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Avalanche Charter Plane Turns Into Animal House

June 12, 1996

DENVER (AP) _ Since Charlie Lyons is credited with bringing championship hockey from Canada to Colorado, the Colorado Avalanche players weren’t about to let Lyons miss a minute of the Stanley Cup celebration.

Lyons, president of Ascent Entertainment Group, which owns the Avalanche and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, flew home on the team charter Monday after Colorado completed a four-game sweep of the Florida Panthers.

The effects of the ride showed Tuesday as a haggard-but-happy Lyons accepted an invitation to a parade to honor the team Wednesday.

``You’ll have to pardon me because I had to fly back on what I would characterize as the Stanley Cup version of `Animal House,‴ Lyons said. ``A few folks were allowed to sleep, but the players made certain I didn’t get 10 seconds of rest.″

Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, who also was on the plane, managed to catch a few winks, but then found himself supporting Stanley _ as in Cup.

``He finally dozed off and was sleeping and looked very comfortable and up the aisle walked three hockey players who put the Cup in his lap,″ Lyons said. ``They said `Wake up, Mayor, it’s the Cup.‴

``My first thought was that someone was going to be there with a camera to get me with my mouth open and one eye half open,″ Webb said. ``I opened both eyes and smiled, and there WAS a camera. The Cup was pretty heavy.″

The weight of the Stanley Cup trophy was nothing compared to the burden lifted from Colorado’s collective shoulders when the Avalanche brought the state its first pro sports championship.

Colorado officials wasted little time bragging Tuesday, including Gov. Roy Romer, who won a bet with Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles.

``I understand the oranges are en route,″ Romer said. ``I don’t know how many we’re going to get out of old Lawton Chiles, but I will save them and we’ll try to have an orange sharing.″

Romer will miss Wednesday’s ticker-tape parade because he has to attend congressional hearings in Washington, D.C., but the Avalanche and their fans will have another chance to celebrate into the night _ something Webb learned they’re very adept at doing.

``Most of these pro athletes are very young, but they’ve also done something that’s spectacular,″ he said. ``They celebrated as they should. They’re the best in the world.″

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