The Colorado Avalanche are a National Hockey League team based in Denver, Colorado.
Founded: 1972-1973 in the World Hockey Association (WHA); joined the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1979
When the Québec Nordiques found themselves experiencing on-ice success but off-ice financial failure during the lockout shortened 1994-95 NHL season team owner Marcel Aubut asked for a bailout from Quebec's provincial government. The bailout fell through and Aubut was forced to sell the team to a group of investors in Denver. The franchise was packed up and shipped to Colorado and renamed the Colorado Avalanche.
Colorado entered their first season in Denver with a very strong lineup that included such excellent players as captain Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, and defensive stalwart Adam Foote. The most important day for the franchise came in the trade of first round pick Eric Lindros. Lindros refused to play for the Nords citing the small town and the uncompetitive team. His trade and the eventual deals that stemmed from his trade brought such stars as Ray Bourque, Peter Forsberg, Alex Tanguay, Patrick Roy, and Rob Blake among other great payers. The original trade brought a first round pick, Steve Duchesne, Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Jocelyn Thibault, Chris Simon, Kerry Huffman, Ron Hextall, and $15 Million to the Nords. Few could anticipate the midseason trade that would make them a true powerhouse. On the 2nd of December, 1995 Patrick Roy was in net for the Montreal Canadiens when they lost to the Detroit Red Wings in their worst defeat in franchise history, 11-1. Roy had, many times in the past made up for mediocre play by his team, but this night was too much for even "Saint Pat"; Montreal coach Mario Tremblay kept Roy in goal for the first 9 goals. After the game Roy told Montreal team president Ronald Corey that it was the last game he would ever play for the Canadiens. On December 6 Roy was traded to Colorado along with Mike Keane for Andrei Kovalenko, Martin Rucinsky, and Jocelyn Thibault. With an already strong team and the addition of a hall of fame caliber goaltender, there was little anyone could do to stop them as Colorado steamrolled its way to it first Stanley Cup victory, which they won in a 4 game sweep of the Florida Panthers. The Stanley Cup winning goal was scored by defenseman Uwe Krupp in triple overtime.
The following season, the team had a good year, but was unable to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, falling to the eventual champion Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals 4-2.
The team continued to have strong teams that went deep into the post season, but failed to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, until the 2000-01 NHL season. The proceeding season (1999-2000) they picked up Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque who until that time had only ever played for the Boston Bruins and wanted one more shot at a Stanley Cup. Bourque had requested a trade and the Bruins facilitated a deal. On the 6th of March, 2000, Bourque was traded to Colorado with Dave Andreychuk for Brian Rolston, Martin Grenier, Samuel Pahlsson, and a first round pick. But the team was not done trading when they got Bourque. The following season, they further strengthened their blue line with the acquisition of star defenseman Rob Blake from the Los Angeles Kings for Adam Deadmarsh and Aaron Miller on the 21st of February, 2001.
The 2000-01 Avalanche were again a dominant powerhouse. They easily won the President's Trophy with a staggering 118 points and were poised to win Ray Bourque his first Stanley Cup after twenty-two years on the ice. Star forward Peter Forsberg had emergency spleen surgery after their second round series against the Los Angeles Kings and missed the rest of the playoffs. The Stanley Cup Finals was a grueling, very physical series between the Avalanche and the New Jersey Devils. After seven hard fought games the Avalanche had their second Stanley Cup championship. It is a tradition for the team captain to take the Stanley Cup from the commissioner and raise it above his head first and skate a lap around the rink before handing it to his teammates. But Joe Sakic broke that tradition in 2001 when he refused to lift the cup and in a true show of class handed it to Ray Bourque and insisted he lift it instead.
Colorado has been unable to recapture that moment of glory. They have consistently been an excellent team, in fact the 2003-04 NHL season was the first time since moving to Colorado that the team has not won its division, and it lost that by only one point to the Vancouver Canucks. Many people thought that 2003-04 might be the year that Colorado would win its third Cup because they had pulled an apparent coup by signing both Teemu Selänne and Paul Kariya who had been a powerful duo with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. But the tandem did not live up to many people's expectation and the hype surrounding the acquisition. Neither player was resigned after the end of the 2005 lockout.
Colorado Avalanche Overview:
Formerly Known As: Québec Nordiques (1972-1995)
Arena: Pepsi Center
Former Arena: McNichols Sports Arena (1995-1999)
Uniform colors: Crimson and blue
Logo design: A crimson letter "A", with a white swoosh extending from the left side ending in a hockey puck, simulating an avalanche.
Stanley Cups won: 1995-96, 2000-01