The Franchise Four. The Mount Rushmore. Four players who tell the story of an organization. In this series I’ll be taking a look at the history of all 30 NHL squads. For criteria, I’m choosing one forward, defenceman, goaltender and a wild card from any position.
Since moving from Quebec in 1995, the Colorado Avalanche have won two Stanley Cup titles in 19 seasons.
During said time frame, the Avalanche have iced the likes of Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Roy, Adam Foote, Milan Hejduk, Ray Bourque, Rob Blake, Adam Deadmarsh, Alex Tanguay, Sandis Ozolinsh, Chris Drury and Claude Lemieux.
So, which players make their “Franchise Four?”
4. The Defenseman – Adam Foote
A workhorse on defense, Foote was a physical force with the Avalanche. Foote was part of two Stanley Cup title teams in Colorado. In franchise history, Foote ranks third (760) in games played and second (948) in penalty minutes. Foote was a rock in the defensive zone and averaged 26:24 minutes per game, across 170 postseason contests. Plus, Foote’s 53.1 defensive point share dwarfs virtually every player in club history.
3. The Goalie – Patrick Roy
Had the Quebec Nordiques never moved to Colorado, perhaps we’re talking about Stephane Fiset or Dan Bouchard. While the Avalanche added the likes of “hired guns” such as Ozolinsh, Lemieux, Blake and Bourque, the addition of Roy placed the league on notice. With a great young nucleus on the rise, Roy was the ultimate finisher. In Avalanche history, Roy ranks first (.918) in save percentage, goals against average (2.27), wins (262) and shutouts (37). A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Roy helped carry the Avalanche to a pair of Stanley Cup titles. Roy was a five-time All-Star with Colorado, won the 2000-01 Conn Smythe Trophy and the William M. Jennings Trophy in 2001-02. Along with his Conn Smythe Trophy, Roy posted 18 shutouts across 133 postseason games.
2. The Wild Card – Peter Forsberg (C)
The “other guy” in the Eric Lindros trade. Ah but not so fast. Peter Forsberg became a star in a flash. In his first and lone season with the Nordiques, Forsberg earned the Calder Memorial Trophy. With the shift to Colorado, Forsberg became an even bigger play-maker. Registering 30 goals, 86 helpers and 116 points, Forsberg added 21 points during the postseason, as the Avalanche captured their first Stanley Cup in 1995-96. Forsberg was especially clutch in the playoffs, twice leading the league in points (1998-99, 2001-02) and game winners (1999-00, 2001-02). During the 2000-01 postseason, Forsberg posted 14 points, helping Colorado to its second Stanley Cup title. After missing an entire season with an injured spleen, Forsberg came back with a flurry and his finest campaign. In 2002-03, Forsberg turned in a dominating year, recording 29 goals, 77 assists and 106 points, taking home both the Hart Memorial Trophy and the Art Ross Trophy. The five-time All-Star was also a solid defensive forward, finishing in the top eight for Selke Trophy voting four times. Forsberg ranks third in club history in goals (202), second in assists (503), third in points (705) and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
1. The Forward – Joe Sakic
Having already established himself with seven seasons in Quebec, Sakic’s game reached new heights with the Avalanche. Sakic is the franchise leader in goals (391), assists (624) and points (1,015). Sakic didn’t waste any time in his new surroundings, posting career highs for goals (51), helpers (69) and points (120) during the 1995-96 campaign. It was in the first season where Sakic was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, leading all postseason scorers with 18 goals, 34 points, 12 even strength goals, six power play goals and six game winning tallies, while guiding the Avalanche to their first Stanley Cup title. When the Avalanche won their second title in 2000-01, Sakic was at the forefront again. The 2000-01 campaign saw Sakic notch a career high 54 markers, on his way to winning the Hart Memorial Trophy, Lady Byng Memorial Trohpy and the Lester B. Pearson Trophy. It was also another huge postseason for Sakic, leading the NHL with 13 tallies, 26 points, five power play goals and three game winners. A seven-time All-Star with Colorado, Sakic, like Forsberg and Roy, is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Michael Gwizdala covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers. Michael is also an Associate Producer at WNYT NewsChannel 13. Additionally, Michael was once a Media Relations intern for the AHL Albany River Rats. Michael is a graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.