captain Adam Foote
said he can't say for certain that the Stanley Cup is the hardest championship to win in sports.
"I haven't played for any other league championships, he said.
But the 38-year-old defenseman does know how difficult it is to earn the privilege of hoisting Lord Stanley's silver chalice, having played an instrumental role in the Avalanche's championship seasons in 1996 and 2001.
"It's a grind, it's a seven-game series," he said. "There's so much parity in the NHL, it's an emotional rollercoaster and the schedule is so hard playing intense games every other night. It's a battle.
"You look at all the Stanley Cup pictures of the teams that have won it, they all look sick. They all look like they need to go have a burger or two. That's the way it is. It's a long, grueling run. Everyone in the Final, whether you are injured, have a bad injury, you have to play through it, hold off the surgeries. It's been that way forever.
"You look at all the Stanley Cup pictures of the teams that have won it, they all look sick. They all look like they need to go have a burger or two. That's the way it is." -- Adam Foote
"That's why when you win it, it's so rewarding. You feel like you are on top of the world because it's a hard thing to get done."
Foote said the Avalanche's playoff run in 2001 was the most difficult for him. The team won the Presidents' Trophy with franchise records for wins (52) and points (118) and was expected to win the Cup with a loaded roster that included Patrick Roy
, Joe Sakic
, Peter Forsberg
, Milan Hejduk
, Alex Tanguay
, Ray Bourque
and Rob Blake
The Avalanche's "16W" motto that postseason referred to the 16 wins necessary to win the Cup for themselves but mostly for Bourque, who joined the team the previous year after going parts of 21 seasons with the Boston Bruins
without a championship.
"I was more mentally beat up and probably more physically beat up after that one," Foote said. "In those days, for Ray and for where we were and for the team that was put together, it was more like San Jose is now. We had to win. We had to win or it was a failure."