The Colorado Avalanche are a professional hockey team that plays in the Western Conference's Northwest Division of the NHL. They share the Pepsi Center with the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the NLL's Colorado Mammoth, and the AFL's Colorado Crush. The Avalanche have won two Stanley Cups and have been division-leading playoff contenders for 9 years straight (1995-2004). The team colors are burgundy, dark blue, white, and black. The logo consists of a large burgundy "A" that has an avalanche of snow falling down the front, ending with a hockey puck at the base of the letter. Their secondary logo is a large foot, presumably belonging to an abominable snowman.

The Colorado Avalanche came into existence when the Quebec Nordiques franchise was moved to Denver, Colorado in 1995, after the team was purchased by the Denver-based COMSAT Entertainment Group, Inc. Its name was decided through a local poll taken by COMSAT. The team is now owned by Stan Kronke who also owns the Nuggets and the Can. He also has money invested in the other two teams hosted at his arena.

The franchise itself started out when the Quebec Nordiques joined the World Hockey Association in 1972. After the WHA folded in 1979, the team joined the NHL.

The Nordiques did not perform well. Though they built up an exciting roster with NHL greats like Michel Goulet, Dale Hunter, Jacques Richard, Anton Stastny and Peter Stastny, the team infrequently made it to the playoffs. The Nordiques did, however, make excellent draft choices, bringing in notable players such as Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, Adam Foote, and Owen Nolan. The draft choice that caused the most talk was Eric Lindros. Lindros was drafted first overall by Quebec in the 1991 draft, despite public announcements he made about not wanting to play for the team. Lindros sat out for a year, choosing to play in the Canada Cup instead. In the 1992 draft, the Nordiques had traded Lindros in a multi-player deal to the New York Rangers but the Philadelphia Flyers complained. The Flyers argued that a verbal agreement had been made between them and the Nordiques. An independent arbitrator was brought in to settle the dispute and he ruled that Philidelphia was to receive Lindros and in exchange, Quebec would get Peter Forsberg, Chris Simon, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, Ron Hextall, two draft picks and $15 million.

The team was moved to Denver in 1995 and brought in a new General Manager by the name of Pierre Lacroix. Lacroix, who is now famous for making big name trades at the right times, acquired notable players Sandis Ozolinsh and Claude Lemeiux. The biggest move Lacroix made, however, was acquiring Patrick Roy from the Montreal Canadiens after an incident in which Roy vowed never to play for the Habs again. The Avalanche went on to win the Stanley Cup that year, sweeping the expansion Florida Panthers under the direction of head coach Marc Crawford.

In 1998, Crawford declined a contract extension after an early playoff exit, which brought in newcomer Bob Hartley. Hartley brought the team all the way to the Conference finals in his first year, where the were ousted by the Dallas Stars. 1999 was also the year that the Avs moved from the aging McNichols Arena to the brand new Pepsi Center.

2001 was a banner year for the team. The Avalanche hosted the NHL All-Star Game that year in Denver, and later won their second Stanley Cup. After flying through the first three rounds of the playoffs, the Avs beat the New Jersey Devils in seven games. The win was especially sweet for Ray Bourque, a seasoned defenseman traded from the Boston Bruins to the Avalanche the previous season. After winning his first Stanley Cup after 22 seasons, Bourque wisely retired, and the Avs retired his jersey, number 77.

The 2002-2003 season brought along more coaching changes. Bob Hartley was fired by Pierre Lacroix after the team started the season with an abysmal record. He was replaced by his assistant coach, Tony Granato. Granato turned the team around and got them the division championship, which gave them the record for the most consecutive division championships. But the Avalanche were quickly ousted in the first round of the playoffs by the Minnesota Wild.

The end of the season brought news of Patrick Roy's retirement, speculation about the return of Peter Forsberg (who eventually inked a one year deal with Colorado), and the signing of hotshots Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya. The Colorado Avalanche suddenly became one of the favorites to win the 2004 Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, many players were big disappointments.

Paul Kariya, Rob Blake, and Peter Forsberg all had an injury-plagued season. Teemu Selanne was healthy, but played nowhere near expectations without his linemate Kariya. Veteran goaltender Tommy Salo was brought in as a backup to replace the still nervous rookie, Phillipe Sauve. In fact, the only player who seemed consistent was David Aebischer, a second year goalie who stunned all the critics with outstanding play almost every game. Probably one of the most significant losses of the season came from the now infamous attack on rookie Steve Moore, who was struck from behind by veteran Todd Bertuzzi, leaving him with a broken neck and other injuries.

While the Avs performed well in the first round of the playoffs against the Dallas Stars, the San Jose Sharks made the second round a quick one, finishing off Colorado in just 5 games.

At the end of the year, there was another new coach as recently fired St. Louis Blues coach Joel Quennville took over. Tony Granato stayed with the team, taking a demotion as the new assistant coach. With a lockout looming, many of the Avs stars signed on for one or more years, disregarding the potential end; while others were tempted by a different road and signed on with the new WHA or other foreign teams around the world.

2005 brought the end of the NHL lockout and the beginning of a new season for the NHL. Colorado would be celebrating their 10th year in existence, but without a few of its top stars. In what were seen as unnecessary losses by Pierre Lacroix, the Avs would be skating without original Nordiques Peter Forsberg, who returned to the Flyers, and Adam Foote, who signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Another addition was former Vancouver Canuck Brad May. May's signing was seen as a disrespectful move by Lacroix, due to the fact that May had been a key player in the attack on Steve Moore, and was even named as defendant in a related lawsuit.

Avalanche games are televised locally on the Altitude Sports Network, an endeavor by owner Stan Kronke to showcase his sports teams as well as other local athletics from Colorado and neighboring areas.

The Avalanche's retired numbers are:
19 Joe Sakic
33 Patrick Roy
77 Raymond Bourque
99 Wayne Gretzky (League-wide)


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The above logo is, you guessed it, a registered trademark of the Colorado Avalanche and the NHL.

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