The Colorado Avalanche are an NHL franchise in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference.
The Avalanche began their existence in the WHA as the Quebec Nordiques. Quebec was successful in the WHA, winning the championship in 1977 and losing in the finals in 1975. Because of their success, they were granted admittance into the NHL. After a successful run in the 1980s, the Nordiques earned a number of high draft picks after some poor seasons in the early ‘90s. The team drafted three superstars, including Mats Sundin, Owen Nolan and Eric Lindros. The most notable of these picks was Eric Lindros who refused to sign with Quebec. The Nordiques traded the highly regarded power forward to Philadelphia for Peter Forsberg, five other players, two draft picks and $15 million. The trade helped create the foundation for one of the most successful franchises in the mid-‘90s. In 1995, Quebec moved to Colorado after financial struggles created a need to find a larger market for the club.
In Colorado, the Avalanche were immediately one of the top teams in the league. Along with Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote staying with the team through the move, star goalie Patrick Roy was added to the team in 1995. The Avalanche rode Roy’s star play and a high-powered offense to a division title and the playoffs. Colorado beat out Vancouver, Chicago and Detroit on the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they swept Florida to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. The next year, the Avalanche rekindled a rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings, losing a heated Conference Finals matchup in six games.
Colorado remained successful, continuing to win their division on a consistent basis. In 2000, Colorado picked up future Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque. The following season, Bourque and defenseman Rob Blake helped lead the Avs to another Stanley Cup, Bourque’s first in his career. The Avalanche continued to play well after the turn of the century, setting a record for division titles in 2002-03, after winning their 9th straight title. Colorado has made the playoffs a number of times, losing in the Conference semi-finals and Conference finals on multiple occasions. After the lockout, Colorado suffered the loss of some of their top players due to salary cap restrictions. In 2006-07, Colorado missed the playoffs in a packed Western Conference, despite finishing the season with 95 points. Colorado was swept in the second round of the 2008 playoffs by the Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.
Colorado plays out of the Pepsi Center which holds 18,007 hockey fans.
Notable Players: Rob Blake, Ray Bourque, Adam Deadmarsh, Chris Drury, Adam Foote, Peter Forsberg, Milan Hejduk , Valeri Kamensky, Paul Kariya, Uwe Krupp, Claude Lemieux, Owen Nolan, Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic, Teemu Selanne, Paul Stastny, Mats Sundin, Alex Tanguay