Post-season heroes come in all forms from the star player to the unknown fourth-liner. We all know the exploits of the great playoff performers. However, we hardly hear about the unlikely playoff heroes. These unlikely post-season stars can contribute in many ways. Contributions could be for an entire playoff run, a series, a game or even a goal. These unlikely heroes have made big plays that no one expects. This series looks at all of these unknown stars. These are the unlikely Colorado Avalanche playoff heroes.
Colorado Avalanche Playoff Heroes
Before the Moment
Dan Hinote had been a grinder for Colorado since joining the franchise in 1999-00. He had barely averaged more than 10 minutes in his second season with five goals and 15 points in 76 games. At the time, the 24-year-old was not needed to do much except try to check opponents. However, the 2000-01 Stanley Cup Finals presented an outstanding run for the young Florida native.
The 2000-01 Finals was tremendous for Hinote. He had an assist in the opening game against the New Jersey Devils, which set the tone for the entire series. He would ultimately score one goal and four points in the seven-game series, including an assist to Alex Tanguay in the decisive final game. The majority of his playoff scoring came in that Finals series, which only amounted to two goals and six points in 23 games. Hinote would never score more than three points in any of his remaining five postseason appearances.
2000-01 was a high-water mark for Hinote. He skated in over 500 games, but his role was very limited until he retired in 2008-09 with 38 goals and 52 points. None of that matters though, because his play against the Devils was just enough to get him that coveted Stanley Cup Championship.
Greg de Vries
Before the Moment
Greg de Vries was a secondary defender for the Avs during the 2001-02 team. He was a fine option, but his regular season numbers were never that exciting. He had scored just eight goals and 20 points in 82 games while averaging 23:03. That, plus his mediocre performance in 2000-01, meant nobody would have predicted what was to come in the playoffs.
De Vries was a huge surprise during Colorado’s run to the Conference Finals where they fell to the Detroit Red Wings in seven games. He finished fourth on the team in scoring with four goals and 13 points. De Vries found a way to contribute to a surprising number of goals despite having no one series that stood out. That postseason run stands out in a big way, as he never scored more than three points in any of his other nine playoff appearances.
De Vries was a steady presence with several teams after that run with Colorado. He joined the New York Rangers in 2003, but went to the Ottawa Senators in 2004 and then the Atlanta Thrashers in 2005. His final years came with the Nashville Predators after that. Overall, de Vries played for six teams from 1995-96 to 2008-09. He scored 48 goals and 194 points in 878 games, but his best years were easily the ones he spent in Colorado.
Before the Moment
Marek Svatos was a rookie when he had his moment in the 2003-04 playoffs. Colorado had drafted the 5′-10″ Czech winger in the seventh round of the 2001 Draft. He debuted that same year with two goals in four games. He was on the postseason roster despite playing in just two games in October and April, but that masked a surge that was coming. He became an unlikely Colorado Avalanche playoff hero.
Things started out slowly. Svatos had three assists in the team’s first four games against the Dallas Stars, but he exploded for three assists in the decisive Game 6. He was the primary assist on three of the team’s five goals, including the eventual game-winner from Steve Konowalchuk. Svatos would score no points in the team’s series loss to the San Jose Sharks, but he was a huge part in that first set of games.
That postseason performance might have set Svatos up for success in the next few seasons. He scored 32 goals and 50 points in 2005-06 en route to a fifth-place finish in the Calder Trophy race. He then scored 30 or more points in each of the next three seasons before falling into mediocrity. Svatos left the NHL for the KHL after the 2010-11 season. Unfortunately, he passed away suddenly at the age of 34 in 2016. It was truly a sad end to someone who delighted fans in both North America and Europe.