Peter Forsberg Retires: The Top 20 Players in Colorado Avalanche History
With Peter Forsberg's retirement earlier this week, along with Joe Sakic's retirement last year and Adam Foote's imminent retirement, the Colorado Avalanche are turning a new leaf.
The glory days are gone (and if you don't believe me, check out last night's tape), but that doesn't mean they should be forgotten as well.
As the Avalanche look ahead to the future, let's look back into the past at 20 players who helped make up one of the better NHL franchises of the past two decades.
20. Uwe Krupp
Despite playing only a few seasons with the Avalanche, Krupp's triple overtime goal in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals against Florida may forever live on as the most memorable moment in franchise history.
Regular Season Stats: 144 GP—13 G—42 A
Playoff Stats: 29 GP—4 G—13 A
19. Matt Duchene
His accomplishments are small, but an All-Star game appearance at age 20 foretells a bright future for the sophomore Matt Duchene. Look for Duchene to lead the Avalanche as they look to get back into Stanley Cup contention in the coming years.
Regular Season Stats: 138 GP—45 G—57 A
Playoff Stats: 6 GP—0 G—3 A
18. Jon Klemm
Klemm didn't dazzle anyone on the ice, but he was a solid contributor with the Colorado Avalanche for six seasons. He's one of only a handful of players to be a part of both Avalanche Stanley Cups.
Regular Season Stats: 393 GP—28 G—55 A
Playoff Stats: 94 GP—6 G—6 A
17. Alexei Gusarov
The Goose was one of the Avalanche's top defensemen in the franchises early seasons, and remained a solid blue liner until he was traded to the New York Rangers in 2000-2001.
His top moment as a member of the Avalanche was his assist on Joe Sakic's triple overtime goal in game five of the Western Conference quarterfinals during the 1996 playoffs.
Regular Season Stats: 292 GP—16 G—50 A
Playoff Stats: 50 GP—0 G—13 A
16. John-Michael Liles
Liles hasn't won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche, but he has nevertheless been a very good player in his career with the Avalanche. A mainstay on Colorado's blue line, Liles recently surpassed Sandis Ozolinsh as the highest scoring defenseman in Avalanche history.
Regular Season Stats: 504 GP—68 G—196 A
Playoff Stats: 36 GP—4 G—7 A
15. Paul Stastny
Paul Stastny hasn't been a part of greatness like many others listed below him, but his contributions to the Avalanche in his five seasons cannot be overlooked.
Son of Peter, former face of the Quebec Nordiques, Stastny figures to be the Avalanche's next captain, and a mainstay with the club as they try to reclaim past glory.
Regular Season Stats: 329 GP—100 G—208 A
Playoff Stats: 15 GP—3 G—5 A
14. Alex Tanguay
One of Colorado's four first-round picks in the 1998 draft, Tanguay proved to be the most fruitful. After a 51-point rookie season in 1999-00, Tanguay emerged as a top line forward for Colorado, and would be one until 2005-06.
Tanguay's most memorable moment as a member of the Avalanche was his two goal performance in game seven of the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals.
Regular Season Stats: 450 GP—137 G—263 A
Playoff Stats: 83 GP—18 G—32 A
13. Valeri Kamesky
Kamensky's top line contributions in his four seasons with the Avalanche helped them capture the Pacific Division (1996-1998) and Northwest Division (1999) titles four straight times. His 10 goals in the 1996 playoffs were key as the Avalanche went on to capture the Stanley Cup.
Regular Season Stats: 289 GP—106 G—155 A
Playoff Stats: 56 GP—24 G—34 A
12. Adam Deadmarsh
A great goal scoring and fighting complimentary winger to Peter Forsberg and Valeri Kamensky, Deadmarsh had four 20+ goal and four 100+ penalty minute seasons in his six year Avalanche career.
Regular Season Stats: 405 GP—129 G—142 A
Playoff Stats: 82 GP—22 G—23 A
11. Sandis Ozolinsh
Ozolinsh was a star from the second he joined the Avalanche, putting up elite scoring stats for defensemen, including a 23 goal season in 1996-97. Perhaps more impressive was his play in five playoff appearances with Colorado, where he frequently scored at a point per game pace.
Regular Season Stats: 333 GP—72 G—181 A
Playoff Stats: 82 GP—18 G—47 A
10. Claude Lemieux
Claude Lemieux may best be remembered for his four seasons and change with the Colorado Avalanche, thanks to his participation in the Colorado Avalanche-Detroit Red Wings rivalry.
In addition to being one of the great all-time agitators for Colorado, Lemieux had someone of his best seasons statistically, including a 39 goal season in 1996. In the playoffs, where Lemieux generally earned his paycheck, he was always among the Avalanche leaders in points, and led the team in goals with 13 in the 1996-97 playoffs.
Regular Season Stats: 297 GP—106 G—106 A
Playoff Stats: 62 GP—24 G—31 A
9. Chris Drury
Winning the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 1998-1999, Drury quickly became one of Colorado's top offensive players. His performances in the playoffs stand out particularly, as in only four playoff appearances with Colorado, Drury managed to score three overtime goals, and in 2001 scored 11 goals in route to Colorado's Stanley Cup.
