The Colorado Avalanche are in a bad situation. Having finished dead last with only 22 wins in the current season, the Avs were hoping to get a first overall pick in the 2017 draft. Unfortunately, they failed to do so and the New Jersey Devils had this honour. Lets flashback to a time when the Avalanche were a brutal force in the NHL.
The year was 2001. The Avs had multiple franchise players in their prime and ultimately finished the season first overall with 52 wins and 118 points. This excellence continued in the postseason where they acquired their second Stanley Cup. This is no surprise as coach Bob Hartley had all the necessary ingredients to make a successful cup run. A star goalie in Patrick Roy, a top-6 with incredible franchise players as well as a lot of secondary scoring from the bottom-six group. The Avs also had some solidity on defence. All of this was more than 15 years ago. What exactly happened to these stud players?
It is key to remember that hockey was the livelihood for these athletes. Most did not want to hang up the skates so easily and when it came time to lace up for their last game, these players decided to stay in the hockey field by taking management positions on NHL teams or playing overseas. Many of these players gave back to the community by hosting charitable events and giving back to the dedicated fans that supported them through good and bad.
16 Martin Škoula
Martin Škoula played the best hockey of his career in Colorado. Having scored 27 goals and 113 points in the five years he spent playing for the Avs, Martin played his defensive role in order to help lead the Avalanche to their second Stanley Cup.
After a decent effort in the 2001 Stanley Cup, Škoula floated around to five different NHL teams. After his services were no longer wanted in the NHL, Martin decided to play overseas, appearing in both the KHL and the Czech league. He eventually retired from hockey after the 2014-15 Czech league. A solid career from this talented Czech defender who appeared in more than 750 career games over his 10-year tenure in the NHL.
15 Dan Hinote
Dan Hinote was an American forward who played for the Colorado Avalanche and the St Louis Blues. During his nine-year tenure in the NHL, Dan helped the 2001 Avs team capture the Stanley Cup. Hinote was not the frequent scorer. He spent most of his career on the bottom-six of the lineup and this is where he thrived on the Avalanche roster, posting six points in 23 postseason games in that run.
After his hockey career was over, Dan acquired a job as the assistant coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets. This lasted until the 2014 offseason where he would not re-sign with his team. Hinote moved his retirement plans to Novi, Michigan where he is now living his life with his wife Amy McCarthy.
14 David Aebischer
David Aebischer will always be known as the infamous backup to star goaltender Patrick Roy but little did people know, he was able to hold down the fort. The 2003-04 season saw David take over the starters role and after appearing in 62 games, he posted a respectable .924 save percentage and a 2.09 goal against average. Not too shabby for young backup.
Unfortunately, Aebischer’s career fell short afterwards and he couldn’t muster up a decent performance. In 2012, he left to play in the Swedish league and finally announced his retirement after three years in 2015. Aebischer took on a coaching role after his retirement and tries to stay present in the hockey communities from his hometown of Switzerland.
13 Ville Nieminen
Ville Nieminen is another bottom-six forward who played a massive role for the 2001 Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup. The Finnish forward collected 14 goals and 22 points that year and his postseason performance saw him tally 10 points in 23 games. This was quite the feat as Ville was only 24 years old when he lifted the Stanley Cup.
Unfortunately, Nieminen was never able to replicate this performance and he found himself returning to the Finnish leagues by his early 30s. He did quite well in these leagues posting as high as 50 points in a single season. After a ton of hockey experience from these different leagues, Nieminen was offered a coaching position and he took it as a head coach with KeuPa in Finland.
11 Steven Reinprecht
Steven Reinprecht spent 11 years in the NHL spanning across five different NHL teams. His most notable appearance was in fact on the Colorado Avalanche where he posted a 46 and 51-point season early on into his career. Steven’s production did slow down once the playoffs hit and he only managed to put in 2 goals in those 22 postseason games.
After being demoted to the AHL affiliate in the 2010-11 season, Reinprecht decided to take his services to the German DEL league. He put up more than 50 points a season and was at the top of the points standings for many of those years. Reinprecht finally decided to call it quits after the 2015-16 DEL season after a lengthy hockey career.
10 Shjon Podein
Shjon Podein was one of the veteran forwards for the 2001 Colorado Avalanche team. He had a successful regular season after netting 15 goals and 32 points. Podein also provided 2 goals in the postseason. He earned the Clancy that year for showing exemplary leadership skills.
After a 10 year NHL tenure, Podein then played in the Swedish league and even had an appearance in the Japanese hockey leagues. This is not what exemplified his hockey career. Shjon was hugely prominent with charity work and even founded his own children’s foundation. He helped the youth get into hockey programs and did whatever he could to help the communities around him. Podein was a very likeable person and the fact that he gave so much back to the community only further proves that he deserves that King Clancy trophy.
9 Ray Bourque
Ray Bourque is a hall of fame defender who spent the majority of his career on the Boston Bruins. He found himself on the Colorado Avalanche roster in the 2000-01 season where he posted an incredible 59-point effort at 40 years of age. Age didn’t seem to stop the Montreal native as he ended his career with a bang by winning the Stanley Cup for the Avalanche. Bourque played more than 28 minutes a night in the postseason and notched 10 points in 21 games on his route to glory.
Bourque retired after that feat but it wasn’t long until we saw him inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He is still present in the Boston community as he participates in local charities and even owns his own Italian restaurant. Ray also passed his hockey knowledge onto his son, Christopher who was drafted by the Washington Capitals.
