Twenty years ago, tonight, it finally happened. Ray Bourque, lifting the Stanley Cup in the final game of his brilliant 22-year NHL career. He did it as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. In the interest of giving y’all something to feel good about on this awful day-after from a gut-punch Game 5 loss to Vegas, I present a chapter from my 2016 book “100 Things Avalanche Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die.”
The chapter is entitled: “Mission 16W; Bourque lifts the Cup, with an assist from Sakic”.
Ray Bourque still would call it the greatest assist in hockey history 15 years after it happened, and he was the beneficiary.
Bourque played his first 21 seasons as a premier NHL defenseman but never won hockey’s biggest prize—the Stanley Cup. The first 20-plus seasons saw him in Boston, where the Bruins won a lot of games but never a Cup.
After a near-miss at getting one with the Avs in 2000, Bourque signed a contract for the 2000–01 season and told friends no matter what happened it would be his last. The Avs of 2000–01 were one of the best teams in NHL history, winning 52 games and breezing to a President’s Trophy. But they needed to win 16 more games for that Cup, and so the slogan “Mission 16W” was born.