Colorado Avalanche: Rough start for Chris Stewart

James CriderCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2009

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 23:  Chris Stewart #25 of the Colorado Avalanche warms up prior to facing the Los Angeles Kings during preseason NHL action at the Pepsi Center on September 23, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Kings 3-2.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

In 2004 at the age of 16, Avalanche forward Chris Stewart quit hockey to pursue other interests in life.

Right now, Avalanche fans are praying this isn't a repeat.

Stewart, drafted 18th overall by the Avalanche in the 2006 NHL draft, came on strong last season when given his first chance to play in the NHL. Though he only averaged 12:19 of ice time per game (25th most on a team of 30), Stewart made the most of his opportunity by scoring 11 goals and registering eight fights in his 53 game season.

This season, things have changed.

After a lack luster start with the Avalanche, which saw Stewart only register two shots on goal in four games, he was sent to the Avalanche's minor league affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters. There, Stewart didn't do much to work his way back up, going pointless in two contests.

Chris has an older brother in the NHL, Anthony. Anthony Stewart is known as being one of the few busts of the notoriously strong 2003 draft. From that first round, only three players aren't currently playing in the NHL, and Stewart is one of them.

Florida drafted him 25th overall hoping he would be the goal scoring power forward he was in junior, where his best season saw a 32 goal, 67 point effort in only 62 games.

Six years after being drafted, Anthony Stewart is no longer with the Panthers organization.

The Avalanche drafted Stewart to fill a similar role within the organization, so it's a little unsettling to see Stewart's brother never ended up being a contributor for Florida.

An eye injury to Cody McLeod has opened the door for Stewart, as he was recalled by the Avalanche today. He now has a chance to re-establish himself in the role everyone expected him to be in at the start of the season.

If he fails to do so, there's no telling when he'll get another chance because winning teams aren't going to bend over backwards for players who can't crack the line-up.