The Colorado Avalanche has been a team which has earned its respect through good play, great drafts and intelligent trading. Though they have had up and down seasons lately, they rebuilt and again made the playoffs last season.
Largely due to their succesful choice of top notch players, the team owes a lot to guys behing the scenes who have instilled their wits to make this a feared opponent in the West.
Here are the 5 people (players, builders and owners alike) who have been key in their success.
First impressions are the most important, and Marc Crawford caused one.
Boy, was it a good first impression.
In his first season as a head coach, he ended with 30 wins in a 48 game shortened season and led the Nordiques to a first place in the Northeastern Division.
On his second season, the first as a coach of the Avalanche, he won the Stanley cup in a sweep of Florida, another young, fast rising team.
He reached the Conference finals on the next year and managed to clinch the division title on each of his seasons as a coach of the Avalance.
He resigned, as a surprise to many, searching a new challenge but his contributions to the team were clearly important. He did not repeat the success with other teams and now is working for the Dallas Stars.
Many Avalanche fans still respect him for his work with the team.
It's clear what the effect of Super Joe was to the franchise, other than any other player in the history of the team.
He played his entire career with the franchise and led many offensive categories as well as provide leadership and knowledge to the younger players who would become essential to the Avalanche, such as Statsny.
Though other players have had great success and a great effect on the team, such as Roy, Forsberg, Foote and Ozolinsh, none were as important or representative of the team as Sakic himself.
Even when he signed the offer sheet by the Rangers (causing a widespread raise in the salaries, both demanded and paid, of most player sin the nhl), he was loved by fans young and old alike, and delivered by winning a second Stanley Cup.
Sakic not only caused an impression when he played, but now it is certain many of the young Avs players want to emulate the talented man.
Thank you, Super Joe.
Never has the refusal to play in a team been so good for that team. Eric Lindros had expressed repeated desire to leave Quebec, citing several reasons, amongst which was speaking French, to be displeased with the team.
His departure meant great players came in for Colorado in the most loftsided trade, in my opinion, in history. For Lindros, they got Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, Mike Ricci, Jocelyn Thibault, 15 million USD and the possibility of becoming the new powerhouse in the West, which they did.
Lindros went on to play for Philadelphia in an injury plagued career, eventually being traded to the Rangers for another set of players and did not have a great career there as well.
He moved to Dallas, where he was welcomed but did not enjoy nowhere near the success anyone expected of him. He retired after the injuries he sustained had taken their toll on him.
It comes to down to his lack of satisfaction with Quebec that Colorado became what it is.
Just as I said with Sakic, but with different reasons, thank you, Eric.
Lacroix has been a potent mind in the Colorado Avalanche team, having done such great trades to get in such players as Roy, Bourque and Blake and giving the team two Stanley Cups during his tenure.
Like all humans, he has made a bit of mistakes such as bringing in José Theodore when the latter wasn't having a great season. Theodore did not play as expected and eventually parted ways with the Avalanche.
All in all, Lacroix has to be credited with one of the essential pieces of the team's success and the story would be much different if he hadn't been around.
Now, he has resigned as a General Manager, concentrating solely of being the team's President. He was replaced by Francois Giguere, who had big shoes to fill and, unfortunately, did not deliver.
The G.M. position in the Avalanche now belongs to Greg Sherman.
Marcel who? Some people may ask.
Marcel Aubut is a lawyer who has always worked around hockey.
His rankings in the Quebec Nordiques organization include being the Chief Executive Officer and President of the team. He also has worked with the Canadian Olympic Comittee and was inducted into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame.
Not bad if you ask me. But this is not why he is on this list.
Marcel Aubut had the unfortunate reputation of having to declare the Quebec Nordiques as bankrupt, due to the difficulty Canadian teams had to represent competitive economies with U.S. teams.
He asked for a bailout and did not get one, as Quebec's provincial government was not motivated with the large salaries and not proportional performance. He knew that there was no chance the Nordiques could survive in such a competitive, predominantly U.S. located market.
It was up to Marcel Aubut to make the tough choice of selling the team to a certain group of investors in Denver, Colorado.
The rest is hockey history.
Aubut is still deep in the hockey world and has proposed Quebec as a city for relocation or a new franchise. Let's hope his ideas work and Quebec gets the hockey team they rightfully deserve.
For now, though, Aubut was essential in the Avalanche becoming who they are by knowing they were not where they were supposed to be.
He is seen in this picture with actor William Fichtner and his wife, Kym.