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Rycroft scoots along after pro hockey career

Alum Mark Rycroft, a former DU and NHL hockey player, manages Scooters on Broadway. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

You couldn’t blame Mark Rycroft (BSBA ’03) for choosing the University of Denver.

When the aspiring hockey player first visited campus, the Colorado Avalanche had just hoisted its first Stanley Cup, and a new rink at the Ritchie Center was in development. And, perhaps most importantly for the freshman right winger, seven seniors were leaving the Pioneers.

“It was a home run, a no-brainer,” Rycroft says, leaning on another sport to state his case.

Who could have expected Rycroft’s time at DU would work out so well for both sides?

The Penticton, B.C., native became a star with the Pioneers, playing three celebrated seasons before ascending to the NHL with the St. Louis Blues and, later, the Avalanche.

He’s now retired from professional hockey, but the game is never far from his thoughts. He provides color commentary for Pioneer hockey games and handles intermission and post-game analysis for the Avalanche. The rugged right winger left DU after his junior year for the chance to play in “The Show,” a dream come true for any hockey fanatic.

Retired athletes sometimes stumble as they transition out of their chosen sport. Rycroft credits his father-in-law, an “NHL coach kind of guy” with a knack for business for helping him find a new purpose.

Rycroft currently manages Scooters on Broadway, a Schwinn franchise located just a short drive from the DU campus. He recalls returning from Europe where scooters were commonplace and thought the business model might be a snug fit for Denver.

It didn’t hurt that gasoline prices were spiking at the time.

“Scooters are the future of travel in America,” he contends, noting their fuel efficiency, ease of use and parking perks. Your average lawnmower is “ten times more complicated” than a scooter.

“Everything has to come back to the city as the price of travel gets more expensive,” he adds. “People will eventually have a scooter in their garage.”

Opening his own business proved a life lesson for which no college course could prepare him.

“For every dollar you think you need — plan for two,” he says.

This year has been Scooters on Broadway’s best one yet, he says, and he’s currently expanding his inventory to include electrically powered bicycles which don’t require a driver’s license to operate.

“You can hit 15–20 miles per hour without even peddling,” he says.

Rycroft’s store features plenty of pictures from his hockey career, but customers want to discuss the current state of the Avalanche not his year-long stint with the team.

“I wouldn’t recognize myself without a [hockey] helmet on,” he jokes. And you won’t hear him complaining. He loves to talk and wouldn’t mind chatting up the sport all day if need be.

“Hockey is the greatest game on earth,” he says.

Rycroft studied real estate construction management at DU. Some athletes leave their scholastic careers behind when they turn pro. Not Rycroft, who returned to DU three summers in a row to wrap up his college days the right way, with sheepskin in hand.

“You can always leave early, but it’s so important for kids to finish their degrees,” he says.

Rycroft says he’s in the second phase of his professional career thanks to his scooter franchise, and he doesn’t mind starting at the bottom.

“I’m at the equivalent of bantam hockey,” Rycroft says. “And I’ll spend as long as it takes to get to the top.”

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