Things were so bad in Colorado last spring that when Patrick Roy, the Hall of Fame goalie who wants to become an NHL coach, was offered the Avalanche job in May, he chose to stay behind the bench of his junior team, the Quebec Remparts. The snickerer says Roy may have stayed with the better team. Colorado finished last in the NHL, with 190 goals—and that was when it had 26-goal scorer Ryan Smyth, who was traded to Los Angeles—and last in the conference in goals allowed, with 257.
The Avalanche hopes the future lies with 18-year-old center Matt Duchene, the No. 3 pick in the June draft, who could become the franchise's first impact teenager since 19-year-old Joe Sakic broke in with the then Quebec Nordiques in 1988--89. If Duchene emerges as expected, he and Paul Stastny (above, 36 points in 45 games last season) could serve the team well at center for a decade or more. For the new tandem of G.M. Greg Sherman and coach Joe Sacco, however, it will take years before they can even dream about recapturing the glory days when Sakic and Roy won Cups in Denver.