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Avs 20th Anniversary Team: Ray Bourque

by Samantha Poulos / Colorado Avalanche

ColoradoAvalanche.com profiles the players named to the Avalanche's 20th Anniversary Team.

To play 22 seasons of NHL hockey is an incredible accomplishment all on its own, but to score 59 points (seven goals and 52 assists) in a player’s final season is similarly astonishing.

Add a Stanley Cup championship to that campaign and that’s what Ray Bourque managed with the Colorado Avalanche in 2000-01.

Bourque, who spent the majority of his career with the Boston Bruins after being drafted eighth overall by the club in 1979, is one of six defenseman that fans voted to the Avalanche’s 20th Anniversary Team.

This Hockey Hall of Fame inductee was as consistent as they come, a player accustomed to having 50-plus point seasons. In fact, Bourque reached the half-century mark in points in his first straight 15 seasons in the league, failing to top the total just twice in his 22 years.

The 19-year-old D-man racked up 65 points (17 goals and 48 assists) during his rookie campaign (1979-80), earning him not only the Calder Trophy but NHL First-Team All-Star honors as well.

In all, 6-foot, 223-pound Bourque skated in 1,612 regular-season NHL games, tallying 410 markers and 1,169 helpers for 1,579 points, which included a career year from 1983-84 when he notched 96 points (31 goals, 65 assists). Bourque still holds the record as the league’s all-time leader among defensemen in all three scoring categories, and also made 214 Stanley Cup playoff appearances, collecting 180 points (41 goals and 139 assists).

The Montreal, Quebec, native was named to the All-Star Game 19 consecutive times—the most ever by a defenseman—and had an NHL-record 13 First-Team All-Star nominations. He was a five-time Norris Trophy winner (1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1994) as the top defensive player, earned the King Clancy Award in 2002 for his leadership abilities and humanitarian efforts and finally captured hockey’s ultimate prize in his last year of play.

Bourque was traded to the Avs from Boston on March 6, 2000, giving him the best chance to lift the Stanley Cup in the twilight of his career.

Colorado went on to win its second championship the following season.

''Lifting the Cup, what a feeling. It's something I can't describe,” Bourque told the New York Times in 2001. ''I couldn't breathe the last 30 seconds and it wasn't because I was tired. It was too much, and I was trying to hold off the emotions.''

Perhaps one of the most iconic moments in Stanley Cup history came during the trophy presentation after the final playoff game. Instead of Joe Sakic raising the Cup after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman presented him the silver chalice, Sakic instead handed off the prize so the then 41-year-old could have his moment.

''To allow me to grab it like that says it all,'' Bourque said to the media following the Game 7 victory. "Joe is an unbelievable man.”

In his final season, Bourque made a lasting impact on a few separate franchise lists. His 52 helpers are currently ranked second among defenseman, and his 59 points are ranked fourth. He also led the team in ice time, averaging 26:06 per game, and was again named an NHL First-Team All-Star.

Bourque’s name and number hang in the rafters of the Pepsi Center after his jersey was the first-ever to be retired by the Avalanche on Nov. 24, 2001.

No. 77 will be one of the players in attendance when the 20th Anniversary Team is honored during a pregame ceremony on Dec. 7 at Pepsi Center.

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