The 16th greatest Colorado Avalanche of all-time had the shortest tenure on the list but provided arguably the most memorable moment in the history of the franchise and one of the most iconic moments in NHL history.
True, Ray Bourque only spent 128 total games (playoffs included) in an Avalanche uniform. He’s obviously most known for being an iconic figure in the Boston Bruins franchise; the defenseman who actually managed to succeed the legendary Bobby Orr during his 21 years in Boston.
Famously, Bourque had made his name in Beantown but had failed to capture hockey’s holy grail – the Stanley Cup. He’d come close a few times (losing to the Edmonton Oilers twice in 1988 and 1990) but never gotten to the top of the mountain.
As the Bruins plummeted down the standings in 1999-00, Bourque did what no one imagined he would – asked for a trade. The 19-time All-Star wanted so badly to win a Cup and knew it wasn’t happening in Boston.
Bourque had reportedly asked to be traded to someone on the East coast but Bruins GM Harry Sinden, wanting Bourque to win the Cup as much as anyone, dealt him to Colorado instead and told Bourque, “This may not be your first choice, but this is the team I feel is best.”
With that, Bourque was traded on March 6th, 2000 with Dave Andreychuk for Brian Rolston, Martin Grenier, Sammy Pahlsson, and a first round pick.
The Avalanche would ultimately fail in their quest during the 2000 playoffs, losing a heart-breaking game seven to the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final with Bourque hitting the post in the final minutes.
Gearing up for the 2000-01 season, the entire season because a quest to win Bourque his first Cup. The Avalanche dominated the regular season, racking up 118 points and capturing the President’s Trophy. They also continued their all-out effort by acquiring star defenseman Rob Blake from the Los Angeles Kings.
Having waited longer than anyone else in history to hoist the Cup (1,612 regular season games), Bourque and the Avalanche geared up for the playoff run with a unified message – Mission 16W. They had hats, shirts, the whole nine yards. It was time for Bourque to finally hoist the Cup.
After rolling through the Canucks, the Avalanche lost a huge piece of the puzzle in a grueling seven-game battle with the LA Kings in round two – Peter Forsberg was lost after game seven to an emergency spleenectomy to remove his ruptured spleen.
Mowing through the St.Louis Blues in the Conference Finals, the Avalanche squared off with the defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils. Bourque, helping out with a game-winner in game three, finally saw his dream come true with a game seven victory on home ice in Colorado.
It led to one of the most memorable moments in NHL history:
Bourque, who would have his jersey retired by both the Bruins and Avalanche the following season, had just 15 months in Colorado but he made the most of his time there. He gave his heart and soul to the Avalanche in pursuit of the ultimate glory and helped them reach the top of the mountain.
Short time or no, Bourque had a huge impact on the Colorado Avalanche. Not only did he bring them the Cup but he helped make them the focal point of the league for nearly two years.
For those reasons, and the legendary ending he provided, Ray Bourque is one of the greatest Colorado Avalanche of all-time.
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