Friendship, honor, tribute, hockey — it all comes together in a way we can all appreciate.
One final trip to the stadium together was worth missing the rest of the season for one hockey fan.
The Colorado Avalanche are returning home to Denver to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in the bid for Stanley Cup glory. One passionate fan will not be in attendance, and that is due to his best friend being incapable of going. Ryan Clark has been banned from any of the games of the Finals, and he is perfectly at peace with the ruling.
This past December Ryan lost his best friend, Kyle Stark, due to a sudden death. The longtime friends were close, with Kyle serving as the Best Man when Ryan got married. They also attended Avalanche games as passionate fans, and as their beloved team was having a deeply impressive season Ryan felt a need to pay tribute to his departed hockey partner.
Not long after his friend’s funeral, Kyle’s parents invited Ryan to join them at Ball Arena for a game, in a gesture of remembrance. Ryan of course leaped at the offer, and then he made a request of his friend’s parents: Would they be willing to bring with them some of Kyles’s ashes to the stadium? In a fashion, it was the chance to have the two friends attend one final game together, and then Ryan decided to take the opportunity and make it somewhat permanent.
Kyle would not be leaving the rink that night. His friend saw the opportunity, and he managed to place him onto the playing surface. “We had him in a little baggie. We got Kyle over the glass, and onto the ice.” After years spent watching games play out in the rink, Kyle then became a part of that sheet. It was the best final tribute Ryan could think of for his friend.
Not surprisingly, his gesture was not warmly greeted by team authorities. Upon seeing his actions an usher approached Ryan and grilled him about what he had done, and the Avs fan was completely upfront about what he had done, explaining that it was his best friend who was now out on the ice. Ryan was then escorted from the arena, and shortly after that night, he received a notice from the team announcing that he would not be permitted to attend any more Avalanche games for the remainder of the season.
Missing out on his favorite team’s championship run is a small punishment when weighed against the memory he has created. Regrets have not even entered Ryan’s mind on the matter. “I’d do it all over again with the biggest smile on my face, like I did the last time. I know in my heart that’s where he wanted to be.”