2 Denver teams sit in mourning

Avalanche, Rockies postpone games after shooting deaths

April 22, 1999

DENVER -- In a city mourning the shooting deaths of students at a suburban high school, the Colorado Avalanche yesterday postponed its opening two NHL playoff games and the Colorado Rockies called off a second straight baseball game.

Citing ownership sentiment that "we have to act like all these kids are our kids," Avalanche general manager Pierre Lacroix said his team and the San Jose Sharks will not play the first two games of their best-of-7 series last night and tonight here as scheduled.

Instead, the series will open on Saturday in San Jose, which originally was to be Game 3.

Game 2 will be in San Jose on Monday, with the series shifting to Denver for games on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of that week. Game 6, if necessary, would be the following Monday in San Jose, and Game 7 would be back in Denver -- on a date yet to be determined.

"It's our way to show respect to the community for this tragic situation," Lacroix said. "I want to express on behalf of the Avalanche our support to the families and express how sorry we feel for all of them. Our prayers are with them."

Lacroix said he began discussing scheduling alternatives with owner Charlie Lyons and NHL officials on Tuesday night, just hours after the extent of the shooting, which left 15 dead and two dozen injured, became known.

"I had a conversation with Charlie Lyons and his reaction was that we are close to this community and we have to act like all these kids are our kids," Lacroix said. "With the support of the San Jose Sharks organization, we agreed to start the series in San Jose."

Although the Avalanche still would be host of four games of the seven-game series, the sometimes pivotal first two games will be staged in San Jose instead of Denver.

Sharks general manager Dean Lombardi agreed with the decision to reschedule.

"I don't think there's any way we could have played [last night]," he said. "From what I understand, the bodies are still in there [the school]. We talked about starting Thursday night, and we threw that out. I don't see how you could play here on Saturday either."

McNichols Arena is unavailable tomorrow because of a Nuggets game.

"I think there's enough time for both teams to adjust," Lombardi said.

Avalanche forward Claude Lemieux wondered aloud if playing the games as scheduled "might have provided some distraction and helped more than just offering our prayers and thoughts. I don't know."

Lemieux, who lives 20 minutes from the school, said "the more they were showing on TV, the more faces I would recognize. I went to pick up my car [Tuesday], and the service manager said his daughter was at the school. Everybody was terrified."

At Coors Field, the Rockies postponed yesterday's game against Montreal, just as it had postponed Tuesday's. The teams will play two split doubleheaders when the Expos return to Denver on Aug. 13-15.

"We are deeply saddened by the events in Littleton yesterday, and now is not the time to play baseball," Rockies vice chairman Charlie Monfort said.

Called off

Some pro sports postponements due to tragedy:

April 20, 1999: Columbine high school shootings in Littleton, Colo. -- MLB: 2 games. NBA: 1 game. NHL: 2 games.

April 2, 1996: Umpire John McSherry death -- MLB: 1 game.

Jan. 17, 1994: Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles -- NBA: 1 game.

April 30, 1992: Los Angeles race riots -- NBA: 2 games. MLB: 4 games.

October 17, 1989: San Francisco earthquake -- World Series: 1 game.

Jan. 17, 1989: Miami race riots -- NBA: 1 game.

Oct. 13, 1971: Stafford Smythe death, president of the Maple Leafs -- NHL: 1 game.

November 1963: President Kennedy assassination -- NBA: 3 games. American Football League: 5 games. NHL: 1 game.

Feb. 6, 1952: King George VI death -- NHL: 1 game in Toronto.

1919 Stanley Cup: With the series tied 2-2 between the Montreal Canadiens and Seattle Metropolitans the series was canceled due to a flu epidemic that killed 30 million people worldwide.

Pub Date: 4/22/99

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