Meet the Avalanche fan who got banned for spreading his friend's ashes on Ball Arena ice.  With no regrets.

Meet the Avalanche fan who got banned for spreading his friend’s ashes on Ball Arena ice. With no regrets.

Ryan Clark can live with being banned from Avalanche home games right now. Because, dang it, The Lord and Cale Makar as his witnesses, he’d do it again. Stanley Cup and all. In a heartbeat.

“I told myself at the time, ‘This is gonna (stink) if they make the playoffs,’” Clark laughed from his home in Arvada, where he’s watched the best six months of Avs hockey in a generation play out from a distance.

“But when someone asked me, ‘Where do you think Kyle is now?’ I told them, ‘That Zamboni spread his (backside) all over this ice. And he is embedded into this ice for the remainder (of the season).’”

Kyle is Kyle Wayne Stark. Ryan and Kyle were close friends, the best of pals, for more than a dozen years until the latter’s sudden death last Dec. 21. They were brothers in burgundy and blue, even going in on Avs season tickets together two years ago.

It takes a village to lift a Cup. It takes Makar, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabe Landeskog, hockey ninjas on a mission. It takes Colorado general manager Super Joe Sakic working the trade deadline the way Igor Stravinsky worked a piano. It takes somebody different picking up the rope every night.

Ask Clark, though, and he’ll tell you it took a little bit of Kyle, too. That his friends’ ashes are still a part of that ice, still a part of those boards, still a part of the story. That the Avs’ flight to Cup glory has come, in part, on cherub’s wings.

“You know that baseball movie, ‘Angels in the Outfield?’” Clark said, laughing again. “This is the hockey version. Right here.”


Operation Kyle came about during the reception, after Stark, just 31 years of age, was laid to rest, a funeral that featured mourners in Avs sweaters and Kyle’s mom, Stacey, handing out hockey pucks.

Clark was one of a group of friends who also walked away with a portion of Ryan’s ashes. After a post-funeral conversation with Stark’s stepfather, Jason, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his piece of one of the best friends he’d ever had.

“This was upon sober thinking,” Clark said. “(We) really had come to the conclusion, myself and his stepdad, that one of us was probably going to end up in jail doing this. We had already come to terms with it. ‘Well, OK, if this happens, it happens.’”

Kyle’s stepfather, Jason Marston, had tickets to Avs-Maple Leafs on Jan. 8. The pair had finished a pregame dinner at the Breckenridge Brewery Mountain House, 10 minutes before the first period, when Ryan turned to Marston.


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