been hand-rolled in Sicily and then cooked by a kindly grandmother, I probably don't mind the portion size, or the meal taking longer than other meals. I'd like to savor it.

But if you taste the same pasta and feel it tastes of a dog's anus, then we know three things: (a) that you probably would prefer the meal to be shorter; (b) that we have different tastes in Italian cuisine; and (c) that you, rather inexplicably, are familiar with a dog's anus on your palate.

Too many teams qualify for the playoffs.

It's a 30-team league in which 16 teams enter the postseason tournament. Same as the NBA, which is quite popular and apparently with which Siegel has no beef.

Nobody really understands when or why there's a stoppage in play.

Because "nobody" is apparently slow on the uptake or completely apathetic.

It's too difficult to appreciate on TV.

Well, you got us there.

Geographically-challenged Americans can't locate some of the cities on a map.

Actually, it was the Canadians who thought Denver was in Wyoming.

It's impossible to correctly pronounce the names of a significant number of the players.

This is the Colorado Avalanche roster. We'd give a 7-year-old a puncher's chance to get a "significant" number of names correct. Especially the ones that sound like a guy running a pub.

Look, this is trolling. It happens to the NHL every season, although it used to happen a lot more before the lockout's rules changes made the product better, the stars made it more compelling and everyone fawned over the Winter Classic.

But Siegel crossed over from folksy poking to flat-out offensive in the eyes of some Avalanche fans, because he was just so off-base.

R. Boulding of The Avalanche Guild, covering the Avs for a third season as a blogger, had read enough:

"The Colorado Avalanche are off to their best start in years—maybe ever—but I don't see throngs of reporters descending on the Pepsi Center to catch every word the comes off the tongue of Matt Duchene or Milan Hejduk, or local TV newscasts leading with news of their new goaltenders," wrote Siegel.

That's interesting because the presence of local journalists and news stations at Colorado Avalanche practice yesterday was surprising. Channel 9 News, Altitude Sports with both Kyle Keefe and Julie Browman, The Denver Post's Mike Chambers, and NHL.com's Rick Sadowski were among those in attendance for practice.

Meanwhile, Adrian Dater -also of The Denver Post — was on local radio, 102.3 The Ticket, talking Avalanche hockey. After practice and dutifully — and cheerfully — signing some autographs for the handful of fans outside the practice facility, rookie winger Gabriel Landeskog was on the same station talking about his early success in the NHL. Susie Wargin herself has been spotted at Family Sports Center to partake in the Avalanche media frenzy as well. Mile High Sports recently published a "hockey issue" of their magazine, filled with information and pictorials of the team. Oddly enough though, Fox 31 hasn't been seen sniffing around.

But really, the single-worst aspect of a terrible column by Siegel -- besides his decision to bring race into it at the end -- was this observation:

Although half the players are Canadian, only seven of the 30 teams are located to our northern neighbor and about 20-percent of the players are American.

Well, it's all the above but perhaps the last reason means most. We are very jingoistic when it comes to sports.

To sports, sure, but that's more about the origins of hockey and its place in American culture as a competitive community sport than the cultural and ethnic make-up of the NHL's players.

Because how simplistic, daft, short-sighted and just plain ignorant does a Denver-based journalist have to be to cite jingoism about foreign-born players as an obstacle for hockey's popularity, when a guy from British Columbia named Sakic and a Swedish guy named Forsberg were the catalysts for an 11-year sellout streak at Pepsi Center?

Guess we just found out.

s/t to PD Reader Ben for the tip.

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