For the Colorado Avalanche, it’s “All The Small Things.”
Viral clips have circulated of fans at Ball Arena rocking out, initially during a stoppage in play, to the opening verses and chorus of the 1999 Blink-182 hit and continuing to sing the song even as play resumes. In the last couple of years, the song has become somewhat of an anthem with the team itself and has been adopted as an endearing tradition among not just the passionate Avs Faithful, but has gained notoriety across the league and is recognized as synonymous to the organization.
While the tradition is now deployed in an orchestrated fashion, its origin was completely spontaneous. Back in the fall of 2019, Craig Turney, who has – in his words the, “best job in the world” – as the Avalanche’s DJ since 2007 and is fondly known by Avs Faithful as DJ Triple T, was ideating a new way to engage the fanbase during games. One afternoon while listening to a throwback radio station “All The Small Things” bopped through the speaker of his car.
“What a song right?” Turney said as he recalled that specific moment. “You don’t even have to like rock, that song is just one of those feel-good universal tunes that you can’t help but sing along to.”
So, at the next Avalanche home game and from his previous perch in section 338 at Ball Arena, Turney experimented by playing the song during a stoppage.
The crowd immediately responded.
“They just loved it,” Turney recalled. “It was organic. It wasn’t staged. Everyone was into it and it was like, ‘Wow, OK I think we’re really on to something here.'”
From there, Turney and Steve Johnston, the Executive Producer and Director of Game Presentation for the Avalanche, brainstormed over what circumstances to deploy the song and at what cadence. After some consideration, they came to the mutual conclusion to wait until midway through the third period – when the Avalanche had obtained a comfortable lead and ideally during a stoppage – to blast the bop.
They didn’t anticipate the reception that would follow.
“It really got going during that 2019-20 season and you could tell people were embracing it,” Turney explained. “But then, the season was paused indefinitely in March.”
Due to the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak across the globe, all professional sports – and normalcy of everyday life – were placed in a standstill. The NHL didn’t resume the season until late that summer and did so in a bubble format split between fanless venues in Toronto and Edmonton. But even those unforeseen circumstances didn’t prevent Turney from keeping the tradition alive.
“That just felt like a moment where everyone needed it,” Turney said. “I know I did. No one could be there at the games and we all wanted to be. Everyone’s normal lives were changed and hockey was back, but not in the way that we all know and love. So, when I sent our playlist of songs to the DJ in the [Edmonton] bubble I gave specific instructions on how and when to play the song. And they did! That was awesome and I think is part of why it became such a special tradition because it has that ability to make you feel like you’re there at the game cheering on the Avs even if you aren’t.”
Tweet from @Sportsnet: .@Avalanche fans singing “All The Small Things” >>>#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/ACXsWMauNj
Once fans were warmly welcomed back into the stands after two seasons of COVID-19 attendance restrictions, the tradition exploded. As did Colorado’s stellar record on home ice over the last few seasons.
Throughout the last three years combined (2019-22), the Avalanche boast the best home record in the NHL with 74 wins and a 74-18-12 record. They were tied with Pittsburgh for the top record during the 2020-21 season at 22-4-2 and this past season, established a franchise best with an 18-game undefeated streak from Nov. 3, 2021 – Jan. 30, 2022, which marked the fifth-longest home ice winning streak in NHL history.
“The fans in general have been so supportive of us,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “Especially myself and a handful of other guys who have been through the tough times, just seeing how they stuck around and have really supported us through all the ups and downs. Now, we’re obviously pretty dominant at home. We feed off of that energy. Whether that’s them signing or just getting the chants going or just pushing us when we’re a goal away from tying it up, It definitely means a lot to us. This has become a really tough place to play for visiting teams and one of the loudest buildings in the league. We take a lot of pride in that.”
Turney’s DJ booth is now stationed in the thick of the fan action at the concourse level next to the Altitude desk where Kyle Keefe, Mark Rycroft, Marc Moser and Peter McNab conduct their in-game broadcast. For Turner, being closer to ice level allows him to have a better pulse on the game itself and the sentiment from the fans.
It’s also allowed him to really notice how engaged the crowd becomes when the opportunity arises for “All The Small Things” to play. Turney now receives a constant stream of messages from fans regarding the tradition. There’s even a Twitter profile dedicated to posting fan videos of sing-alongs to “All The Small Things.” Recently, the viral clips even caught the attention and admiration of Blink-182 bassist and vocalist Mark Hoppus via Twitter.
“It’s organic, it’s a tradition, it’s a little bit emotional,” Conor McGahey, Altitude’s radio play-by-play broadcaster explained. “You can’t listen to it or watch it and not get emotional. It transports people to make them feel like they’re here. I’ve gotten tweets from people saying whether it’s the call itself or saying, ‘Hey, thanks for laying off for “All The Small Things,” I felt like I was sitting in the building.’ Mission accomplished. That’s the goal regardless, to make people feel like they’re here.”
Tweet from @markhoppus: Amazing. https://t.co/az7zf9FheB
Even the national broadcasters from both ESPN and TNT have both picked up on and partaken in the fond Avalanche tradition.
“It’s not even a discussion that we have with producers or anything like that, we just know “All The Small Things” goes with the Avalanche,” Brendan Burke, who is one of TNT’s play-by-play announcers and a regular commentator for the New York Islanders, said. “I try my best to lay off. It seems like it just keeps getting longer and goes way after the puck is dropped. You can’t always hold off for a full minute-and-a-half, but I try for as long as I can. Every team has their traditions and their own in-game practices, but I think this one in particular has sparked a trend across the league. I’ve noticed a lot of other teams play – not necessarily “All The Small Things” – but other popular songs and the crowd will sing it after the play continues. But “All The Small Things” here [in Denver] is pretty special. It’s awesome to witness in-person and I’ve been fortunate to experience it a few times now.”
And while it’s not purposeful that the song that’s become the beloved anthem to Avalanche fans originated during the time frame that the organization arrived in Denver via Quebec City or in between the team’s two Stanley Cup runs, it is a bit ironic and fitting. As is the title of the song itself. In some ways, the title coincides with the message that’s been relentlessly preached over the last few seasons by Avalanche Head Coach Jared Bednar and the team’s core veteran group to focus on; every period, every shift, every play, every detail… all the small things.
Tweet from @Haddy_Avs_Fan: NAK singing All The Small Things (your not gonna tell me otherwise)😌 we love him your honor @madsfids pic.twitter.com/dFHnHI2AoO
“Post-COVID it’s been electric and especially this season has been awesome,” Landeskog said. “It’s been louder than ever. It seems like they finish the entire song almost if they can. I’ve been noticing that even in the playoffs, a lot of other teams have been picking up the same thing and have been playing popular songs and letting the crowd finish it. If you’re on the ice and you’re playing, you’re not necessarily thinking about it. But if you’re on the bench and you’ve got some time to sit there, you notice it. That’s kind of our song now. It’s pretty electric when they do it.”
And for the Avs Faithful, it’s more than just a song. It’s a tradition that not only unifies the entirety of those in attendance or viewing the game, but it’s a testament to the passion and commitment from the best fans in hockey.
“For me, I look at this job like I get to come spend a few nights a week with a building full of my best friends,” Turney said. “And when you’re here and the whole arena is rocking out and singing along, ‘Say it ain’t’ so, I will not go. Turn the lights off. Carry me home, Na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na, na, na,” all in unison it just gives you chills. That’s what it’s all about. That community that bonds over something so simple. It’s all the small things.”