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NHL All-Time Teams: Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Colorado Avalanche legends Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy are now running the club's hockey operations. (USATSI)
Colorado Avalanche legends Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy are now running the club's hockey operations. (USATSI)

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Ah, hockey in the summer, where things come to a grinding halt for about two months in between one long season and another. To fill the void we at Eye on Hockey thought it would be fun to make an all-time team for each of the 30 organizations in the NHL today.

The ground rules: The teams will consist of a center, two wings (regardless of which side), two defensemen and a goaltender. A player must have spent at least 200 games with a franchise to be considered. So Bobby Orr won't be on the Blackhawks' roster or Wayne Gretzky for St. Louis.

Though recent years haven't been kind to the Colorado Avalanche, the franchise has a rich history with a depth of stars that spans two teams, the Avs and the Quebec Nordiques.

The Nordiques came onto the scene in 1979-80 and remained in Quebec City until 1994-95, when the team was moved to Denver. Those long-suffering Nordiques fans got to watch the rebranded Avalanche win the Stanley Cup in their first year in Colorado. That had to hurt.

Going back to the first year of the Nordiques, there has been a parade of stars as part of the team. Now some of those stars are playing a huge role in the future of the franchise in the front office. Former captain Joe Sakic is the president of hockey operations, while former all-world goalie Patrick Roy was recently named head coach. Avalanche fans will hope their newest superstar is already in the fold after Colorado selected Nathan MacKinnon first overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Will the Avs get back to the success of their glory years, which included two Stanley Cup titles and four other postseason trips that went all the way to the Western Conference finals? Well, Patrick Roy seems confident they can (photo via USATSI).


Joe Sakic: There have been several terrific centers over the years for both Colorado and Quebec, with Peter Forsberg and Peter Stastny the most notable, but none touches the accomplishments of Joe Sakic. Over a 20-year career that spans both teams, Sakic never played for another franchise in the NHL.

Sakic's name is at the top of a lot of categories in the franchise record book, including games played (1,378), goals (625), assists (1,016). His 1,641 points are obviously tops in the franchise and rank ninth overall in NHL history.

Sakic topped 100 points six times in his career, including two seasons of 50-plus goals. He won the Hart Trophy in 2001 as the league's MVP and also received the Ted Lindsay Award and Lady Byng that same season.

"Burnaby Joe" captained the team for 16 seasons and helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup in both 1996 and 2001. He earned the Conn Smythe Trophy in '96 after leading the playoffs with 18 goals and 34 points.

Sakic had many great moments, but his performance in Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Final will remain one of the best. He had an assist on the eventual game-winner and scored a goal on one of his trademark wristers. He also executed one of the best Cup handoffs in history. Instead of lifting the greatest trophy in sports himself first as is custom for the captain, Sakic passed it off to teammate Raymond Bourque for his moment in the sun after 21 years of waiting. It remains one of the great feel-good moments in Stanley Cup history.

Quite simply, Sakic was one of the best to ever play the game. He entered the Hockey Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2012 and his No. 19 is retired by the team.


Michel Goulet: One of the greats from the Nordiques era, Goulet was one of the league's most gifted goal scorers. He spent more than a decade in Quebec City and never scored fewer than 20 goals in a season for the Nords.

Goulet put together four straight 50-goal seasons between 1982 and '86. He finished his Quebec tenure with 456 goals, which ranks second in franchise history. His 945 points are good for third in club history as well. Goulet was a league All-Star selection five times, making the first team in 1984, '86 and '87.

Goulet's No. 16 is retired by the franchise. Though he never played for the Avs, he spent 16 years in the hockey operations department. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998, apparently for all the goals and not the mustache. Or maybe it was both.

Milan Hejduk: After 14 years with the Avalanche, Hejduk has amassed some impressive numbers. It's more impressive that he has maintained some solid production despite being part of the team during its recent rough patch, having missed the playoffs four out of the past five years.

