02 January 2010
Avs All-Decade Team
LW - Alex Tanguay (2000-2006)
Picture from UPI.com
You know, Alex Tanguay wasn't very good in his own end, and I know some Avs fans like to compare guys like Marek Svatos to Tanguay because neither are very good in their own end. But Alex Tanguay sure scored a lot of points, and scored them pretty regularly for the Avs. We all wish Marek Svatos could replicate Tanguay's success here.
In fact Tanguay scored a superb .910 PPG during his Avalanche tenure, (375 points over 412 games). That's frankly outstanding, especially in the trap-era. All Alex Tanguay did was score points, mainly goals. Some critics will point out that Tanguay benefited greatly from being on a line with Joe Sakic for most of his career, and they are right, but Tanguay took that opportunity and ran with it.
In the playoffs Tanguay actually got off to a horrendous start, scoring only 3 points in 17 games for the Avs in the '00 playoffs (.176 PPG, after posting a .671 PPG in the regular season). The next season he fared better, scoring 21 points in 23 games: two of which you may remember.
Alex Tanguay: Colorado Avalanche Left Wing of the Decade
C - Joe Sakic (2000-2009)
I hope the suspense for this one didn't kill you. The NHL's Center of the Decade was the easy choice here, and frankly I'm not sure what there is too say that I didn't say in my 19 Top Joe Sakic moments tribute post. Sure, a good portion of those moments are in the 90's, but let's face facts. The Avs eras aren't broken into 90's and 00's, they are broken into 19 and post-19.
But if you want to be a stickler and talk only about the 00s (which is kinda the point) here we go. 556 games played, 236 goals, 622 points which works to a 1.18 PPG average. Oh, then there's the playoffs: 96 games, 94 points ONLY .979 PPG, 9 of those were Playoff game winners as well.
And frankly there's just not much more to say
Joe Sakic: 2000s Colorado Avalanche Center of the Decade
RW - Milan Hejduk (2000-Present)
Picture stolen from an old Blogspot post by Mr. Mirtle
Another no-brainer. No Avalanche has played more games for the Avs in the '90s than Milan Hejduk. None have scored more goals either. Hejduk played in 696 games in the 00s, and scored 295 goals. He finished with an even 600 points for the decade and a .862 PPG average. Not too shabby.
Hejduk has a 50-goal season, in which he won the Rocket Richard trophy, 4 more 30 goal seasons, and 2 more 25+ goal seasons. (he's on pace for 29 this season). He's also been a pillar of reliability. In only one season did he play less than 74 games ('01-02: 62 games played). He also played in 93 playoff games, scoring 63 points. In '01 he scored 23 points in 23 games as the Avs won the Cup.
Milan Hejduk is the only Avs player to play every season in the 00s with the Avs, and he has been superb the entire time. He will undoubtedly have his #23 retired when he finally decides to hang-up his skates. Until then
Milan Hejduk: 2000s Colorado Avalanche Right Wing of the Decade
D - Adam Foote (2000-2004, 2008-Present)
Picture taken from The Hockey News
The biggest, meanest, nastiest, defenseman the Avs have ever had, also happens to be a defensive stalwart that could pound pretty much every opposing forward into submission. Foote isn't the enforcer, but he has been the protector of Avalanche Goaltenders throughout his career. If someone starts getting a little close to Roy, Aebi, or Budaj, Mr. Foote was sure to let them know about it.
As a defensive-defenseman, his stats really don't matter all that much, because it wasn't his job to score points. But he did play in 263 games for the Avs this decade, and he had 125 points. For a defensive defenseman who didn't see a whole lot of power-play time... that's not too shabby.
More important, of course, is his play in the playoffs. He was almost always matching up against the opponents best lines during the playoffs. That meant his opponents on any given shift in the playoffs were guys like: Yzerman, Federov, Modano, Langenbrunner, Hull, Roenick, Doan, Sedin (x2), Naslund, Robitaille, Palffy, Turgeon, Elias, Sykora, Mogilny, Holik, Marleau, Nolan, Gaborik and the likes.For holding down the fort against those guys:
Adam Foote: 2000s Colorado Avalanche co-Defenseman of the Decade
D - Rob Blake (2001-2006)
There were some big expectations placed on Blake since he was traded for '96 cup winner and fan favorite Adam Deadmarsh, along with the steady reliable defenseman Aaron Miller. Well his booming slap shot and devastating hip check delivered, helping the Avs win the Cup in '01 with 19 points in 23 games, which is phenomenal for a defenseman. (For the record, that's at least 5 Avs that had a pretty phenomenal '01 playoffs.)
Not content to let Deadmarsh and Miller go for a playoff rental, the Avs kept Blake around for 4 more seasons. In that time Blake played in 309 games and had 198 points (to go along with the 13 games and 10 points he played for the Avs in the '00-'01 reg season). Most players see their scoring dip in the postseason, since they are playing better opponents, but Blake's Avs postseason numbers actually increase from his career regular season .606 PPG to .632 PPG for the Avs post-season.
Rob Blake: 2000s Colorado Avalanche co-Defenseman of the Decade
G- Patrick Roy
Another "Duh" choice. A Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe immediately puts you in the driver seat for any "player of the decade" debate. Had he not retired when he did, he may well have beaten out Martin Brodeur for Goaltender of the decade, but he walked away, still at the top of his game, in 2003 at the age of 37. Don't believe he was at the top of his game at 37? Well in '02-03 he played in 63 games and sported a .920 save %, which was still one of the best seasons of his career.
Roy was villain #1 for a lot of opponents fans, but for the Avs he was the straw that stirred the proverbial drink. Cocky, brash and arrogant, he had the skills to cash the checks that his mouth made. The competitive fire in Roy was more ruthless and focused than any athlete I've ever seen (and yes, I include Jordan there).
My favorite Roy story is how after being serenaded with 1000s of plastic Rats in the '96 Cup Finals he said "No More Rats" and Florida never scored another goal in the series. My second favorite was when he overheard Melanie Brodeur mention that the Devils were going to win the cup in Game 6 of the '01 Finals, and he responded by saying the Devils wouldn't score another goal in the series... and he was mad at himself when they put only one on the board in Game 7. The debate for greatest of all-time is up in the air (For the record: Fact: Roy was better than Brodeur.) but there's no debate here:
Patrick Roy: 2000s Colorado Avalanche Goaltender of the Decade