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Claude Lemieux Alumni Night

by Zachary Balside / Colorado Avalanche
All fans in attendance at Saturday's game will receive a free Claude Lemieux poster from renowned painter Stephen Holland
After being a part of many special moments in the early history of the Colorado Avalanche, Claude Lemieux will become the seventh player honored by the Avalanche Alumni Association Saturday prior to Colorado’s tilt against the New Jersey Devils.


Lemieux joined the Avs prior to their inaugural season in 1995-1996, and didn’t waste any time proving his importance to the organization. That season, Lemieux scored 39 goals and totaled 71 total points as Colorado went on to win its first Stanley Cup. His ten game-winning goals were third-best in the league, and the team went 27-2-0 in games in which he scored.

In 1996-1997, the Buckingham, Quebec native appeared in only 45 regular season games after suffering an abdominal muscle tear early in the season. However, once playoffs rolled around Claude did not miss a beat, setting a personal best for playoff points with 23 (13g/10a) in only 17 games, good for third in the NHL.

The feisty winger appeared in three more seasons with the Avs into the 1999-2000 campaign before being involved in a trade with the New Jersey Devils, returning to the team that he had played with before coming to Colorado. Lemieux played 297 career games for Colorado, scoring 106 goals and helping out on 106 others for 212 career points in his five years as a member of the Avalanche.

The long NHL journey for Lemieux started in the early 80’s after he was drafted in the second round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens. He spent parts of seven years in Montreal and was a pivotal member of their 1986 Stanley Cup winning team, whose Conn Smythe-winning  goaltender was a young rookie named Patrick Roy. Lemieux led the team in goals during the playoffs with 10, and also netted four game-winners, including the clinching goal in game seven of the second round against the Hartford Whalers.

Claude played three seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes from 2000-2003 and was traded to the Dallas Stars during the 2002-2003 season. Lemieux then played seven games for EV Zug in the Swiss-A league during the 2003-2004 season before announcing his retirement.

Lemieux’s thirst for hockey hadn’t fully been quenched, however, as in 2008 he started his comeback to the NHL. Claude played two games in the Asia League Ice Hockey for the China Sharks before playing 23 games in the AHL for the Worcester Sharks, a San Jose Sharks affiliate. Lemieux’s comeback came full circle late in the 2008-2009 season when the Sharks called him up and he appeared in 18 games, recording one assist.

Lemieux, winner of four Stanley Cups with three different teams, was known for his aggressive and physical playing style as well as his ability to come through in the clutch. His 80 career playoff goals ranks him ninth on the NHL’s all-time list. Lemieux also won the Conn Smythe trophy in 1995 after scoring 13 goals in 20 playoff games and leading the Devils to their first Stanley Cup. He is also one of only five players in league history to have won Cups with three different teams.

In all, Lemieux spent parts of 21 seasons in the NHL and finished his career with 379 goals, 786 points and 1,777 penalty minutes in 1,215 regular season games, and totaled 157 points (80g/77a) in 234 playoff contests. He won the Stanley Cup in 1986 with the Canadiens, 1995 with the Devils, 1996 with the Avalanche, and again with the Devils in 2000.

UPCOMING AVALANCHE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION NIGHTS

Date                                            Opponent                            Alumni Honoree
Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010        New Jersey Devils              Claude Lemieux
Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010           New York Rangers             Curtis Leschyshyn
Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010          Edmonton Oilers                 Mike Ricci
Monday, March 1, 2010         Detroit Red Wings               Valeri Kamensky
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