Ok, so it's officially the dog days of summer and there isn't a whole lot going on in the hockey world right now. There was a big free agent frenzy a few weeks ago and there are still a few names out there, but not a whole lot of activity overall.
Therefore, I've decided to compile my all-time Colorado Avalanche roster. Here...we...go...
Patrick Roy - No question here. His resume with the Avs and throughout his career speaks for itself. During his prime, no other goalie could even challenge him. Enough said.
At Center, Joe Sakic. The longtime captain and surefire Hall-of-Famer holds virtually every offensive Nordiques/Avalanche record possible and is the NHL's all-time leader in playoff overtime goals. Mike Haynes often called him the best clutch player ever. On Sakic's Left Wing, I would put Matt Duchene. Sure, Duchene is a Center, but he never got a chance to play alongside his boyhood idol and it would have been a sight to see the young #9 with the legendary #19. On the Right side, I would play Chris Drury. He's a former Calder Trophy winner and a versatile forward who has always played with tremendous passion and was a champion going back to the 1989 Little League World Series.
While the first line was purely hypothetical as Duchene never played with Sakic and Drury, my second line was in fact a very successful line; the AMP line. Alex, Milan, and Peter. Prolific scoring wingers Alex Tanguay and Milan Hejduk centered by probably the most talented Avalanche forward ever, Peter Forsberg. While Sakic quietly accumulated points, records, and HOF credentials, Forsberg was a frustrating enigma. With Sakic, you could barely notice he was on the ice and then he would get the puck, take one of his patented wrist shots, and the puck would be in the net. When Forsberg was on the ice, everybody knew it. He could handle the puck in such a way where everyone in the arena was dazzled and no defender could possibly take it from him. There was always an aura, a buzz when he was on the ice and especially when the puck was on his stick. Deservingly so, his #21 will be hanging from the Pepsi Center rafters in a couple short months.
On the third line, I would have Stephane Yelle, Claude Lemieux, and Adam Deadmarsh. Yelle won Cups with the Avs in both '96 and '01. Deadmarsh was the youngest member of the '96 team and was recently promoted to the Avs' Assistant Coach posistion. All Claude Lemiuex did was win 4 Stanley Cups with 3 different teams and prove to be one of the greatest playoff performers in the NHL. He won the Conn Smythe in New Jersey and always seemed to elevate his game in the postseason. Lemieux and Deader were two of the best power forwards the Avs ever had. Hopefully Landeskog can fill the long void.
On the fourth line I would have Dan Hinote, Ian Laperriere, and Mike Keane. Sure, they are not the most talented players who have ever played for the Avs, but they are three of the hardest workers. Hinote always brought energy, grit, and intensity always with a smile on his face. Laperriere did the same and even sacrificed his career by blocking two shots with his face. He won the Bill Masterton Trophy in 2011 without even playing a single game during the 2010-11 season.
The first pair would be Ray Bourque and Adam Foote. Bourque, arguably the greatest defenseman to ever play the game, only spent parts of two seasons with the Avs, but the Cup win in 2001 was for him. Adam Foote on the other hand, spent the majority of his career with the Avs and became only the second captain in franchise history. He was the toughest, best shut-down defenseman to play in Colorado. He played the final game of his career last year with a broken foot!
The second pair would be Rob Blake and John-Michael Liles. Rob Blake could do it all. He had a blistering slap shot from the point, he could stop breakaways with his long stride, and hit guys into next week with his freight train-like hip check. Liles, while small, was fast and could cut through the slot and score like a forward.
The third pair would be Sandis Ozolinsh and Erik Johnson. Ozo was the Avs' original offensive defenseman. When he was on the ice, it was essentially like having four forwards out there. While Johnson has only played a handful of game with the Avs, he is now the anchor of the Avs' D and will be the man on the Avs blue line. A former #1 overall pick, he is loaded with potential.
Let's face it, there's Patrick Roy and then there's everyone else. You could go with a stalwart backup like Craig Billington or Peter Budaj or go with someone who enjoyed flashes of brilliance as a starter that could not be sustained like Jose Theodore or Craig Anderson. Overall, I'd probably go with Craig Anderson. During the 2009-10 season, Anderson had the best season in net of any Avs goalie not named Roy.
The Avs have also seen noteworthy players like Jari Kurri, Theo Fleury, Pierre Turgeon, Teemu Selanne, and Paul Kariya don the "A" but it was either at the end of their careers like Kurri and Turgeon or their seasons were injury plagued and disappointing like Selanne and Kariya. All those players did great things in the NHL, but mostly with other clubs. Valeri Kamensky was another staple during the Avs' '96 Cup run and definitely deserves a shout out as does Paul Stastny, who is currently the Avs' most experienced center. On defense, Alexei Gusarov was the longtime partner of Adam Foote and guys like Jon Klemm and Greg deVries were always dependable as well.
Well, there you have it. I kinda feel like I'm missing a player or two and I'm sure a couple of my picks could be debatable. Until next time...