Colorado Avalanche: Goodbye to Alex Tanguay

The Colorado Avalanche traded winger Alex Tanguay (and two prospects) to the Arizona Coyotes for forward Mikkel Boedker. The sentimental part of me was sad to see Tanguay go.

Do you remember when the Colorado Avalanche drafted forward Alex Tanguay? He was their 12-overall draft pick in 1998. At the time, he was the highest-ever draft pick Colorado had ever had. The Avalanche have since gone through some Dark Ages and have even had a first-overall draft pick.

In any case, at the time Tanguay was seen much as Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog are seen — as a core young forward.

Alex Tanguay as a Colorado Avalanche

Alex Tanguay served that young core well. In six seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, Tanguay played 450 regular season games. He earned 400 points (137 goals, 263 assists) in those regular season games.

More to the point, those were some of the heyday years for the Colorado Avalanche, when they made the playoffs every year. Tanguay played 83 playoff games for Colorado, earning 32 assists and 18 goals.

One of those goals, of course, was the famed Stanley Cup winning goal of 2001:

Tanguay left the Colorado Avalanche in 2006 and spent the majority of the next seven years with the Calgary Flames. However, he returned to Colorado just in time for the return of Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy — former teammates of his who were now the GM and head coach of the team, respectively.

Tanguay had a tough season that year, missing most of it due to injury. However, when he played for the Colorado Avalanche, the team went 14-2.

Last season was a lot better for Tanguay. He played all but two games (when Alex Ovechkin broke his face with a slapshot he missed a couple). His 22 goals and 33 assists were good for third on the team in scoring.

By now you know Tanguay wasn’t going to put up numbers like that this season. He had just four goals and 18 assists this season.

One of the things for which Alex Tanguay is renowned is his shot accuracy. He doesn’t shoot a lot, but he’s had eight season in which his shot accuracy has been 20% or higher. Last season he led the entire NHL among regular players for shooting percentage with 21.2%.

Teammates About Alex Tanguay

Besides Sakic and Roy, winger Jarome Iginla probably knows Tanguay better than anyone. He skated on a line for a lot of Alex’s Calgary years. According to NHL.com, Iginla put a positive spin on the acquisition of Boedker, but he was naturally sad to see his friend leave. Tanguay was integral in convincing Iginla to even come to Colorado two summers ago.

Avalanche forward Blake Comeau also played with Tanguay in Calgary. During a post-practice presser, he said of the trade:

Always bittersweet on a day like this. I’ve known Tangs for a long time, played with him in Calgary. He’s a great guy, great locker-room guy. Just a great person. So it’s sad to see him go.

Center Matt Duchene has become close friends with Tanguay. He described Tanguay to NHL.com as an “Awesome teammate, awesome guy.” He added, “I hope he re-signs [in Arizona] and finds a good home for next season.”

Alex Tanguay was in the final year of his contract.

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog also spoke during the post-practice presser:

“It is obviously tough to see any teammate go. Tangs has been a great teammate, great linemate — I can’t say enough good things about Tangs. He’s been a good friend, and with all of his experience obviously he’s been a good mentor for all of us.”

My Memories of Alex Tanguay

To answer my own question, I do remember when Alex Tanguay was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche. I remember that blonde kid with the wry smile and how he was seen to have so much potential for the team. Tanguay was quick in that heyday. And he had hands as soft as kid leather gloves.

A funny little anecdote. During the second Colorado Avalanche’s Stanley Cup, I was working my way through college as a hairstylist. I actually cut Alex Tanguay’s hair (when he still had hair) just about three weeks after his Stanley Cup-winning goal.

If you can believe it, I didn’t recognize him.  It just didn’t occur to me that a Stanley Cup winner — and the catalyst for the win — would be sitting in my stylist chair. It wasn’t until I asked the rote “What do you do for a living” and got the very un-rote “I play professional hockey” that I realized who I was talking to! (He was as humble as you always hear hockey players are.)

Tanguay didn’t get a lot of goals this season, and none of them were Cup-winners, of course. However, I think it fitting that his final goal as a Colorado Avalanche came in front of 50,000 fans during the biggest Avalanche game since said Stanley Cup Finals — the Stadium Series goal:

It’s interesting how that goal looks a lot like his Stanley Cup winner.

In any case, Joe Sakic had said more than once they Alex Tanguay could finish out his career with the Colorado Avalanche if he wanted. I doubt that changed. I’m not sure exactly how it went, but I’m sure Sakic approached Tanguay before ever even talking to other general managers.

For all I know, Tanguay could well have approached him first. I know that reports came this morning that coach Roy wasn’t in practice. It’s highly likely the three were together. As Larry Murphy said during the Coors Light Center Ice Beer Summit, winning a Stanley Cup together creates a lifelong brotherhood among players.

Best of luck to Alex Tanguay. Thank you so much for everything you did for the Colorado Avalanche.