January 11 2005, 9:43 AM
With the Broncos season over and the Nuggets not living up to the pre-season's very high expectations, now would be a good time for some pro hockey in Colorado. But the NHL owners' lockout of the players' union is still going on, and if Wayne Gretzky is to be believed (and he's an owner now, so take what he says with a grain of salt) it could end up cancelling not just this season but next season as well. Crunch time in the hockey negotiations is now; everyone agrees there has to be a deal by the end of January if any semblance of a season is to be salvaged. Over at ESPN, Terry Frei notes that Avalanche owner Stan Kronke could be a key person in the talks. He launched his Altitude Sports TV network this year, and the plan was not for the Nuggets to carry the network by themselves. But Kronke can't make the two sides get together himself, as much as he probably wants a deal. As the hockey world waits for the impasse to be resolved, some Canadians are taking matters into their own hands through their website, freestanley.com. They're demanding that if the lockout is not resolved, that the Stanley Cup be awarded as a challenge cup among Canadian teams, "which was Lord Stanley's original intent." Throw a couple of American teams into the mix (after all, the Seattle Metropolitans won the Cup way back in the pre-NHL days) and they might get me on board.