The number 22 sure isn’t 21 but it’s not 20 either. Some good Avs history here along with the usual assortment of moves that didn’t work out.
The Avs traded for Lemieux, who had just won the Conn Smythe Trophy with New Jersey, on the eve of their inaugural season and along with the Ozolinsh and Roy trades was a big piece of the Avs 1st championship. He had 39 goals and 71 points that season and despite a suspension for creating the best rivalry in sports, chipped in 5G/7A on the way to raising the Cup. He was traded back to Jersey early in the 99-00 season after 4+ years and 212 regular season points to go with 55 in the playoffs.
The mention of Lemieux’s name evokes a wide range of reactions depending on where you hang your hat. Unrepentant thug, skilled agitator, embarrassment to hockey, great champion. History hasn’t been kind to Claude and he may be a victim of his own longevity with regards to his place in the Hall of Fame. If the vote had been taken in the year 2000 he would have been a lock but nowadays the selectors don’t take intangibles into account the same way they did 20 years ago and it’s impossible to return to 1986 or 1995 or 1997 to feel the emotions he created at the time.
As Avs fans we can appreciate most the moment he turned Kris Draper’s face into mush in game 6 of the 1996 Western Conference finals and kicked off 6 years of brawls, pure unadulterated hate and amazing hockey that defined the dynasty years in Colorado and for that matter the NHL.
Nederost was the Avs 1st round pick in 2000 out of the Czech Republic, turned pro a year later and immediately acquired the bust label. After 2 years he was traded to Florida and came up just short of 100 NHL games before returning to Europe for the balance of his career.
After a long and distinguished career in Washington, Kono was traded to the Avs early in the 03-04 season where he played a year and a little bit before retiring. He ended up with 54 points in 97 games in burgundy, adding 4 goals in the 04 playoffs. He became an assistant coach under Joe Sacco for a couple years before moving to the Dub to manage the Seattle Thunderbirds for 6 successful campaigns.
Along with #20, McCormick also wore #22 for a few games in his debut season
After spending his first 8 years in the league with San Jose, Hannan signed a 4 year, $18M UFA deal with the Avs in 2007. Early in the 4th year of that contract he was sent to the Caps for Tomas Fleischman. Depending on your POV he was either overpaid or underappreciated during his time with the Avs, at least they didn’t trade two 2nds and a 6th to acquire him.
#BlameHunwick came to the Avs from Boston right after Thanksgiving 2010. I’ll be charitable and say the staff found it difficult to place him in the proper role while with Colorado. He was re-signed, twice, despite never playing more than 51 games in a season. When Patrick Roy happened along he was demoted to the Monsters after a single game where he languished for the entire season before moving on in UFA. Tale of the tape: 128 games, 3 goals, 22 points.
Reds was another in the long line of reclamation projects the Avs took on instead of drafting quality defenseman and developing them. He signed for a couple of years and was injured for most of the first and demoted to the AHL in the 2nd. To date, 96 of his career 133 NHL games were with the Avs and he racked up 7 goals and 26 points in that span.
Rocco was acquired from Florida for Yogi Berra in 2016 and wore #22 in his first season, spent mostly in San Antonio. In 4 games he had and assist in 44 minutes of ice time.
Willie took the double deuces away from Rocco last summer after being acquired from the Predators for a 4th round pick in the Avs annual overpay-for-grit move. He struggled to stay healthy, function competently in the defensive zone and put up meaningful points as a bottom 6er. To date he has 6 goals and 18 points in burgundy with one year left on his contract.
I know many will consider choosing Wilson here just to aggravate me but consider Claude Lemieux first or perhaps Steve Konowalchuk. Who wore #22 best?