Should The Avalanche Retire Rob Blake’s Number?


Last week Rob Blake took his rightful place in the Hockey Hall of Fame. While Colorado Avalanche nation celebrated the brilliant career of Avs legend Peter Forsberg, Blake flew a bit under the radar. That was to be expected given that Forsberg is one of the best players in Avalanche history and played 591 of his 708 career games in burgundy and blue. Blake, on the other hand, only spent five seasons in Colorado and is best known for his 14 seasons as part of the Los Angeles Kings.

Blake deserves to be praised for his contributions to the Avalanche though and it got me thinking, should the Avs retire Blake’s #4 jersey?

 The Case For Blake

The Avs retired Ray Bourque’s number, so why wouldn’t they retire Blake’s? Bourque only spent a season and a half in Colorado, far less time than Blake, and they both won the same Stanley Cup in 2001. When Bourque retired, Blake become the top offensive defenseman on the team and is in the top five in all major offensive categories amongst defenseman in Avalanche history.

Blake was the missing piece in 2001. Remember, Bourque was acquired in 2000, but he and the Avs came up short that season, losing in the Western Conference Finals. The following season, Blake was acquired to form a Big Three on D along with Bourque and Adam Foote. Blake was the guy who help put the Avalanche over the top in their quest for the Stanley Cup. If the Avs hadn’t acquired Blake, we might not be talking about that 2001 Stanley Cup.

When John-Michael Liles switched to #4 in 2006, he called Blake and asked if it was alright for him to use it. That just goes to show the kind of respect that Blake commanded during his time with the Avalanche.

The Case Against Blake

More from Mile High Sticking

Despite spending less time in an Avalanche sweater, Bourque was a special case. He tried for 21 years in Boston to win a Stanley Cup and couldn’t do it despite being a top five


all-time. He wanted to come to Colorado because he knew they gave him one of the best chances to win a Cup. When

Joe Sakic

handed Bourque the Cup in 2001, it was an iconic moment in sports history. Every hockey fan, except maybe Devils fans,

were cheering

for Bourque and the Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Final because they wanted to see #77 raise the Cup. He may have only played 94 games with the


, but that one moment of him kissing the Holy Grail is worth a whole career and then some.

Even though Blake was “the missing piece” his case wasn’t quite as special. It was his first Stanley Cup, but it hadn’t logged the years or the accolades that Bourque logged.

Then there’s the Avs current #4, Tyson Barrie. If Barrie continues to play at this high of a level and spends the majority of his career with the Avs, his number could go up in the rafters of Pepsi Center many years from now. Barrie could always switch back to #41, which he wore during his first two seasons with the Avs, but obviously he likes wearing #4, otherwise he wouldn’t have switched in the first place.

My Verdict

I wouldn’t retire #4. Not because Barrie is currently wearing it and I’d hate for the guy to have to switch again, but because Blake just didn’t log enough time in a Avalanche sweater to have his number retired. I think you’ve got to play at least 1/3 of your career with one team, or break records and collect hardware if you spend less time with that team. Obviously there will be special cases, but for the most part those are my requirements.

As good as Blake was for the Avs, he didn’t break any Avalanche records and only won the one Cup. As important as he was to that team, his case isn’t special enough to warrant having his number retired.

Avalanche nation should still celebrate what Rob Blake did during his time in Denver. Even though his #4 won’t go up in the rafters, if you ever want to remember Blake’s time as a member of the Colorado Avalanche, just look at the 2001 Stanley Cup Banner.