DENVER — They've got you. Got you by the toes. It's you, not them, who's left dangling here.

Altitude TV’s got you. That’s for sure. Thursday night, a scalper posted up across Chopper Circle sold a pair of lower-bowl seats for $150 a pop, no big deal. Upstairs in Pepsi Center, Avalanche sweaters flew off the rack at $100. One slice of Marco’s went for $9. Cheese, no pepperoni.

And folks pay it, because it's the Avs, and it's the Nuggets, and both are on the way up.

The Big 3’s got you, too. Comcast, DISH, DirecTV. They’ve got you. My Comcast bill for August was $130. (Sheesh, that tickles.) Probably watched a dozen Rockies losses, Seasons 1 and 2 of Succession, couple fishing shows on networks low on the dial, not much else. But they’ve got us. Got us good.

Neither side in this Altitude TV vs. Comcast/DISH/DirecTV battle is losing. It’s billionaires vs. billionaires, and Colorado sports fans are the collateral damage. The big losers here are the dedicated Avalanche fanatics who couldn’t afford $150 a seat, couldn’t afford a pizza slice for $9, couldn’t afford to be in the house to watch the Avalanche put on a show in a 5-3 season-opening win against the Flames.

And it was a show. The Avalanche power play is the best show in Colorado sports at the moment, and the top line of Gabe Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen averages 24 years of age. The Avs are just getting started on a championship window that's suddenly open.

Goaltending's a worry, mostly because Philipp Grubauer isn't a name who's done it before. But he was rock solid during Calgary's third-period onslaught. 

The Avs had two goals in the first period and hit a post twice more. Their firepower is illegal in some states, except on the Fourth of July or in Wyoming. The goal that took the top off the Pepsi Center was an assist from MacKinnon that fell gently on Rantanen’s stick. Boom, goal.

Action hockey is back at The Can. Problem is, most of Colorado must be in The Can to see it.

Bummer.

This television impasse comes at a time when the Avs and Nuggets could have their first wins before the Broncos get theirs. That would be a first. The Broncos are 0-4. They’ve never started 0-5. The Nuggets tip off on Oct. 23 — after the Broncos play the Chargers, Titans and Chiefs. 

Talk about a lost opportunity for the Avs and Nuggets to borrow the spotlight for a few months, if this blackout doesn’t get figured out.

Over at Altitude TV, there is little optimism the two sides are close to an agreement. They’re nervous. Nobody there knows when the blackout will give. If anyone thinks Stan Kroenke, who owns Altitude TV, is going to back down from a business confrontation and walk out the door with his tail between his legs, there’s an NFL team in St. Louis you should purchase.

During Thursday's game, the Avalanche ran a Jumbotron message imploring fans to lobby the three TV companies to #DontBlockMyAvs. The athletes themselves are out of the loop, but they’re bummed that the start of a golden era isn’t visible to all. One Nuggets player learned of the dispute from an Altitude billboard while he played 18 holes at a Denver-area golf course.

“We can only control what we can control here, and that’s getting our guys ready to hopefully have a great start to the start of the year,” Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said.

The whole thing’s a huge bummer, a slap in the face to hockey and basketball fanatics who’ve waited 10 years (for the Nuggets) and 15 years (for the Avalanche) to see a pair of teams this loaded for bear. They’ve never been this good at the same time. When the Sakic-Forsberg-Roy Avalanche was skating for Stanley Cups, the Nuggets were drafting Tony Battie and Raef LaFrentz early in the first round. When the Carmelo Anthony Nuggets finally were advancing deep into the playoffs, the Avalanche missed the playoffs six times in seven years. Last spring was the first time both teams advanced past the first round of their respective postseasons in the same year. This is all new.

This is the one time you don't leave fans dangling, and Coloradans with Comcast, DirecTV or DISH Network can't see them on the tube.

Figure it out already. One game's enough.

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at paul.klee@gazette.com or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

Load comments