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15 years ago the Florida Panthers went on an improbable run to the Stanley Cup finals, against the Colorado Avalanche, who came to Colorado that year. I also didn't have cable TV to watch them. I ended up listening to Game 4 of the 1996 Stanley Cup finals on the radio in my parents basement. In fifteen years, a ton has changed. Tonight I listened to the game between the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers in my own basement tonight. So clearly, progress is being made (take that mainstream media!). I also sat for 1/2 the game, trying to watch a tiny a choppy feed on a laptop monitor while listening to the Avs radio feed, which was about 20 seconds ahead of the video feed. This is not the optimal way to watch Hockey, even when you connect said laptop to the 42" screen.

Tonight I'm pretty grateful that Stan Kroenke decided to take a bit of a chance and start a local broadcast network for his local empire. Avs fans give Avs marketing a lot of shit (and truthfully, they deserve a lot of it) and I'm sure Altitude is a different corporate entity altogether, but in the minds of fans they are the same thing. The promotional/broadcast wing of the Avs. And tonight was a reminder of exactly how far hockey has come in the Denver area, and how much we take the broadcasts for granted.

Even in comparable hockey markets, like San Jose, the local network is Fox sports (or Comcast sports). The SD quality is pretty bad, and most of the broadcast usually lacks a lot of polish. Altitude, on the other hand, has one of the most polished local broadcasts in all of hockey. Even with the homer announcers, who are clearly under orders to be positive and not say anything controversial.And, thanks to Altitude we get every single game on television. Well except one.

For one night I remember being in my room, late at night screaming early in the morning as Mike Haynes announced that Colorado Defenseman Uwe Krupp potted the game winner past Florida Goalie John Vanbiesbrook. It's a memory I'm perfectly happy waiting another 15 years for.