8 Rob Blake
Rob Blake is one of the best defenders to ever lace up the skates and one could only dwell on how unbelievable the Avalanche’s postseason run was thanks to Blake joining the lineup. After spending a decade in LA, Rob entered the Avalanche in full prime form. Scoring at a near point-per-game pace, Blake finished the postseason with 6 goals and 19 points. He was also one of the most impactful defenders as he played over 29 minutes per night.
After retiring from his stellar hockey career, Rob was not done. He took an executive role for the Los Angeles Kings front office staff. Starting off as an assistant general manager, the Kings won the Stanley Cup in his first year in office and in April of 2017, he was promoted to Vice President/General Manager of the entire team.
7 Chris Drury
Many people forget that forward Chris Drury began his career with the Colorado Avalanche and he did so with excellence. By his third season in Colorado, Drury was scoring at an incredible pace with 64 points in the regular season. He continued impressing in the playoffs by scoring 11 goals, 9 of them being even-strength goals. This ultimately resulted in a Stanley Cup ring and Chris played a huge part in this.
Unfortunately, injuries and age caught up to Chris and he retired from hockey at the age of 34. However, it was not long until he was back in the hockey scene as he earned the role of director of player development for the New York Rangers in 2015. Shortly after, Drury was named assistant general manager of the Rangers where he now manages the AHL affiliate team.
6 Milan Hejduk
Milan Hejduk is one of the best goal scorers to ever put on a Colorado Avalanche jersey. His resume supports this claim as he has scored a total of 375 career goals for his lifelong club. He is no slouch in the playoffs either. In the 2001 Stanley Cup run, Hejduk posted 23 points in 23 playoff matches in order to solidify the Avs top-six presence.
Unlike other players, once Milan retired from hockey…he retired from hockey completely. Instead of taking a management position or playing overseas like many of the other entries on this list, Hejduk actually took time off and enjoyed his life. After all, he does have twin sons to care of that we might one day see in the hockey spotlight following their father’s footsteps.
5 Alex Tanguay
Alex Tanguay is another forward who thrived in the Colorado Avalanche system. Alex was just 20 years old when the Avs won the 2001 Stanley Cup and his performance was sparked with consistency. A 27 goal, 77-point regular season and a 21-point playoff performance is what the Avs got out of the young Tanguay and surely they have no regrets taking him with the 12th pick of the 1998 NHL draft.
Tanguay actually played on several other teams, including the Flames, Habs and Coyotes before calling it quits and he finished his stellar career with a total of 863 points in 1,088 games. After his retirement, Alex took on a studio analyst role for the NHL network and decided to continue giving back to the community. He has made contributions to the Canadian Cancer Society and continues to be an excellent person that young hockey players look up to.
4 Peter Forsberg
What’s not to love about the Swedish Peter Forsberg? He was present for not one, but two Stanley Cups for the Colorado Avalanche. He played on one of the most exciting and talented top-six in hockey history. The plays and goals Forsberg would set up were just jawdropping at times. It is no wonder that he posted two 100-point seasons and was scoring at a point-per-game pace in the postseason.
After serving the Avs for 11 years and spending a bit of time in Nashville and Philadelphia, Peter decided to retire from the NHL. He moved his services to the Swedish hockey leagues where he was named assistant manager of the Modo organization. Along with this, Forsberg created a charitable foundation that uses professional hockey players to raise money for certain charities.
3 Joe Sakic
Here lies the greatest player to ever lace up the skates for the Avalanche. Joe Sakic starred in 1,378 games in the 20 years that he played for Quebec/Colorado. In that span, he acquired two Stanley Cup rings, 1641 career points and loads of unforgettable memories for fans watching across the globe. Sakic was a machine. He put up two 100+ point seasons in just the first three years of his NHL career. This didn’t stop there as his post-season performance was outstanding as well.
Sadly, Sakic did eventually retire after injuries limited his playing time in the 2008-09 season, but he was not done yet. Not long after retirement, Joe was back at it, taking the role of an advisor for his lifelong club. Soon after he found himself promoted to Executive Vice President and he was busy on the phone lines acquiring and signing players to make the current Avalanche team better and stronger. We all know he has loads of work to do.
2 Patrick Roy
We all know how star goaltender Patrick Roy ended up on the Colorado Avalanche and let’s just say that former Montreal Canadiens coach Mario Tremblay lost lots of sleep over what occurred that very night when the Habs faced the Detroit Red Wings. All of this aside, Roy won two Stanley Cups with the Avalanche after the infamous trade. The 2001 cup in particular saw Roy post an incredible .934 save percentage when he was in his mid 30s.
Patrick retired two seasons later but did not take a step back from hockey. Shortly after, he took on the role of vice president, owner and general manager for the Quebec Ramparts. Roy also faced criminal charges after punching an owner of another Quebec junior hockey team. He was pretty much everywhere and stayed relevant post-retirement even going as far as actually coaching for the Avalanche. Unfortunately, Patrick stepped down from his coaching duties due to a personal decision. He went 130-92-24 as coach for the Colorado Avalanche.
1 Bob Hartley
We’ve talked about the players but what about the coach? Coach Bob Hartley was lucky enough to be coaching a team full of talent and the 2001 playoffs were good for him as he walked away with glory. The Avs posted a stellar season during their cup win, winning 52 of their regular season games and suffering hardly any loses.
After this feat, the Avalanche tried to replicate their success in the following season but ultimately lost in the conference finals. Hartley was actually fired in the 2002-03 season as the team had failed to reach its previous mount of success. Bob did coach for two other teams afterwards. His last coaching duty was in 2016 where he was behind the bench for a Calgary Flames team that missed the post-season. All in all, Hartley made history for Colorado as he holds the title for the most all-time wins by any Colorado coach.
He is now coaching Latvia's men's national team.
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