The number 51 is reserved for the Russians in the Colorado Avalanche family and hopefully will continue the tradition in the future. This number has only seen 68 players in NHL history proudly bear its threads.
Andrei Kovalenko (1995)
An 8th round draft pick of Quebec in 1990, Kovalenko had a much lengthier three-year career as a Nordique before a brief stint in Colorado. As an Avalanche the right wing’s greatest claim to fame is the inclusion in the Patrick Roy trade to Montreal but also produced 22 points in 26 games while wearing burgundy. In all, Kovalenko had a long successful nine-year NHL career with stops in Quebec/Colorado, Montreal, Carolina, Edmonton, Philadelphia and Boston and a total of 379 points in 620 games before playing seven more years in the KHL. Kovalenko wore number 51 for each team in the NHL except in Philadelphia where he wore both 15 and 25 in his short stay of 13 games.
Fedor Tyutin (2016-17)
Another in a long line of final career stops in Colorado, Tyutin joined the Avalanche as depth on the blueline in the disastrous 48 point campaign. There he contributed 13 points in 69 games before calling it a career, although he continues to reside on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ payroll. Tyutin was the 40th overall pick by the New York Rangers in 2001 and had a four-year career with them before inclusion in the Nikolay Zherdev trade and then spent the next eight years in Columbus. Tyutin enjoyed a long 13 year NHL career and amassed 872 games and 264 points in total. Tyutin also played several years in the KHL during lockouts and before his North American career. Tyutin was loyal to the number 51 and wore it in each of his NHL contests with New York, Columbus and Colorado.
Nikolai Kovalenko (Future)
As the son of Andrei, the younger Kovalenko hopes to become the first second generation Avalanche and to carry on the tradition of wearing the 51. He already follows in his father’s footsteps by wearing the number 51 in the Yaroslavl system in the KHL. For more on the Avalanche’s 2018 sixth round draft selection look HERE.