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Sports Illustrated Ranking: 3
By Brian Cazeneuve
One morning in training camp Avalanche right wing Adam Deadmarsh
was marveling at his improved shooting. The previous day, in a
variation of the old Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, an assist
and a fight), he had collected what his coach, Bob Hartley,
called "a Happy Gilmore hat trick." In an evening intrasquad
game Deadmarsh picked up a goal and an assist; only hours
earlier he had struck the shot heard 'round Colorado's training
camp, smacking an eight-iron into the cup for a hole in one on
the par-3, 165-yard 8th hole at Colorado Springs's Broadmoor
Golf Course. "First time I've been within 10 feet [of an ace],"
said Deadmarsh. "Maybe I'll get on a roll."
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After a breakout year in 1996-97, when he scored 33 goals,
Deadmarsh slumped to 22 goals in each of the last two seasons,
which makes him the prototypical Avalanche player: a top-notch
talent who hasn't always performed up to his potential. Since the
1992-93 season, only Detroit and Pittsburgh have more points than
Colorado, yet the Avalanche has won just four playoff series
during that span if you exclude its 1995-96 Stanley Cup-winning
campaign. Colorado will begin this year without three of the five
All-Star forwards who took it to last season's Western Conference
finals, in which the Avalanche fell to Dallas in seven games.
Gone are Theo Fleury and Valeri Kamensky, both of whom signed
free-agent contracts with the Rangers. Moreover, Peter Forsberg,
the NHL's most complete player, is recovering slowly from June
surgery on his left shoulder and is not expected back until
Hartley hopes that some of the gusto with which Forsberg plays
will rub off on stylish but soft defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh, who
will kill penalties for the first time in his career. Ozolinsh's
poor play in his own zone -- he was -5 in the postseason -- was a big
reason goalie Patrick Roy faced 30 or more shots in 15 of 19
playoff games last spring. Though the Avalanche will not abandon
its high-speed game, Hartley is determined to put a tougher,
grittier group in front of Roy, who is just 35 wins shy of Terry
Sawchuk's alltime mark of 447. Smallish forwards Chris Drury and
Milan Hejduk, who were first and third, respectively, in the
Calder Trophy balloting last year, went on off-season strength
programs and could become, in Hartley's words, "the go-to two" if
they add a physical dimension to their games. "In the past we
fell back on our skill," says Colorado captain Joe Sakic, who led
the team with 41 goals. "Now to stay up with Dallas and Detroit,
we have to do the little things to win."
Issue date: October 4, 1999
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The kids are alright: Calder Trophy winner Chris Drury and Milan Hejduk allow the Avs to reload with some of the best young talent in the league.
New owner Donald Sturm isn't interested in cleaning house and doing everything his way. He is reportedly committed to keeping general manager Pierre Lacroix, who has the green light with the checkbook. Lacroix is naturally financially sound and isn't likely to abuse that privilege.
Adam Deadmarsh struggled with injuries last season, but still came away with 22 goals in 66 games. Many think he is due for a major scoring season.
Peter Forsberg won't play until December because of shoulder surgery, leaving the Avs a little thin at center. Deadmarsh and Drury will get some time in the middle.|
After losing three key forwards, there are spots open. Brad Larsen, former captain of Canada's World Junior team, has a shot. So do Alex Tanguay and Serge Aubin.
Patrick Roy was hurting last year and he's coming off minor hip surgery. Though he's only 35 wins shy of Terry Sawchuk's all-time wins record (447), it may be a tall task for Patrick to get it this year.
Is Marc Denis ready to supplant Roy in Colorado?
People, Places and Things
GM: Pierre Lacroix
Coach: Bob Hartley 2nd season (44-28-10); 2nd overall
Assistants: Jacques Cloutier; Bryan Trottier
Captain: Joe Sakic
Last year: 44-28-10 (4th overall)
PP: 5th (18.9%)
PK: 17th (83.7%)
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Tue., Oct. 5: Opener at Nashville.
Wed., Oct. 13: Home opener vs. Boston in the new Pepsi Center.
Fri., Nov. 5: The New York Rangers come to Denver, bringing a bevy of former Avs with them.
Sun., Apr. 9: When the Detroit Red Wings come to town on the last day of the season, anything can happen.
193: Combined points for Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg, the third highest duo total in the league behind the 210 of Jaromir Jagr (127)and Martin Straka (83), and the 208 of Teemu Selanne (107) and Paul Kariya (101).
"They took something out. I don't know the right medical term for the piece they took out. It was debris, something that was stuck in there, and they just cut it out." -- coach Bob Hartley on Patrick Roy's hip surgery