DENVER (CBS4) – This season marks the 20th anniversary of the Colorado Avalanche moving to Denver. To commemorate that, CBS4 is taking a look back at the 20 players most responsible for the team’s successful run in the Mile High City.
The following are the players are the Top 10:
10. Paul Stastny (C, 2006-2014)
You can’t forget the hometown kid when putting together a list like this. Stastny went to school at the University of Denver, helping the Pioneers to their second NCAA Ice Hockey Championship in a row. His father is Hockey Hall of Famer Peter Stastny. He was drafted by the Avalanche in 2006, and finished second in Calder Trophy voting behind Evgeni Malkin. Stastny was a fan favorite during his time in Denver, but was let go in free agency before signing with the St. Louis Blues in 2014.
9. Alex Tanguay (LW, 1999-2006 & 2013-Present)
Tanguay was a rock during the Avalanche’s run to the 2001 Stanley Cup. Save for the lockout season in 2005, he never missed the playoffs while in Denver. He recorded 77 points for the Avs in 2001, and 78 in 2006, his last year in his first stint with the team. Three years ago the team brought him back after Calgary let him test free agency. He’s struggled with injuries, but has helped bring a veteran presence to a young team.
8. Gabriel Landeskog (LW, 2011-Present)
Gabe Landeskog has been described as a once-in-a-generation player. His idol growing up was Peter Forsberg, who also hails from his native Sweden. Landeskog won the Calder Trophy in 2012 as the league’s top rookie, and was named team captain that next season, the youngest in league history at 19 years and 286 days. He went through a sophomore slump, but returned for an even stronger season in 2013-2014, recording 65 points in 81 games.
7. Rob Blake (D, 2000-2006)
Another veteran player. A lot of Avalanche fans would love to have a defenseman of Blake’s caliber playing for the team today. Acquired in a trade with the LA Kings in 2001 (involving Adam Deadmarsh), Blake had already played in the league for 12 years before wearing the Avs sweater. His only Cup as a player came with the Avalanche in 2001. Last year, Blake was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
6. Ray Bourque (D, 1999-2001)
There may not be a more iconic moment in sports history than Joe Sakic immediately handing Ray Bourque the Stanley Cup in 2001. Bourque toiled in the NHL, trying to win a cup every year since his rookie year in 1979. That year, he played in 80 games and recorded 59 points, and is regarded by some as the key to the team’s Stanley Cup win that year. Not surprisingly, he retired after lifting the cup and had his number retired by the team.
5. Milan Hejduk (RW, 1998-2013)
Hejduk played every year of his 15-year career in Denver. He made the playoffs seven straight years (including the 2005 lockout season), and was a key part of the Avs’ 2001 Cup win. In 2003, he won the “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the NHL’s top goal scorer, when he netted 50 goals. In his later years, he was a mentor to players like Matt Duchene and Gabe Landeskog. When Hejduk retired, he was the last connection to the 2001 Stanley Cup team.
4. Adam Foote (D, 1995-2004 & 2008-2011)
Foote is up there with Rob Blake and Ray Borque as one of the best defensemen to ever wear the “A.” He was drafted by the Nordiques in 1991, and has been with the franchise for every one of his seasons except for three, spent with the Columbus Blue Jackets (2006-2008).
3. Peter Forsberg (C, 1995-2004 & 2007-2008 & 2010-2011)
Forsberg spent most of his career with the Avalanche, helping the team to both of their Stanley Cup wins. He actually had three different stints with the team, but only appeared in a total of 11 games from 2007 to 2011. His most productive season came 1996, when he recorded 116 points. In 2003, he won both the Art Ross Trophy (NHL Points Leader) and Hart Memorial Trophy (League MVP). Today, the Hockey Hall of Famer serves as General Manager for Modo Hockey in his native Sweden.
2. Patrick Roy (G, 1995-2003)
Would it be easier just to list all of Patrick Roy’s awards? He won the Calder Cup in 1985 as rookie of the year, has won four Stanley Cups, three Conn Smythe Trophies as playoff MVP, and eight combined Jennings and Vezina Trophies for best goaltending. He’s now the head coach of the Avalanche, and also won the Jack Adams Award as Coach of the Year.
1. Joe Sakic (C, 1995-2009)
The Captain. In the Avs’ first year in Denver, Sakic scored 120 points. He followed that up with a 118-point performance in 2001 and a 100-point showing as late as 2007. He was playoff MVP in 1995, and in 2001 won trophies for best sportsman, NHL MVP, and Players Association Most Outstanding Player. Not to mention the two Stanley Cups. Now, he’s trying to score again as General Manager of the Colorado Avalanche.
Ben Warwick is a writer and producer at CBS4 and a huge sports fan. He is an avid fan of most Colorado teams, but was raised to watch the Dallas Cowboys play on Sundays. Follow Ben on Twitter @BenCBS4.