NHL - CENTRAL
Arena: Pepsi Center
Coach: Jared Bednar
2021-2022 TEAM LEADERS
The Colorado Avalanche are an NHL team playing in the Central Division based out of Denver, Colorado. The Avs were created after the Quebec Nordiques were relocated in 1995 as a result of financial woes from such a small market. Despite being unable to find financial success, the Nordiques had a Stanley Cup contending team after acquiring Peter Forsberg and other assets from the Philadelphia Flyers for Eric Lindros- as a result, the Colorado Avalanche won their first Stanley Cup in their inaugural season of 1995-1996.
Colorado is currently an NHL powerhouse and cup favorite with one of the best forward and defensive groups in the league. Led by franchise center Nathan MacKinnon, defenseman Cale Makar, and other forwards such as Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and Nazam Kadri, Avs are considered one of the clear favorites for the cup when healthy. Unfortunately, it seems as though the team is allergic to being completely healthy all at once, particularly in the playoffs.
After the WHA merged with the NHL in 1979, the effects of the small market size of the Quebec Nordiques began to become more and more noticeable. Despite the attempts of the local government to keep the team in Quebec, the franchise was sold in July of 1995 and relocated in Denver Colorado. Following the massive trade that saw Eric Lindros sent to Philadelphia for Peter Forsberg, the franchise was already a solid playoff contender. The team was made even better after goaltender Patrick Roy signed with the franchise after a famous blowout loss caused him to leave the Montreal Canadiens in the middle of the game. With long-time captain Joe Sakic, the team went on to win their first cup in 1996.
Colorado would enjoy 10 straight years of playoffs, with eight straight division wins and another cup coming in 2001. The Avs became notorious for their fierce and bloody rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings during this stretch, as both teams were clear cup contenders and had bad blood due to some big hits leading to stars getting injured.
From 2011 to 2017, the Avs would only make the playoffs once with a first-round exit. The team had a historically bad season in 2016-2017, finishing with a record of 22-56-4 and dropping to the fourth pick due to the draft lottery. Despite losing out on the first overall pick, the Avs would select franchise defenseman Cale Makar at fourth overall, qualifying for the playoffs for four straight seasons since.
2022 Key Stats
The Avs had a slow start to the 2021-2022 season due to a revolving door of injuries to key players. However, it seems that the team is finally back to full strength at the halfway mark of the year. Colorado is currently tied with the Florida Panthers for the top team in the league with a record of 30-8-3, sitting at the top of the Central Division with 63 points. However, regular-season success isn’t going to cut it for most Colorado fans this year, who are likely more concerned with the team’s ability to go deep in the playoffs with this core.
Nazem Kadri is the leading scorer for the team this year, with 16 goals and 39 assists in 38 games. Kadri has been absolutely electric this season, enjoying an elevated role due to the consistent injuries to other forwards earlier in the year. Clearly, Kadri has proven that he is more than capable of filling in on the top line spot with a scoring pace well over a point per game.
Mikko Rantanen (49), Nathan MacKinnon (43), Cale Makar (41), Gabriel Landeskog (41), and Devon Toews (32) are all on a point per game pace or higher, accentuating Colorado’s ability to score every night.
Darcy Kuemper has been excellent in net when healthy, with a record of 20-5-1 and an SV% of .913 this season.
Championships Won by the Team
The Avs have won two championships in franchise history, taking their first title in their inaugural season in Colorado in 1996. Long-time Nordique captain Joe Sakic had been with the franchise since 1987 and had been through some of the worst years in the Nordiques’ history. However, Sakic was able to lead the Colorado Avalanche to their first win with 34 points, earning the Conn Smyth trophy as the playoff MVP as the team swept the Florida Panthers for the title. The introduction of Patrick Roy was also crucial to the Avs winning their cup, giving them elite goaltending throughout their first decade of existence.
Colorado would win their second cup in 2001, once again led by Joe Sakic and his 118 point regular season. This time, it was Patrick Roy that would win the Conn Smyth as the playoff MVP, leading the team to a 4-3 series win over the defending champs in the New Jersey Devils.
Important Team Events
During Colorado’s 2000 season, the team acquired long-time Boston Bruin Ray Borque. Borque was nearing the end of his career and had played in Boston since 1979 and, despite being one of the league’s best defensemen, had never won a Stanley Cup. Requesting to be traded to a contender for one last shot, Borque joined the Avalanche in March of 2000, playing with the team until they were eliminated by the Dallas Stars in seven games.
Borque played for the Avs again the following season, this time joining the ride all the way to a Stanley Cup victory. In one of the most memorable moments in the history of the NHL, captain Joe Sakic took the cup and immediately handed it to Ray Borque, who raised the trophy in one of the greatest moments in North American sports.
Joe Sakic is undoubtedly one of the top players of both the Colorado Avalanche and the NHL. Sakic remained part of the Nordiques and Avalanche for the entirety of his career, from being drafted by Quebec in 1987 to his eventual retirement in 2009, setting a franchise record of 1378 games played in the process. Sakic was an extremely dangerous player on the ice, scoring 625 goals and 1016 assists- both franchise records. Sakic currently sits at 16th in the all-time NHL scoring records at 1641 points. Sakic has remained integral to the franchise even after retiring, currently managing the team as the GM.
Patrick Roy set most franchise records for goaltending, playing a total of 478 games with Colorado. Roy currently holds the franchise records for wins at 262 and shutouts at 37. Additionally, Roy is the only goaltender to ever win the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP on three different occasions, winning his third with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.
The current roster of players like Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon may not have many franchise records yet but are certainly talented enough to become some of the best the franchise has to offer.
The Colorado Avalanche have only had seven coaches in franchise history, currently led by Jared Bednar. Bednar took over for the team during the disastrous 2016-2017 season, taking over for former player Patrick Roy. Bednar has been fairly successful overall, currently sitting with a record of 200-149-39.
Roy led the team from 2013-2016, winning the division in his first year and briefly bringing the Avalanche back into the fold; unfortunately, the team lost in the first round in a seven-game series against the Wild and failed to make the playoffs again.
The most successful coaches in Avalanche history were Marc Crawford and Bob Hartley. Crawford led the team from its inception in 1995 through 1998, while Hartley coached from 1998 until 2002. Both coaches were able to secure a cup for Colorado, each boasting over a .600 win percentage in the regular season and playoffs.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Colorado Avalanche joined the league as the Quebec Nordiques in 1979, but were relocated and rebranded as the Colorado Avalanche in 1995.
Joe Sakic is undeniably one of the greatest players in the history of the NHL, leading the team to both of their Stanley Cup wins and currently presiding as the team’s General Manager.
Colorado has won two cups, once in 1996 and again in 2001.
Roy left the Montreal Canadiens 24 games into the 1995-1996 season after being kept in the net in an 11-1 blowout loss. After being pulled in the second, Roy informed the Habs GM that he would never play for Montreal again, forcing a trade and joining the Avs for their first cup win in 1996.
During the early 2000s, the Avs had an extremely heated rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings that often resulted in a number of bloody brawls. Detroit has since been relocated to the Eastern Conference, resulting in the two teams meeting only twice a year. In the modern era, the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild have begun to form a fierce rivalry as both teams have remained in the same division since the Wild’s inception in 2000. Games between the clubs are usually a playoff atmosphere and is one of the more underrated rivalries in the league. Keep your eye on this one!