I’ll admit, I believe in jinxes. I just do. Well, intellectually I don’t. I know they’re not really real. Right? But I still believe in jinxes. I believe in the Avalanche ex-player jinx. I’ve seen too many examples not to believe in it.
The most amazing jinx I’ve ever seen in sports is the one surrounding ex-Avalanche players in their first game back against them. It’s not surprising that many ex-Avs went on to have successful first games against them. I mean, Teemu Selanne was a guy who just torched the Avs after leaving following the 2003-04 season, but Teemu Selanne torched a lot of teams in his Hall of Fame career.
But when you look at many other players and how they did against the Avs in that first game against them? It’s pretty astonishing. Some of them only scored a handful of goals in their career, but they scored in that first game against the Avs following their departure. I’m going to run down a list of the top five most “amazing” curse-of-the-ex–Avs-jinx games, and it won’t include games by goalies – such as the 1-0 shutout Semyon Varlamov had in his first game against the Avs for the Islanders this season.
I may have forgotten some good ones for this list. If anybody remembers one I should have included, please put it in the comments.
Here we go:
DAN HINOTE, NOV. 2, 2006, WITH ST. LOUIS
Dan Hinote scored 38 goals in his 503-game NHL career. He scored in his first game against the Avalanche, with the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 2, 2006. It was the first goal of the game, of course, in the first period, of a 4-1 Blues win.
Hinote would score 11 goals in his three seasons with the Blues, before his NHL career finished. Four of them were scored against the Avs. Four.
I couldn’t find any video of that goal.
WOJTEK WOLSKI, MARCH 4, 2010, WITH ARIZONA
This was one of the most unbelievable goals in the long list of them in the curse of the Avalanche ex-player jinx. In a 1-1 game with under a minute left, Wojtek Wolski scored what proved the game-winner in a 3-1 win. He scored with 23 seconds left, against Craig Anderson.
What makes it more amazing: It was Wolski’s first game with the Coyotes, following his trade from the Avs, for Peter Mueller. I remember sitting there in the press box in Arizona, when the goal was scored, and thinking to myself, “OK, this curse is REAL.”
The goal can be seen here, at the 4:50 mark:
PETER FORSBERG, JAN. 14, 2006, WITH PHILADELPHIA
I remember sitting there, in the press box in Philly, saying to myself, “He’s gonna score, he’s gonna score.” And, of course, Peter Forsberg did score, against the Avalanche in this, his first game against them following his heartbreaking departure as a free agent following the 2003-04 season (well, the 2004-05 season, technically. That’s the one that was never played).
The Avalanche had a 3-1 lead with under three minutes remaining in this game. Mike Knuble made it 3-2 with 2:36 left, on a power-play goal set up by…Peter Forsberg.
With 1:12 left, the Flyers tied it. Forsberg, of course, scored the goal. I knew it was coming.
The Avs went on to win this game in overtime, thanks to a power play drawn by Joe Sakic, who was tripped. Alex Tanguay scored it.
Tanguay would be traded following this season, to Calgary. He scored a goal against the Avs in his first game against them, of course, on Nov. 28, 2006, a 5-2 Flames win.
I looked everywhere, but couldn’t find a video of that Forsberg goal.
JEFF FINGER, JAN. 29, 2009, WITH TORONTO
Jeff Finger had a pretty good season with the Avs in 2007-08, but nobody could have expected the contract he got as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Finger got a four-year, $14 million deal from the Leafs, which stunned everyone – even Finger himself.
He would only play two seasons with the Leafs, and he never played in the NHL beyond those two seasons.
On Jan. 29, 2009, the Maple Leafs came to the Pepsi Center. Finger hadn’t played in three weeks, prior to the game. He hadn’t scored a goal in 17 straight games. But, of course, he scored a goal against the Avs in this game. It was a goal that contributed to a 7-4 Maple Leafs win. Finger scored 17 goals in 199 career games.
It was a 2-2 game in the second period when Finger boomed a slap shot home for the go-ahead goal.
You can see it here, starting at around the 3:25 mark:
CODY MCLEOD, JAN. 14., 2017, WITH NASHVILLE
Cody McLeod played only 28 games for the Avs to that point in the 2016-17 season, with one goal, when he was traded to the Nashville Predators on Jan. 13, 2017. His first game for the Predators was the following day, in Denver against the Avalanche.
The Avs – the 48-point team of that season – had a 2-0 lead in the second period against a very good Preds team. McLeod had scored one goal in his previous 46 NHL games, with the Avs. But at 7:52 of the second period, the Predators scored, in a comeback that would finish in a 3-2 victory.
Cody McLeod scored that goal. It was his only shot of the game, in the 10 minutes, 12 seconds he played. He was a plus-2 in the win, and also had a fight, with Jarome Iginla. He was the first star of the game.
The goal can be seen here, at the 3-minute mark:
Because, of course he was. The Avalanche ex-player jinx is strong.