March 7, 2023


The way I look at it, the Avalanche and Nuggets are leading the dual-ownership NHL-NBA standings by 8 1/2 games. And Stan Kroenke deserves considerable credit for it.

That takes some explaining.

There are four markets where NHL and NBA franchises operate under common ownership -- Denver, New York, Toronto and Washington. 


I've put together the combined standings below.       

I just came from watching the defending NHL champion Avalanche emphatically end their losing streak at three with a 6-0 rout of the San Jose Sharks at Ball Arena.

Three of the perhaps top dozen players in the NHL -- Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen -- were among the Colorado goal scorers. Makar had had the third 4-point game of his career, with a goal and 3 assists. He also was plus-5 as he got back in his rhythm in his third game following a two-week stay in concussion protocol.  


“I feel like everybody was rolling tonight," the 24-year-old defenseman said. "It’s fun when that happens because everyone is feeling it. I feel like every single line tonight was playing well, doing what they could to generate opportunities, and that’s ultimately what led to our success.”  


Nobody ridiculously accused Makar of stat padding. (Just kidding. Kind of.) The last time a Colorado D-man was a plus-5 was when Tyson Barrie did it on April 2, 2019 against Edmonton. Only Adam Foote -- with a plus-6 against the Sharks in December 1995 -- has surpassed plus-5 since the Nordiques moved to Denver.    


The Avs have been mercurial this season in the wake of the salary cap-dictated tinkering following the Stanley Cup celebration, and the moves at the trading deadline last week weren't as impactful as those of a year ago. But they're still only five points behind first-place Dallas in the Central Division, and just seven behind Pacific Division leaders Vegas and Los Angeles in the chase for the Pacific Conference's No. 1 seed. A slide down the stretch could leave the Avs out of the playoffs, but that's unlikely.   


At the other end of the spectrum, this team faces an uphill climb to repeat, but it's not an outlandish possibility.           


Meanwhile, the Nuggets pulled out an unlikely 118-113 win over Toronto Monday night, stretching their winning streak to four and leaving them with a 46-19 record going into a Wednesday home game against Chicago. They have a 7 1/2-game lead on Sacramento and Memphis in the Western Conference and Nikola Jokic is having another MVP-worthy season. (That's the case regardless of what anyone says in a transparent quest for clickbait/hot-take notoriety. And note I said "worthy": Sincere, basketball-based sentiment offered on behalf of Giannis Antetokounmpo or Joel Embiid as an MVP choice isn't out of line.) 


The point? Although the ongoing Comcast-Altitude squabble continues to confound and anger the franchises' fans, and perhaps affect the Kroenke Sports and Entertainment image to an unfair degree, there continues to be a lot to like about what Kroenke has done for the Colorado sports scene since buying the Nuggets, Avalanche and the arena in 2000.


The friendly family competition involving the Walton-Penner-Hobson-Rice-Hamilton Broncos ownership group and KSE -- Rob Walton and Stan's wife, Ann Walton Kroenke, are cousins -- has added to the intrigue. 


The Avalanche and Nuggets now are only part of the KSE empire, which also includes the Los Angeles Rams, the English Premier League's Arsenal FC, Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids, and the National Lacrosse League's 2022 champions, the Colorado Mammoth. (Ann Walton Kroenke for  a few years officially was the owner of the Nuggets and Avalanche because of since-modified NFL cross-ownership rules. The teams eventually went back under the KSE umbrella, with Stan as the Owner/Chairman.)   


Here's evidence that KSE is doing a lot right in Denver -- in the NHL and NBA, stacked up against larger markets.   



NOTE: NHL overtime or shootout losses are considerered losses here. In the NHL standings, for example, the Avalanche -- with 6 overtime or shootout losses --  officially are listed at 35-21-6. They're 35-27 here.)


Owner: Stan Kroenke (Kroenke Sports and Entertainment) 

NBA: Denver Nuggets         46-19

NHL: Colorado Avalanche    35-27

TOTAL: 81-46 


OWNER: James Dolan (Madison Square Garden Company)

NBA: New York Knicks        39-28

NHL: New York Rangers      35-28

TOTAL: 74-56 [8 1/2 games behind]  


Owner: Larry Tannenbaum (Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment)

NBA: Toronto Raptors         32-34

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs   39-25  

TOTAL: 71-59 [11 1/2 games behind]   


Owner: Ted Leonsis (Monumental Sports and Entertainment) 

NBA: Washington Wizards    31-34

NHL: Washington Capitals     31-34

TOTAL: 62-68 [20 1/2 games behind] 




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