While some seem to think the Colorado Avalanche
are trying to win the 1999 or 2001 Stanley Cup all over again by reuniting Peter Forsberg
and Adam Foote
in Denver with Joe Sakic
and Milan Hejduk
, one thing is certain: This isn't the return of Indiana Jones a decade later as far as the 36-year-old Foote is concerned.
While some may believe Foote lost a little of his drive a year ago when injuries forced him to miss more than 20 games, his competitive nature won't let that happen. His quality of play since joining the Avs at the trade deadline has been vintage Foote. He's out there in all of the shut-down situations defensively for the Avalanche in their first-round playoff series against the Minnesota Wild
"It's like a dream come true to be able to come back here where we had some many great memories together," Foote said of returning to Colorado. "When I heard I was going back to Denver and the team had sent a jet to get me to Calgary for our first game, my game face was on all day -- even though it was one of the weirdest days of my life, travel-wise.
"A lot of the faces may have changed inside the locker room since I was last here, but the feeling of having a winning team is still the same."
Even though Columbus dealt Foote to Colorado on trade-deadline day, Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock raved about how his captain played for him.
"The guy I see right now is that same guy I saw in Colorado when I was coaching in Dallas," said Hitchcock. "Whenever there was a big game, he was the first one you noticed making an impact and making life miserable for me and my team. He's the ultimate competitor.
"When I came in here last season, Adam was too spread out, trying to do too much as captain of this team. We sat down before this season and talked about putting him into the same win-win situations he was so good at in Denver; blocking shots, being physical in and around our net, getting in the face of opponents, being hard to play against. In a lot of ways, he's the type of leader who is like a coach on the ice ... an extension of me."
Foote was so busy being a leader on a team that never has been to the playoffs that he didn't see that he was spreading himself too thin in the process. He wasn't being the same intimidating force that made him the first pick of the second round (No. 22 overall) of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, who became a cornerstone on the Colorado defense and played for Canada in the Olympics in 1998, 2002 and 2006.
"Adam's a winner, a warrior, a guy you want on your side," said Avalanche captain Joe Sakic
"He gives his coach a chance to send out a guy to play all of the tough minutes defensively and not worry," said Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville
Give the 6-foot-2, 226-pound defenseman an assignment of stopping the opponent's best offensive line and Foote will stop it. Always has.
"My job, my role, being a defensive defenseman is not a position of glory," said Foote. "But if I do my job, the team enjoys the glory."
Foote just laughs when I keep bringing up how competitive, nasty and hard to play against he is.
"That comes from my parents," Foote said with a big smile.
Bert Foote was a policeman in Toronto for more than 30 years. Linda, Adam's mom, worked at a grocery store. Their leadership was firm -- and as Adam always learned – and right.
"I'll never forget my mom making us all take figure skating lessons when we were young," Foote said, almost embarrassed to admit it. "She said if we were going to be good hockey players we had to learn how to skate the right way."
And there was this story about his father when Adam was a teenager in Whitby, about 30 minutes oustside Toronto: "I remember coming home from high school in Whitby and being quizzed by my dad about my course schedule. He wanted to know if I was taking French. I said, 'No.' He said, 'What? Get in French.' "
Just a few years later, Foote was listening for his name at the NHL Entry Draft. It was announced in French ... by the Quebec Nordiques.
Bert turned to his son and said, "I thought you didn't need French."
No French was needed in Foote's return to Denver. He doesn't need a reminder that sitting back and waiting for a chance to make an impact doesn't work for him. He initiates and makes an impact on the game.
"He's a guy you'd want standing next to you if you are in a bunker and there's a battle to win," said St. Louis Blues
forward Dan Hinote
, who played with Foote in Colorado. "He oozes the kind of competitive spirit you need to win in this game."