Colorado Avalanche: The 5 Strangest Moments in Franchise History
As with any success story, bizarre moments are imperative in shaping the story's outcome. For Steve Jobs, this moment came in 1985 when he was fired from Apple. In his commencement speech at Stanford in 2005, Jobs recognized his firing as being "the best thing that had ever happened to him" as it freed him to enter one of the most creative periods of his life.
If it had not been for Apple's bizarre decision to fire Jobs, it's possible that we'd live in a world today without Pixar's Toy Story, the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone and all of the other amazing feats that Jobs accomplished during his lifetime.
Since it's relocation from Quebec in 1995, the Colorado Avalanche have also experienced a great deal of success.
Through winning two Stanley Cups and breaking numerous NHL records, the Avalanche have, like Jobs, experienced strange moments that have both sculpted the franchise's success and brought injury and melee to its players.
Here are the five strangest moments in Colorado Avalanche history.
5) 1997- Joe Sakic Signed 3 Yr, $21 Million Deal by New York Rangers
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After winning the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophies the previous season, it doesn't surprise me that the Rangers and probably numerous other teams tried to sign Sakic and dismantle a dominant Avalanche team.
Luckily for every Avalanche fan, the collective bargaining agreement at the time allowed the Avalanche one week to match the Rangers' offer. Of course the Avalanche did, and one of the best players in the game's history wore the burgundy, steel blue, white and silver for the rest of his career.
4) 1991- Quebec Nordiques Select Eric Lindros
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In 1991 (four years before the Nordiques moved to Colorado to become the Avalanche), the Nordiques selected Eric Lindros with the first-overall pick in the draft. Although Lindros made it clear he didn't want to play for the franchise, Quebec still figured they could receive good compensation for him via trade.
I'd say Quebec was on point.
The Nordiques traded the rights to Lindros to Philadelphia for Swedish prospect Peter Forsberg—two first-round draft picks and $15 million.
Peter "Foppa" Forsberg, known for his uncanny vision and creativity on the ice, went on to become one of the most dominant players of his generation. His talents were crucial in helping the Avalanche win Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001.
With the other first-round-picks the Nordiques received in the trade, the Avs selected goalie Jocelyn Thibault and center Adam Deadmarsh (both became NHL All-Stars).
3) 2008- Tony Granato Replaces Joel Quenneville
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In 2008, Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville was fired after the Avalanche got swept by the Stanley Cup Champion Red Wings in the 2008 Western Conference semifinals.
What made this moment so strange?
Quenneville was replaced by Tony Granato, the same person Quenneville was hired to replace in 2004.
Granato would only last the 2008-9 season before again being fired and eventually getting replaced by current Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco.
2) 2004- Todd Bertuzzi Sucker-Punches Colorado's Steve Moore
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I distinctly remember watching this hit live and wanting to fly to Vancouver and sucker-punch Bertuzzi in the face myself (I was 11). This was by far the dirtiest play I had, and still have, ever seen.
Todd Bertuzzi should have been banned from the NHL for life for this hit.
A month before the incident, Steve Moore had delivered a somewhat ill-intentioned hit on Canuck captain Markus Naslund, striking him in the head. Vancouver coach Marc Crawford was enraged on the bench as he pointed to Moore and shouted some expletives.
Later, Vancouver players indicated that they would get even with Moore (winger Brad May said he'd put a bounty on Moore's head). It was clear that Crawford and Bertuzzi were out to seek revenge on Steve Moore.
This hit ended Moore's playing career. The punch, combined with the fall, left Moore with three fractured vertebrae, facial cuts and a concussion.
1) 1997- Brawl in Hockeytown
In Game 6 of the 1996 Western Conference Finals, Avalanche forward Claude Lemieux belligerently body-checked Kris Draper into the boards from behind. As a result, Draper was immediately sent to the hospital after suffering a broken jaw, a shattered cheek and fractured facial orbital bones.
The Avalanche would go on to defeat the Wings in the series on their road to winning the '96 Stanley Cup.
Although the Wings had played the Avalanche three times in the 1997 season, the fourth game between the two hockey powerhouses was different.
This time, Lemieux was back and playing for the Avalanche.
The game ended with nine fights. The main brawl ensued at the 18-minute mark of the first period when practically both teams stopped play and started a classic melee.
The ice was completely covered in blood. This was no longer a hockey game—it was a legitimate precursor to MMA.