As we’ve been highlighting the history of individual jersey numbers sported by players of the Colorado Avalanche, it seems interesting to note the amount of churn in an organization barely twenty years old.
With #27 we’ll take another journey through grinders, plugs, and projects to find the occasional gem. Here we go!
John Slaney: D 1995-1996, 7GP, 0-3-3, 4PIM
A local celebrity in St John’s, Newfoundland, Slaney generated some bright spots in an otherwise underwhelming landscape. He scored the game winning goal for Canada in the 1991 IIHF Jr Worlds, defeating Russia for that year’s championship. Then in 2005, John broke the long-standing AHL record for points by a defenceman, (454).
Based on such promising potential, he was picked 9th in the first round of the 1990 draft by the Washington Capitals. He bounced between the AHL and the NHL not quite able to fully crack the Cap’s roster. The Avs plucked Slaney off waivers in 1995 but demoted again after seven games. He spent the remaining games with the Kings in Los Angeles. Today, John holds an assistant coaching position with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Christian Matte: RW 1996-1997 (#27), 1997-1998 (#14), 1999-2000 (#17), 22GP, 2-3-5, 10PIM
Originally drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in 1993, Matte seasoned in the AHL until finally getting called up by the Colorado Avalanche in late in 1997. Not able ot get more than spot calls with Colorado, he signed as a free agent with the expansion Wild in Minnesota.
Even with a shiny new team, Matte was not able to land a guaranteed roster position. He then spent two seasons in the Swiss league playing on four different teams.
Francois Leroux: D 1997-1998, 50GP, 1-2-3, 140PIM
The Edmonton Oilers selected Leroux at number nineteen in the 1988 Draft. An interesting pick since Francois was the quintessential pugilist. He stood six-foot-six and weighed two-forty-five. Unsurprisingly, he was not able to crack the Oilers roster and after five seasons was claimed off waivers by the Penguins. Colorado got him from the waiver wire after three seasons in Pittsburgh.
The Avalanche did not offer Leroux a contract for the following season ending his career in the NHL. He continued to play several more seasons in the AHL and in Germany.
Scott Parker: RW 1998-2003, 2007-2008 (#27), 2006-2007 (#29), 237GP, 5-11-16, 538PIM
As a member of the 2001 Cup winning team, Scott Parker really deserves an article all his own. Affectionately known as “The Sheriff”, his sole purpose on the Avalanche was to protect Colorado’s skill players.
Parker was originally drafted in the third round by New Jersey in 1996 but he never got a deal with the Devils to his liking. Re-entering the draft in 1998, Colorado selected him in the first round at number twenty. Always one to march to his own drumbeat, Parker saw an opportunity in Colorado but knew he would need to differentiate himself from the other players. So he became their enforcer.
From an interview conducted by blogger Brett Shumway in 2012, Parker stated that on a team loaded with the likes of Sakic, Forsberg, Hejduk, etc, his meager points wouldn’t amount to much. He said that from the beginning coach Bob Hartley asked if he knew how to fight. Even though Scott had scored thirty goals and fifty-two points just the previous season with the Kelowna Rockets, he knew that lasting in the NHL meant learning to score points with his fists.
As a result, Parker became an indispensable part of the Colorado Avalanche leading up to the their Stanley Cup championship in 2001. For his day with the Cup, Scott strapped it to the back of his motorcycle and rode up to a bar outside of Spokane, WA.
The heady days of being a part of one the greatest teams in the NHL soon came to an end and Parker was traded to San Jose in 2003 for a fifth round pick. In February of 2007, the Sharks traded Parker back to the Avs for a sixth round pick. After playing twenty-five games in the 07-08 season Colorado wanted to assign Scott to the Ahl in Cleveland. But he refused to report to the minor league and the Avs terminated his contract.
Ossi Vaananen: D 2003-2007, 139Gp, 2-10-12, 127PIM
The Finnish defensive stand-out was a second-round pick by the Coyotes in 1998. After three plus years in the desert, Vaananen moved to Colorado in a trade along with Chris Gratton and a second rounder (Paul Stastny). Derek Morris and Keith Ballard were moved to Phoenix.