Hejduk joined the team in 1998, so he missed the first Cup run, but he was an integral part of their second. In 11 of his 14 seasons, Hejduk has topped the 20-goal plateau. He had a career year in 2002-03 when he scored a league-best 50 goals to earn the Rocket Richard Trophy.

Just last year he appeared in his 1,000th game with the organization. His 1,020 games with the team are second only to Sakic, while he ranks fourth in goals with 375, fifth in assists with 430 and fourth in points with 805. He also served as the team's captain in 2011-12. Though Hejduk is not ready to retire, it appears his days in Colorado are over as the team did not extend him a new contract after last season.

Here's one of Hejduk's most memorable moments. After scoring the game-winning goal in a regular-season game against Dallas on a ridiculous move, he decided to go for a swim.


Adam Foote: One of just two players on this list to have played for both the Nordiques and the Avalanche, Foote spent 17 of his 19 seasons in the NHL with the franchise. He ranks third with 967 games played between Quebec and Colorado. His No. 52 will be retired by the team next season.

A physical defenseman with some offensive capabilities, Foote was a hard-nosed player over his career. That physical style took its toll as Foote never once played in all 82 games in a season. Despite battling injuries, he was a vital part of Colorado's blue line.

Foote, whose plus-129 is second best in franchise history, was part of both Stanley Cup teams. His 259 points rank second among all defensemen in franchise history and he is now a defense development consultant for the Avalanche.

Rob Blake: Though his best years came with the Los Angeles Kings, Blake made quite an impact on the Avalanche over four-plus seasons with the club. One of the great two-way defensemen of his era, Blake posted 208 points while in an Avalanche uniform.

He never finished with fewer than 45 points in any of his four full seasons with the club. Blake was a vital part of the team's 2001 Stanley Cup run, posting 19 points throughout the playoffs. It was the only Stanley Cup title of Blake's 20-year career in the league.

Though both Normand Rochefort and Jon Klemm had good arguments to make the all-time team, having both had longer stints, Blake's effectiveness in a relatively short span was just too good to ignore. After a stint with the NHL's department of player safety, Blake was recently named the Kings' assistant general manager.


Patrick Roy: It's funny how hockey can work. After getting shelled for nine goals against the Detroit Red Wings and getting pulled in the second period, Roy told Montreal Canadiens president Ronald Corey, "That's my last game in Montreal." It was and the rest was Avalanche history.

Roy proved to be the final piece to the Avalanche's Stanley Cup puzzle in their inaugural season in Denver. Coming over in a trade with Mike Keane for Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko, Roy's impact was immediate.

He was dominant during the 1996 Stanley Cup run with a .929 save percentage and 2.13 goals-against average in 20 appearances. He even provided one of the all-time great chirps to an opponent after some back and forth with then-Blackhawks forward Jeremy Roenick.

Roy remained in Colorado until 2002-03. He picked up his second Stanley Cup title with the team and fourth of his career in 2001. Roy earned the Conn Smythe Trophy, for an NHL-record third time, after posting the best playoff performance of his career. Saint Patrick collected a stunning .934 save percentage, 1.70 goals-against average and four shutouts in the 2001 postseason.

He is atop the Avalanche/Nordiques record books with a .918 career save percentage with the club, a 2.27 goals-against average, 262 wins and 37 shutouts amassed over a club-record 478 appearances.

His No. 33 is retired by the Avalanche and Roy was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006. He'll make his highly anticipated coaching debut this season. If there's one thing you can say about Roy, it should be a fun ride.

And because I needed an excuse to show one of the most (in)famous moments in Avalanche history, here's Patrick Roy vs. Mike Vernon in Colorado's line brawl with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997. This was the NHL's best rivalry in the mid-1990s by far.

Notable Omissions

Peter Stastny, Peter Forsberg, Anton Stastny, Normand Rochefort, Dale Hunter, Alex Tanguay, Adam Deadmarsh, Owen Nolan, Jon Klemm, Sandis Ozolinsh

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