As the opening round of the NHL Playoffs rages on, fans of the Colorado Avalanche are left wanting. Do you have a void in your life that hockey used to occupy? Do you have an itch that can only be scratched by a hockey stick?
While we cannot magically make the Avalanche appear in a playoff series, there is still reason to watch. Half of the 16 teams that were invited to the postseason dance have a former Avalanche on their roster. Sure, some of these people may have hurt you when they left, but remember, you likely cheered for them at one point.
Now, you have an excuse to pull those old jerseys out of the closet. It might not be much, but think of the ol’ days when they donned the burgundy and blue. Reach back and pull for these proud Avalanche alumni.
Here they are, broken down by team:
St. Louis Blues: Paul Stastny, Kevin Shattenkirk and Brian Elliott
It may be hard for you to cheer for anybody besides the Avalanche in the Central Division, but when it comes to games played in burgundy and blue, nobody comes close to the Blues in this year’s postseason (granted, Paul Stastny has the vast majority of them).
Stastny spent his first eight seasons in the Mile High City, serving as an alternate captain. Before that, he played for the University of Denver. Heck, in the 1980’s, his father (Peter Stastny) was the face of the franchise prior to the arrival of Joe Sakic.
Kevin Shattenkirk was a highly-touted defensive prospect in the midst of a solid rookie campaign when the Avalanche traded him to the Blues in the Erik Johnson deal in 2011. Brian Elliott was the least memorable, playing poorly in 12 contests in 2011 after being acquired from the Ottawa Senators for Craig Anderson.
Anaheim Ducks: Jamie McGinn, Chris Stewart and Chris Wagner
Acquired by the Avalanche from the San Jose Sharks in 2012, Jamie McGinn was a promising power forward until injuries prevented him from reaching his full potential. He was shipped to the Buffalo Sabres along with Ryan O’Reilly; the Sabres, in turn, sent him to the Ducks.
Chris Stewart was cut from the same cloth as McGinn. Selected by the Avalanche in the first round (18th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Stewart played parts of three seasons with the Avalanche prior to being shipped to St. Louis in the Erik Johnson deal.
If you want to cheer for a recent Avalanche player, look no further than Chris Wagner. Claimed off of waivers from the Ducks this season, he played in 26 games for Colorado before he was waived, and subsequently claimed by the Ducks (I guess they missed him).
Minnesota Wild: David Jones
Selected by the Avalanche in the ninth round (288th overall), not a lot was expected of David Jones. The forward has gone on to play in nearly 500 NHL games. His first six seasons would come in burgundy in blue. He was sent to the Calgary Flames during the summer of 2013 in the Alex Tanguay deal.
The Flames then sent him to the Wild at this season’s trade deadline. If you want an old-school Avalanche, Jones may be your guy. He is a former linemate of Joe Sakic’s (who coincidentally was the man who traded him).
Detroit Red Wings: Kyle Quincey
Now, this one might be a little hard to swallow. Acquired from the Los Angeles Kings as part of the Ryan Smyth trade prior to the 2009-2010 season, he would spend parts of three seasons in Colorado. It might be hard to look past the jersey he now wears. It might be hard to forget the harsh words he had for the Avs when they traded him in 2012; but he still has an offseason home in Colorado and even suited up for the Denver Cutthhroats during the last lockout.
Washington Capitals: Daniel Winnik
Daniel Winnik still plays the same style as he did when he spent two seasons with the Avalanche. From 2010-2012, he was a solid penalty killer for the Avs. For that same reason, the Capitals acquired him from the Toronto Maple Leafs this sprin,; as he went from the worst team in the league to the best.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Kevin Porter
Acquired as a depth forward, Kevin Porter spent parts of three seasons with the Avalanche. He posted far and away his best NHL season with the Avs in 2010-2011, when he had 25 points. A depth forward for the Penguins now, Porter is currently injured and has yet to play in a game this postseason.
Chicago Blackhawks: Tomas Fleischmann
Acquired by the Avalanche from the Washington Capitals in 2011, Fleishmann played extremely well during his short time in Colorado (21 points in 22 games). Unfortunately, he was shut down due to a blood clot in his lung and was not re-signed (likely due to concerns with his health). He was acquired by the Blackhawks from the Montreal Canadiens this spring.
The defending Stanley Cup Champions also have former Avalanche defenseman Kyle Cumiskey in their system, but he is not on their playoff roster.
New York Islanders: Johnny Boychuk
Prior to being acquired by the Islanders, Johnny Boychuk made a name for himself as a solid two-way defender for the Boston Bruins, winning a Stanley Cup in 2011. It is an oft-forgotten fact that he was actually an Avalanche draft pick back in 2002 (61st overall). Though he was once a highly-touted prospect, he only played four games for the Avs (during the 2007-2008 season) before they gave up on him and shipped him up to Boston. Hindsight is 20/20, I guess.