In a hockey sense, Alex Tanguay is back home.
Seven seasons after he last played in an Avalanche uniform, the forward has returned to Colorado – the place where he began his professional career.
"For me, coming back to Denver, I kind of feel it's where I've grown up," Tanguay said. "I got there when I was 18, 19 years old, and I was there for a long time."
Acquired with Cory Sarich June 27 from the Calgary Flames, Tanguay said it was a bit unexpected to be traded, but he's looking forward to being back with the club that selected him 12th overall in the 1998 Entry Draft.
"I'm looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge," he said. "I am extremely excited to be back in Colorado. I see the young team, tons of talent up front and it is going to be exciting to see who is going to play with who."
In his six previous seasons with the Avalanche, he scored 400 points (137 goals and 263 assists) and had three years of 77 points or more. Tanguay still ranks ninth all-time in franchise scoring, and he might be best remembered by Avs fans for his performance in Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals where he scored two goals to help Colorado defeat New Jersey and win its second championship in six years.
Tanguay hasn't lost his scoring touch since his first stint in Denver as he's picked up 362 points (112 goals and 250 assists) while spending time with Calgary, Montreal and Tampa Bay.
With the exception of a 37-point season with Tampa in 2009-10,Tanguay has been a consistent scorer in every other season since 2006, averaging 0.83 points per game.
Looking back at his time with the Lightning, the Ste-Justine, Quebec native still isn't pleased with his performance on the ice, but he said he learned a lot in that one season and the low numbers was just a blip on his career.
|Alex Tanguay celebrates with his teammates after scoring one of his two goals in Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals against New Jersey. |
"I realized what I needed to do if I wanted to keep playing," he said of the season in Tampa. "The year after, I went back to Calgary where I was really familiar with the organization and some of the staff and some of the players over there. I got back to working hard and I feel that I have played good since that time."
Tanguay finished in the top three on the team in scoring in his first two seasons back in Calgary – picking up 69 points in 2010-11 and 49 points in 2011-12 – and was was leading the Flames in scoring this past year with 27 points (11 goals and 16 assists) before being derailed by a knee injury and missing the final eight games.
Now recovered from the injury and back with the Avs, executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic said Tanguay's veteran leadership is going to be an important component to the team's future.
“We are excited to have Alex back with the organization,” said Sakic, who often played on the same line as Tanguay from 1999-2006. “He is coming off a solid season and his experience will be beneficial to our young players."
At a not-so-young but not-so-old 33 years of age, he will be the eldest forward of the group when the season begins. However, that doesn't mean Tanguay's offensive production is going to be on the decline. Instead, he believes it will be the opposite.
"I still think that I haven't had my best year yet," he said. "I'm hoping it is going to happen. Certainly I feel very good physically. I'm only 33 years old, and I still feel that I have lots to offer. I feel good honestly, I feel really good."