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4 COLORADO Avalanche
Stephen Cannella
October 13, 2003
Fortunately, a souped-up offense will boost the scoring because Patrick Roy is gone
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October 13, 2003

4 Colorado Avalanche

Fortunately, a souped-up offense will boost the scoring because Patrick Roy is gone

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SI RANKING
(1 BEST-30 WORST)

OFFENSE

1

DEFENSE

14

GOALTENDING

28

POWER PLAY

1

PENALTY KILLING

20

G.M. AND COACH

4

Teemu Selanne is a notorious speed freak who once fed his habit with a flight aboard an F/A-18 Hornet. His large automobile collection includes a Ferrari, a Dodge Viper, a Corvette and a Porsche. He's hell on skates, too. With the arrival of Selanne and Paul Kariya, terms like jet-powered and high-octane will be used often this season to describe the Avalanche offense.

In July, Selanne, a three-time 50-goal scorer, and Kariya, the former Mighty Ducks sniper, signed with Colorado in a collaboration as finely engineered as one of Selanne's exotic cars. Former teammates in Anaheim and fast friends, they took huge pay cuts to reunite, particularly Kariya, whose salary dropped from $10 million last year to $1.2 million. Selanne will make considerably more than his buddy—$5.8 million, or $700,000 less than the Sharks paid him last season—but, Kariya says, "he promised me I'd get to drive his Porsche this year."

The Avalanche is so loaded that Selanne and Kariya will play on the second line with Joe Sakic 5(26 goals in 2002-03). The top unit features center Peter Forsberg, who won the Hart and Art Ross trophies last season; Milan Hejduk, who was the league's only 50-goal scorer; and Alex Tanguay, who had 26 goals.

While scoring goals won't be a problem, keeping the other team from doing so might be. With the retirement of Patrick Roy, the No. 1 goalie job falls to St. Patrick's backup for the last three years, David Aebischer, a 25-year-old Swiss. His butterfly style will remind some of Roy, but his big-game resume won't. Aebischer (7-12-0, 2.43 goals-against average last season) has barely more than a period's worth of NHL playoff experience, and he failed miserably at the 2002 Olympics (0-1-1, 4-43). "You never know with goalies until they're Number 1, but he plays a lot like Patrick," says Sakic, the team captain.

Aebischer spent part of his summer touring U.S. landmarks such as the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. The Avs hope he paid attention to the monument to netminding that used to play in front of him.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

1