2001 Avalanche champs on the ’22 Avs: ‘I see Joe Sakic’s fingerprints all over this team


It has been 21 years since Bob Hartley coached the Colorado Avalanche to their second Stanley Cup behind a star-studded roster that included Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy, Milan Hejduk, Ray Bourque, Rob Blake, Adam Foote, and one of the great leaders in the game, Chris Drury, who got an elevated role when Peter Forbserg ruptured his spleen in the conference semifinals.

There was the young buck, Alex Tanguay, who scored two goals, including the series clincher, in Game 7 against the New Jersey Devils, and a slew of great pros like Shjon Podein, Ville Nieminen, Stephane Yelle, Dave Reid, Dan Hinote, Eric Messier, and Jon Klemm, among others.

With the Avs on the brink of their third Cup, perhaps Friday night at home, Hartley reflected on 2001 as it compared to this juggernaut 2022 Avalanche team that looks at the beginning stages of being a longtime thorn in the side for the other 31 NHL teams.

“You talk about speed, you talk about composure, you talk about offense, you talk about commitment to the entire game and you’re talking about the Avalanche,” Hartley said during a phone interview with The Athletic on Thursday. “This team is built the way that Joe Sakic played. Two hundred feet of hockey, well-balanced, up and down the lineup.

“Joe was always a player that never got too low, never got too high. The nickname of ‘Ordinary Joe’ was perfect because he was down to his business every day with a smile. Simple, simple guy doing a great job. You look at this team, I see Joe Sakic’s fingerprints all over this team.”

What impresses Hartley the most is that Sakic, the Avs’ general manager, and Jared Bednar, their sixth-year coach, were young when they took over, grew together, and showed impressive patience with the core of the team, namely Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen.

“They never panicked,” Hartley said. “They went with them and today those guys are the face of the franchise.”

Beyond the goaltending — because there’s no way of replicating the Hall of Famer in Roy — Reid and Podein, two tremendous role players on that 2001 team, see vast similarities between the 2001 and 2022 versions of the Avs.

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