I don’t do “listicles” too often, but with everything still shut down, at least when it comes to Avalanche games at least, I decided to do a “Five Greatest” list. My list of the Five Best Avalanche players of all time. Maybe the names won’t be a surprise, but it was damn tough for me to pick the order.
Number 5: Milan Hejduk
He’s gotta be on the list. He played 1,020 games, all with the Avs, scoring 375 goals and 805 points. He was a team captain. He won one Stanley Cup and one Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goal scorer. He was a big-game player, a leader in the room in a quiet, dignified way.
It’s too bad injuries caught up with him at the end, as he scored only 18 goals in his final 110 games. But he is in the pantheon, and, I hope he can sneak into the Hockey Hall of Fame too. I mean, guys with lesser numbers are in the Hall, and I think he has a legit chance eventually.
Here’s another underrated thing about Hejduk: he was gracious enough to hand off captaincy of the Avs to Gabe Landeskog, despite Landy being just a teenager and, to that point, the youngest captain in NHL history. Not a lot of guys would have done that – or at least have been as gracious about doing that.
Number 4: Adam Foote
When you ask who is the best defensive NBA player of all time TwinSpires mentions Bill Russell and Hakeem Olajuwon as their top pics. For us, no matter what anyone says, Adam Foote is in the pantheon of Avs greats.
Foote wasn’t the most technically gifted but his physicality and desire to win carried him a long way. In fact, it carried him to two Stanley Cup wins and, eventually, the Avalanche’s captain honors.
The formidable defender sits third on the all-time appearance list for the franchise and during his time with the Avs registered some pretty impressive numbers. He was more than a stats guy, of course. He was a gamer, a guy who was always there in the clutch, who was a true leader in the room.
Number 3: Peter Forsberg
OK, this is when the order gets damn tough. Having to put Peter Forsberg No. 3 on any Avs list is tough. I mean, he was just such a brilliant player, the most skilled Avs player I ever saw. But let’s face it, injuries hurt his case as being the greatest. He played 591 games for the Avs, but put up 775 points. He had 159 points in 140 playoff games for the Avs, with two Stanley Cup rings. He led the NHL in playoff scoring in 2002, despite missing all of the regular season.
His career points-per-game average of 1.25 remains in the top 10 all-time in the NHL. Forsberg wasn’t just a points machine though; he could do it all – attack, defend, roughhouse – everything. Everything, except stay consistently healthy. In 2014 he rightly found himself inducted to the Hall of Fame.
Number 2: Patrick Roy
I mean, he remains the greatest goalie of all time, at least in my opinion and those of many others. Thing is, more than half of his brilliant career was spent in Montreal, where he won two of his four Stanley Cups. He was just great from start to finish in his eight seasons in Colorado, though, winning two more Cups and a Conn Smythe Trophy in 2001. That last Conn came at age 36 and marked the third decade in which he won the award. No other player can say that.
It’s too bad his Avs coaching career kind of ended in ignominy, but he still won a Jack Adams Award in that first season, 2013-14.
Number 1: Joe Sakic
We gotta go with Mr. Avalanche, Joe Sakic, as No. 1. I mean, the numbers are overwhelming: 625 goals, 1,641 points, 1,378 games – all with the Avs and Nordiques. Two Stanley Cups, one Conn Smythe, one Hart Trophy, not to mention all the other accomplishments as a player, like being the MVP of the 2002 Olympics for Canada.
He was the ultimate team captain, a guy who led by example on and off the ice. He remains in the top 10 of all-time NHL scorers, and he’s No. 1 on this list as the greatest Avalanche player ever.
Any dissenters about this list? The floor is yours.