The Colorado Avalanche have more former players that will soon be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF). On June 23rd, the HHOF class for the 2014 season was announced, and it included two former Avs, Peter Forsberg and Rob Blake.
“Peter The Great” is one of the major reasons I ever started watching hockey. He was a gritty player, never afraid to mix it up with anyone on any given night. Yet, he had more hockey skill than most of the other players too. That must have been frustrating for opponents to play against: a guy who grinds so hard, but has all the skills as well.
Forsberg officially had 3 different stints with the Colorado Avalanche, but the latter two were attempts late in his career to continue playing while battling through many injures, specifically to his ankles. However, in his first stint with the Avs, he played 10 seasons, from 1994-2004. Forsberg was able to lift the Stanley Cup twice in an Avalanche sweater, one of only a few players who can say that (Sergei Gusarov, Joe Sakic, Jon Klemm, Stephane Yelle, Patrick Roy, and Adam Foote were the others who were on both teams).
During his first 10 seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, Forsberg was dominant, producing more than a point-per-game in each season, including the 1995-1996 season in which he had 116 points (30 goals, 86 assists) during the regular season, as well as 10 goals and 11 assists during that season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“Foppa” was one of the great magicians that the game of hockey has ever seen. Had he not run into so many injury problems, beginning in the 2000-2001 season, his numbers would have been exponentially better, as after that season he only played more than 60 games in a season once more (2002-2003).
Nonetheless, Forsberg was still able to finish his career with an astounding 885 points in 708 games (249 goals and 636 assists). Now, I want to compare him to Wayne Gretzky (the ultimate standard for hockey players).
Gretzky played 1,487 games in his career, more than double what Forsberg had. If, however, Forsberg had played as many games as Gretzky had, and was able to produce at the same points per game that he had in his career (1.25), he would have finished with 1,858 points in his career, which would land him 3rd all time, behind Gretzky and Mark Messier, right in front of Gordie Howe.
Forsberg should have his name right up there with all of the all-time greats, and getting his name in the HHOF is just the start.
Blake was an acquisition of the Colorado Avalanche at the trade deadline just before the 2000-2001 Stanley Cup run. Blake was brought in and put on a defensive pairing with Ray Bourque, who also now has his name in the HHOF.
Blake was helpful right off the bat for the Avalanche, as he and Bourque bonded quickly and became one of the best pairings in the entire NHL. After being acquired, Blake produced 10 points in 13 games during the regular season, then continued on with 19 points in the playoffs that year, including 6 goals.
Blake boasted a powerful slapshot from the point and was a huge asset to any team he was on for the power-play units. He also showed no fear in throwing his body around, including having one of the best hip-checks the game of hockey has seen.
He ended up returning to California after his stint with the Avalanche came to a close, playing a couple more years for the Los Angeles Kings – whom the Avalanche originally acquired him from – and then a couple years for the San Jose Sharks before calling it quits following the 2009-2010 season.
With Forsberg and Blake now in the HHOF, the 2000-2001 Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche had 5 hall of famers on the roster (Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy, Ray Bourque, Peter Forsberg, Rob Blake) and there is potential to have more players from that roster eventually inducted (Adam Foote, Milan Hejduk, Alex Tanguay). Congratulations to these former players, as well as the other HHOF inductees for the Class of 2014!