Ryan Clark can live with being banned from Avalanche home games right now. Because, dang it, The Lord and Cale Makar as his witnesses, he’d do it again. Stanley Cup and all. In a heartbeat.
“I told myself at the time, ‘This is gonna (stink) if they make the playoffs,’” Clark laughed from his home in Arvada, where he’s watched the best six months of Avs hockey in a generation play out from a distance.
“But when someone asked me, ‘Where do you think Kyle is now?’ I told them, ‘That Zamboni spread his (backside) all over this ice. And he is embedded into this ice for the remainder (of the season).’”
Kyle is Kyle Wayne Stark. Ryan and Kyle were close friends, the best of pals, for more than a dozen years until the latter’s sudden death last Dec. 21. They were brothers in burgundy and blue, even going in on Avs season tickets together two years ago.
It takes a village to lift a Cup. It takes Makar, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabe Landeskog, hockey ninjas on a mission. It takes Colorado general manager Super Joe Sakic working the trade deadline the way Igor Stravinsky worked a piano. It takes somebody different picking up the rope every night.
Ask Clark, though, and he’ll tell you it took a little bit of Kyle, too. That his friends’ ashes are still a part of that ice, still a part of those boards, still a part of the story. That the Avs’ flight to Cup glory has come, in part, on cherub’s wings.
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