Ossi’s career was spent alternating between various European teams and various NHL teams. During the 2004 lockout, He went back to play for Jokerit in Finland. 2005-2007 were back in Colorado. When the Avs didn’t renew his contract in 2007, Vaananen went to play in the Swedish Elite League but returned to North America for a contract with Philadelphia. When the Flyers traded him to the Canucks, he left the NHL for good and spent the next decade in the Swedish league and the KHL.
Kyle Quincey: D 2009-2012, 154GP, 11-42-53, 154PIM
A fifth round pick by the Detroit Red Wings in 2003, Quincey rarely saw time with the NHL club. Detroit put him on waivers in 2008 to be claimed by the LA Kings. Finally given a chance, Kyle had a breakout year leading Kings defencemen in scoring and ice time. Following the season, he had surgery on a herniated disc and was traded to the Avalanche.
His recovery seemingly complete, Quincey again led his team in ice time and as a scoring contributor from the blue line with 29 points. Following the season, Colorado signed Kyle to a two year contract. Unfortunately, his back acted up again restricting him to only 21 games in the 2010-11 season. Appearing to again make a comeback in 2011, the Avs traded Quincey to Tampa for Steve Downie. The Lightning then flipped him back to Detroit.
In the four seasons back with the Red Wings, Quincey was never able to duplicate the productive periods he experienced in LA and Denver. Detroit did not renew his contract. Kyle then signed with the Flyers which sent him to the Blue Jackets at the trade deadline. Last season, 2017-18, Quincey signed with Minnesota. By the end of November, the Wild reassigned him to the AHL. He refused to report choosing to retire instead.
Steve Downie: RW 2011-2013 (#27), 2013-2014 (#17), 33GP, 3-18-21, 58PIM
Several Avalanche players have switched between #17 and #27. Christian Matte did at the end of the twentieth century and now Steve Downie toggles these numbers. And this won’t be the last time, either.
As referenced in the entry above, Downie came to Colorado from Tampa Bay in exchange for Kyle Quincy. Assigned to be the grinder for the top line of Landeskog and O’Reilly, Steve finished out the season at 13 points in 20 games. Colorado then signed him to a two year extension. Two games into the 2012-13 season, Downie blew out his knee and any hope for a break-out year. Mid-way through October 2013, Colorado traded Steve to Philadelphia for Maxime Talbot, presumably a player more to coach Roy’s liking.
Jordan Caron: RW 2014-2015, 19GP, 0-0-0, 2PIM
A first round pick at twenty-five by Boston, Caron found himself incapable of staying healthy in the NHL. The most games he played in a season while with the Bruins totaled forty-eight. Traded to Colorado in 2015, Jordan fared no better with the change in scenery and was released back into the AHL. He continues to ply his trade in the German League.
Andreas Martinsen: LW 2015-2017, 110GP, 7-11-18, 79PIM
Wanting to add size and toughness, couch Patrick Roy plucked Martinsen out of Dusseldorf in the German League for the Colorado Avalanche. In spite of only playing 55 games with the Avs for the 2015-16 season, Andreas led all NHL rookies in hits. After an additional 55 games in the next season, He found himself traded to Montreal for Sven Andrighetto, a swap of struggling fourth liners. Unable to crack the Canadiens roster, Martinsen was sent down to their AHL affiliate and then traded to Chicago. He continues to play in the AHL as part of the Blackhawks.
Tyson Jost: C 2016-2017 (#27), 2017-2018 (#17), 71GP, 13-10-23, 26PIM
And once again, 27 and 17 swap. Tyson Jost, Colorado’s first round pick in 2016, only played six games representing #27. In that frame he registered a solitary goal. The 2017-18 season was a better indicator of the player Jost may develop into. He also participated in the playoffs in 2018 contributing a goal to the team effort. Tyson is expected to be a key player in the #YoungerFaster development for the Avalanche.
Now comes your moment of decision: Who Wore It Best?[qsm quiz=62]