Regular Season Stats: 314 GP—85 G—137 A
Playoff Stats: 80 GP—26 G—24 A
8. Stephane Yelle
Yelle is a perfect example of why grinders play a key role in winning Stanley Cup titles.
He didn't score many goals in his eight seasons with the Avalanche, but he did a great job of shutting down the other teams top lines while Sakic, Forsberg, and co. took care of the scoring part.
His most memorable moment came in those playoffs when after hitting the post on a wide open net in overtime of Game 3 in the Western Conference Finals against the St. Louis Blues—a game the Avalanche would lose—Yelle redeemed himself in Game 4 by scoring the overtime game winner.
Regular Season Stats: 516 GP—54 G—90 A
Playoff Stats: 117 GP—5 G—17 A
7. Rob Blake
Coming over from LA at the 2001 trade deadline, Blake was the player that pushed the Avalanche over the top en route to the Stanley Cup. Blake had a huge goal in Game 7 of the semi-finals against the Kings, and had two goals in the Stanley Cup Finals against New Jersey.
In the regular season, Blake eclipsed the 13 goal and 45 point mark in all five of his seasons with Colorado.
Regular Season Stats: 322 GP—62 G—146 A
Playoff Stats: 68 GP—16 G—27 A
6. Ray Bourque
Perhaps the two most memorable seasons played by any player in Colorado Avalanche history were played by Ray Bourque.
Despite being 40-years-old, Bourque was Colorado's top defenseman in both the playoffs and regular season, and despite such a short tenure became the first Avalanche player to have his number retired by the organization.
Regular Season Stats: 94 GP—15 G—58 A
Playoff Stats: 34 GP—5 G—14 A
5. Milan Hejduk
One of the most consistent players in Colorado Avalanche history, Milan Hejduk has scored over 40 points in all 12 of his seasons with the Avs. In that span, he's scored 20 goals in every season but his rookie 1998-1999 season and the current campaign, but is having a nice season with 17 goals and 45 points in 50 games.
Despite not being considered a superstar player like Joe Sakic or Peter Forsberg, Hejduk's longevity with the Avalanche will be enough to have his banner raised when he decides to retire.
Regular Season Stats: 889 GP—352 G—394 A
Playoff Stats: 112 GP—34 G—42 A
4. Adam Foote
Mean. Gritty. Tough.
All three words exemplify Adam Foote's numerous contributions to the Avalanche in his 13 seasons with the club.
While he may have never won a Norris Trophy (mostly due to mediocre offensive stats), Foote boasts the title of best defenseman on one of the better teams in the past twenty years, and was a member of both Stanley Cup Championship teams.
Number 52 will be undoubtedly be raised to the rafters after Foote retires.
Regular Season Stats: 754 GP—48 G—173 A
Playoff Stats: 158 GP—7 G—33 A
3. Peter Forsberg
Forsberg's career with the Avalanche was a combination of greatness and frustration. Unbelievable hands, vision, and strength combined into one player, but such an aggressive style took a huge toll on Forsberg's body, even causing him to miss the entire 2002 regular season.
But when he was healthy, not many people were better in the entire NHL. Aside from winning two Stanley Cups, Forsberg's career highlight came in 2003 when he won the NHL's Hart Trophy as league MVP.
Upon his retirement earlier this week, the Avalanche have announced Forsberg's number 21 will be raised to the rafters.
Regular Season Stats: 544 GP—202 G—503 A
Playoff Stats: 134 GP—56 G—97 A
2. Patrick Roy
In his eight years in Denver, Colorado won two Stanley Cups, a President's Trophy, 16 playoff series, and an NHL record eight straight division titles.
And to think he was considered past his prime when the Avalanche acquired him in 1995.
Acquiring Roy from Montreal for essentially spare parts (Andrei Kovalenko, Martin Ruchinsky, Jocelyn Thibault) was one of the greatest trades in NHL history, and single handedly gave birth to what would be an NHL powerhouse Colorado Avalanche team.
His addition gave Colorado the extra spark they needed to turn the club from good to elite, and it's unlikely the Avalanche would have captured any Stanley Cups without him.
Regular Season Stats: 478 GP—262 W—37 SO
Playoff Stats: 133 GP—81 W—18 SO
1. Joe Sakic
The Avalanche's all-time leader in games played, goals, assists, points, and playoff points, as well as being one of the best leaders in the history of the NHL, Joe Sakic is an easy choice for number one on this list.
Sakic brought Colorado it's first championship winning team in 1996, and his 18 goals earned him Conn Smythe trophy honors. In 2001, when Colorado won the President's Trophy, Sakic again led the Avs to the Cup while winning the Hart Trophy as league MVP.
The area where Sakic separates himself the most from any other player in NHL history is his ability to score clutch goals. In 1996, Sakic set a record for most game winning goals in one playoff year with six, and holds the record for most playoff overtime goals in NHL history with eight.
Regular Season Stats: 870 GP—391 G—624 A
Playoff Stats: 160 GP—77 G—100 A