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Starting Six: Colorado Avalanche All-Time Lineup

The Starting Six series comes to you to dive into the best player at each position all-time for every organization. The biggest and best at each position, with the most memorable moments in franchise history. Here is the Colorado Avalanche all-time lineup.

Starting Six: Colorado Avalanche All-Time Lineup

From the cold shores of Quebec City to the thin air in Colorado, the Avalanche organization has seen its fair share of outstanding players. After joining the league in the 1979 expansion, Quebec struggled their first season. The team would not have to wait long for a successful team though, as they made the playoffs the next seven years.

After 16 seasons in the Canadian South East, the Nordiques moved to Denver becoming the Avalanche. In their first season in The Mile High City, the Avs would more than endear themselves to their new fans. They would end up winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, making them the only team in NHL history to win the cup in their first season after relocation. They would go on to win the Cup again in 2001, with much of the same core still intact from the first cup run. Knowing the impact of those players, many of them made this list. But some Nordiques still managed to show the younger generation the way.

Centre: Joe Sakic (1988-2009)

The longest serving player in franchise history, Joe Sakic was always the consummate professional. After being selected 15th overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft, Sakic joined the Nordiques. He managed to play 70 games in his rookie season, posting a very solid 23 goals and 39 assists. His strong performance would earn him an eighth place finish in Calder voting. Sakic would go on to post 90-plus point seasons across his next five years in the league, only failing to reach that mark in 1994-1995 due to the lockout.

After just his second year in the league, Burnaby Joe would be named co-captain of the Nordiques with teammate Steven Finn. His leadership was apparent right away as during the Eric Lindros fiasco Sakic was quoted as saying the Nordiques wanted, “players here who have a passion to play the game.” As if his leadership had not been tested enough, Sakic and the Nordiques soon had to deal with not just a lockout, but also relocation.

But to his credit, Sakic never missed a beat and in the team’s first season in Denver Sakic led them to the playoffs as Pacific Division Champions. He finished third in the NHL in points that season with 120. But that season would be remembered for what Sakic was able to do in the playoffs. Burnaby Joe would lead the young Avalanche squad through four grueling series, and eventually a sweep of the Florida Panthers to win the Stanley Cup. Sakic would be named Conn Smythe winner after leading the league in points during the playoffs.

Sakic would go on to become the second longest serving captain in league history, holding the position for 17 seasons. He would retire after the 2008-09 season. Sakic would collect the Lady Byng, Lester B. Pearson and Hart Trophies in 2000-01 after leading the Avs to their second Stanley Cup. After his retirement, Sakic would become part of the front office, taking on an advisor role after the 2010-11 season. He is now the executive vice president of hockey operations for the only club he ever played for. To this day Sakic remains the franchise’s all-time leader in points and the face of the franchise.

His number would be retired by the organization in 2009

Left Wing: Michel Goulet (1979-1990)

Although never able to hoist lord Stanley’s mug as a player, Michel Goulet was one of the key pieces during the infancy of the franchise. The first ever first round pick in franchise history, Goulet had the pressure placed squarely on his shoulders. But that pressure never managed to get to Goulet as he was able to put up 22 goals and 54 points in his rookie season. Goulet would just continue to build off that season, posting increases in points every year for the next four years. He would reach the height of his scoring in the 1983-1984 season, amassing 56 goals and 121 points.

Goulet would finish 10 seasons in Quebec. With 456 goals and 945 points, Goulet is still the third highest point producer in franchise history. He would ultimately be traded during the 1989-1990 season to the Chicago Blackhawks along with Greg Millen and a sixth round pick in the 1991 entry draft for Mario Doyon, Everett Sanipass and Dan Vincelette. The trade is still one of the toughest for the franchise to swallow but Goulet’s impact would never be forgotten. He had his number retired by the Nordiques in 1995, a year to the day after the concussion he suffered which ended his career.

Goulet would re-join the Avalanche organization as the director of player personnel the next season. He would go on to win two Stanley Cups in the director role.

Right Wing: Milan Hejduk (1999-2013)

An absolute steal by the Nordiques in the 1994 draft, Milan Hejduk would not make his NHL debut for the club until the 1998-99 seasons. But Hejduk was worth the wait for Avalanche fans. Hejduk would become a perennial 20-goal scorer, only missing that mark three times in his 14-year NHL career. He put up 48 points in his rookie season, finishing third in Calder voting that season behind only his teammate Chris Drury and Ottawa Senators Marian Hossa. Hejduk’s real impact in Colorado was his consistency. Rarely injured, Milan managed to play in more than 71 games in all but three seasons. In 2002-03, Hejduk would lead the league in goals with 50, winning the Rocket Richard Trophy in the process. Hejduk still holds the record for games played in a Nordiques/Avalanche jersey.

Defense: Adam Foote (1991-2004, 2007-2011)

The only man on this list who left and returned to Colorado, Adam Foote was a staple on the back line for 17 years with the franchise. First pulling on the white and blue in 1991, Foote became a lockdown defenseman early in his career. His 6’2”, 220-pound frame helped him stop offensive players in multiple ways. He was a leader from day one and a player the rest of the team felt they could rely upon for anything.

Foote was never a huge scoring threat. Across his 20-year NHL career he only broke the 30-point mark twice in 2002-03 as well as 2003-04. Instead he worked the defensive game to perfection, balancing his multiple partners. It allowed the rest of the team to push forward without fear. Foote, along with Sakic, was part of both Stanley Cup winning rosters, which places him in an elite class. As with Sakic, Foote would have his number retired by the Avs.

Defense: Rob Blake (2001-2006)

The shortest tenured player on this list, some may better know Rob Blake as a Los Angeles King. But Blake’s impact on the Avs was truly remarkable. After arriving in a trade from Los Angeles, which included Steve Reinprecht, Blake helped Colorado win their second Stanley Cup in six years.

A consistent 15-goal scorer from the back end, Blake managed to put up six goals during the Cup. He, along with Sakic, Foote, and Hejduk, led the Avalanche team to the fantastic Cup run.

His time may have been short in Colorado, signing in Los Angeles after the 2005-2006 season. Blake would eventually have his number retired by the Los Angeles Kings in January of 2015.

Goalie: Patrick Roy (1996-2003)

The easiest selection on the list, Patrick Roy may go down as the greatest goalie in NHL history. Only Martin Brodeur may be able to claim that spot in comparison. After arriving from Montreal with Mike Keane for Andrei Kovalenko, Martin Rucinsky, and Jocelyn Thibault, Roy did the unthinkable, leading the Avalanche to the Stanley Cup in his first half season. He finished the regular season with a 2.68 goals-against-average.

Roy would continue his dominance the next season, posting a .923 save percentage while leading the league in wins. He would go on to be part of the 2001 Stanley Cup winning team, posting an absurd 1.70 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage in the playoffs. Roy would finish his career as the NHL’s all-time wins leader.

He eventually had his number retired by the Avs in October of 2003.

Honourable Mentions:

Peter Forsberg, C, (1995-2011) scored 217 goals and 538 assists across 591 games for the Avs; The Stastny Brothers: Peter Stastny, center, (1981-1990) is the second highest scorer in franchise history with 1,048 points in 737 games, and Anton Stastny, left wing, (1981-1989) second leading scorer among left wingers in Colorado history, averaging just under a point-per-game pace across his nine year career; Ray Bourque, defenseman, (2000-2001) although only playing two seasons, Bourque had his number retired by the organization.

via Last Word on Hockey, by Nick McVicar

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