Legends of Hockey - Spotlight - Colorado Avalanche - 1996
Spotlight
One on One Turning Point

Turning Point - Colorado Avalanche - 1996
Peter Forsberg was part of two Stanley Cup winners in Colorado and was also the recipient of both the Hart and Art Ross Trophies in 2003.
Peter Forsberg was part of two Stanley Cup winners in Colorado and was also the recipient of both the Hart and Art Ross Trophies in 2003.
The Colorado Avalanche arrived in the National Hockey League with great momentum in 1995-96. Their previous incarnation, the Quebec Nordiques, had finished first in their division before the franchise upped and moved to Denver. But the turning point for the team was, in fact, a series of three trades that went on to establish the Avalanche as one of the great teams in recent NHL history.

Already a Stanley Cup winner, Patrick Roy, would help the Avalanche to titles in both 1996 and 2001.
Already a Stanley Cup winner, Patrick Roy, would help the Avalanche to titles in both 1996 and 2001.
A trade between the Quebec Nordiques and the Philadelphia Flyers definitely set the table for the franchise's success. On June 30, 1992, the Flyers sent Peter Forsberg, Steve Duchesne, Ron Hextall, Kerry Huffman, Mike Ricci, $15 million and a first round pick in 1993 (Nordiques selected goaltender Jocelyn Thibault), a first round selection in 1994 and future considerations that evolved into Chris Simon to Quebec in exchange for the first overall draft selection that summer, Eric Lindros, who indicated to all that he had no intention of ever playing for the Nordiques. The trade set up the franchise for the next decade.

Ray Bourque arrived in Colorado in March of 2000. The following season he would play a key role in the franchise’s second Stanley Cup title.
Ray Bourque arrived in Colorado in March of 2000. The following season he would play a key role in the franchise's second Stanley Cup title.
On December 2, 1995, Patrick Roy was in goal at home as the Montreal Canadiens were facing the Detroit Red Wings. He allowed five goals in the first period and four more in the second period as the Habs eventually suffered their worst home loss in franchise history, losing 11-1. Coach Mario Tremblay finally pulled Roy midway through the second period, inserting Pat Jablonski between the pipes. Roy stormed off the ice, brushed past his coach and walked up to team president Ronald Corey and declared that it was his final game in Montreal. He believed that Tremblay had left him in the goal that long simply to humiliate him. He was subsequently suspended by the Canadiens. Four days later, Montreal traded Roy and Mike Keane to the Colorado Avalanche, receiving Andre Kovalenko, Martin Rucinsky and Jocelyn Thibault in return in what is deemed one of the most lopsided trades in the history of the Montreal Canadiens.

The Colorado Avalanche rode to the Stanley Cup championship in their inaugural season in Denver. But while they still were dominant during the regular season, they did not win another Stanley Cup until 2001.

In March 2000, Ray Bourque had requested a trade from the Boston Bruins, hoping that he would get the chance to win the Stanley Cup before he retired. The Bruins shipped Bourque to Colorado, along with Dave Andreychuk, in a trade for Martin Grenier, Sammy Pahlsson, Brian Rolston and a first-round draft pick. Bourque had waited longer to enjoy a Stanley Cup celebration than any other Cup-winning player had in the 108-year history of the Stanley Cup, having played 1,612 regular season and 214 playoff games before winning the Cup. Although Colorado did not win the Stanley Cup that spring, Bourque returned in 2000-01, and played a key role as the Avalanche won their second Cup that season.

"What made it so special was the players we had on our team," stated team captain, Joe Sakic. "The best thing about those teams was that we had some great players, but we all got along really well. We had a lot of character. The chemistry was good and no one put themselves ahead of the team. We just had one goal, and that was to win championships."

And win championships they did.

The Colorado Avalanche: one of the unheralded dynasties in NHL history.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.