There is a lot of history behind the Colorado Avalanche franchise. Before it was based out of Denver, playing in burgundy and blue jerseys as it is now, the team was North of the border wearing powder blue threads as the Quebec Nordiques. Founded in 1972, the team has seen its fair share of historic talents pass through its ranks and that did not change after its relocation to Colorado in 1995.
With several Hall of Fame players and many great teams that went on to win two Stanley Cups, we take the best of the best at each position and make the Avalanche all-time starting lineup.
Criteria for Selections
The criteria used to qualify players to be selected for the all-time starting lineup are as follows:
- Players must have played a minimum of 200 games with the Avalanche/Nordiques.
- Players are selected to fill the position they have played through the majority of their career, not where they played during the time with the franchise.
- Player statistics shown are the totals for their time with the franchise not the entirety of their career.
Center: Joe Sakic (1989-2009)
Stats: 625 Goals – 1,016 Assists – 1,641 Points in 1,378 Games Played
This selection is a no-brainer. Joe Sakic is one of the few players to begin and end his 20-year NHL career with the same franchise. He was drafted by the Nordiques in 1988 and was named captain of the team in 1992, donning the honor on his jersey for the remainder of his career. As one of the greatest leaders the league has ever seen, Sakic led the Avalanche to two Stanley Cup titles, also winning the Conn Smythe with the first championship in 1996.
The Burnaby, British Columbia native is the franchise’s All-time points and goal leader and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012. The 13-time NHL All-Star is now trying to add another Stanley Cup championship to his already accomplished legacy as the team’s General Manager.
Left-Wing: Michel Goulet (1980-1990)
Stats: 456 Goals – 490 Assists – 946 Points in 813 Games Played
Michel Goulet may be one of the more forgotten names in such a storied franchise. He built his legacy on being one of the premier shooters of his time, scoring 50 goals four times in a row and holds the single-season franchise goal record putting up 57 in 1982-83.
The former first-round pick was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998 and had his number 16 retired by the club.
Right-Wing: Milan Hejduk (1999-2013)
Stats: 375 Goals – 430 Assists – 805 Points in 1,020 Games Played
The Czech Republic native was drafted by the Nordiques in the fourth round of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft and, like Sakic, spent his entire NHL career as a member of the Colorado franchise. His best year as a pro undoubtedly came when he scored 50 goals in the 2002-03 season, earning him the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy.
Hejduk ranks second in franchise history in games played and was part of the Stanley Cup team in 2001. His number will forever hang in the rafters of the team’s arena after the organization retired his jersey in 2018.
Defense: Adam Foote (1992-2004, 2008-2011)
Stats: 56 Goals – 203 Assists – 259 Points in 967 Games Played
Sure he may not be the flashiest player to suit up for the Avs, but his contributions to this organization will never go unnoticed. Foote was a fearless and physical defenseman. His tenacious style and bone-crushing hits made him adored by many fans throughout his career.
Although he served as an assistant captain for most of his time with the Avalanche, he was given the honor of captain in 2009-10. His leadership qualities made him a well-respected member of the organization and an essential piece in both Stanley Cup titles.
Defense: Rob Blake (2001-2006)
Stats: 62 Goals – 146 Assists – 208 Points in 322 Games Played
Although Rob Blake spent the majority of his 20-year NHL career with the Los Angeles Kings, he was one of the most iconic defensemen to sport the burgundy and blue. The Canadian blueliner was known for his booming slapshot and hard-nosed, two-way game, claiming the Norris Trophy in 1998.
He was acquired by the Avalanche late in 2000-01 and was a key contributor in the team’s quest for Lord Stanley. He won his first and only Stanley Cup Championship with the Avalanche in 2001 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.
Goaltender: Patrick Roy (1996-2003)
Stats: 262-140-65 record, 2.27 Goals-against Average, .918 Save Percentage in 478 Games Played
Patrick Roy, nicknamed “Saint Patrick,” didn’t get that name from being your average goaltender. He holds almost every goalie record in franchise history and was known for revolutionizing the goalie position, by introducing the butterfly style that many goalies use today.
The netminder has claimed his fair share of hardware for his accomplishments, including three Vezina Trophies, an NHL-record three Conn Smythe Trophies, to go along with four Stanley Cup Championships (two with Colorado). There’s little debate that with a resume like this, he is one of the best goalies the game has ever seen.
Head Coach: Marc Crawford (1995-1998)
Stats: 165-88-41 record in 294 Games Coached
Marc Crawford has transitioned his playing career into a well-established coaching career. His coaching style emphasized speed and offensive-minded play, which is perhaps what led to the Stanley Cup in 1996 considering the great offensive players the team had.
Crawford won the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year in 1995 and is the youngest coach in NHL history to accomplish the feat. He went on to win the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche the following season.
General Manager: Pierre Lacroix (1994-2006)
Stats: 2 Stanley Cups, 2 Presidents’ Trophies, 9 Division Titles
You can only dream of having the tenure at the helm of an NHL franchise that Pierre Lacroix had with the Avalanche organization. Manufacturing winning teams and making blockbuster trades was his forte.
He executed several major deals that played significant roles in orchestrating both Stanley Cup victories, including acquiring Patrick Roy in 1995-96, and Ray Bourque and Rob Blake in 1999-00 and 2000-01, respectively.
- Peter Forsberg (Center)
- Paul Stastny (Center)
- Sandis Ozolinsh (Defense)
- Nathan MacKinnon (Center)
Some of these players were legends within the organization and some were legends leaguewide. These fundamental players helped pave the way for the future of the Avalanche franchise and many players we know and love today. Whether they have continued their careers into the management side of the game or ventured elsewhere, their legacies on the ice will live on forever.
I am a graduate of Seneca Colleges Civil Engineering Technology Program and have turned my obsession for sports into a lifestyle. I cover the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings here on The Hockey Writers but have been a diehard Maple Leafs fan since birth. I love fantasy sports, collecting sports memorabilia and when I’m not watching the Toronto Raptors, Blue Jays, or Pittsburgh Steelers; you can find me playing for my ball hockey team, playing video games, or listening to classic rock with a cold one or a coffee in my hand.