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An Impressive Feat for Foote

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The man who has already appeared in more regular season (812) and playoff contests (164) than any other defenseman in franchise history will have a chance to add to his legacy this weekend.

Veteran blueliner Adam Foote is scheduled to play in his 1,000th career NHL game Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers, nearly 17 years after he skated in his first regular season contest on Oct. 19, 1991 vs. Detroit at the Quebec Colisee.

Avalanche head coach Jacques Cloutier has come to know Foote about as well as anyone during his career. Cloutier was a teammate of Foote’s during the defenseman’s first three NHL seasons and has since coached him for roughly a decade.

“The thing with Adam is that you know what you’re getting every night. He comes to play and is a warrior,” said Cloutier. “Obviously winning the Stanley Cup in 1996 really cemented him as one of the top defensemen in the NHL, then winning a gold medal at the Olympics in 2002 just proved it even further. Since then, he’s been really steady and has been a great leader on and off the ice.”

Cloutier should know just how far Foote has progressed during his storied career, since he was there when it began and now works with him on a daily basis. On that October night in 1991 when Foote made his NHL debut as a fresh-faced 20-year old, it was Cloutier whom Foote was playing in front of. The current Avs assistant was in goal for the Quebec that night, and says the hard-nosed rookie made an immediate impression on him and the rest of the Nordiques.

“I remember Adam being pretty feisty and real aggressive,” said Cloutier. “Just like now he played a real simple, physical game. He was really tough to play against, even when he was just starting his career.”

When he suits up for Sunday’s game in Edmonton, Foote will also tie Michel Goulet by playing in his 813th game with the Avalanche franchise, which ranks second in team history behind Joe Sakic (who currently sits at 1,364).

In addition to being the Colorado/Quebec franchise’s all-time leader in games played by a defenseman, Foote ranks among the top of its scoring charts for blueliners as well. He currently ranks third in goals by a defenseman (55) and is second in points (235). If Foote manages an assist on Sunday, it would tie him with Sandis Ozolinsh for the most helpers (181) by a defender in franchise history.

The Avalanche will honor Foote’s achievement in a special pre-game event next Thursday when the Avalanche returns home to host the Philadelphia Flyers at 7:00 p.m.

Granato Remains Confident
Avalanche head coach Tony Granato’s support for and confidence in starting goaltender Peter Budaj hasn’t wavered an ounce since the beginning of training camp.

Sticking with the game plan that the team entered the season with, Budaj will get the start Sunday against Edmonton.

“Last night was one of those games where I’m sure he wishes he could take a couple of those back and make a couple of saves,” said Granato. “He’s going to make a lot of big saves for us during the year, so we can’t just judge on one performance. He’s our guy, he’s going to be fine and he’ll be in net when we start our road trip in a couple days.”

Big Night for the Granatos
Granato’s sister, Cammi, will officially become the first female inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame tonight in a ceremony on the campus of the University of Denver.

Cammi will be enshrined along with three other American superstars, Brett Hull, Brian Leetch and Mike Richter. All four players were honored by the Avalanche prior to puck drop on Thursday.

Between seeing Cammi be honored by USA Hockey, having a flock of family in town and opening the 2008-09 season Thursday, it’s been a whirlwind couple of days for the Avalanche head coach. Even so, he says he’ll be thrilled to see his younger sister – along with three of his ex-teammates – take their place alongside the greatest hockey players the United States has ever seen.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Granato. “Obviously if you win last night it makes it a little more enjoyable, but having Cammi and the other three inductees all being here for their induction is very exciting for me and obviously a tremendous honor for Cammi, Brian, Mike and Brett.”

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