Colorado Avalanche forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog grew up watching Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Roy and other greats dominate in burgundy and blue. If there was any doubt that the torch has been passed to the new generation of Avs, that should be put to rest as Forsberg’s number 21 raises to the rafters tonight.
Fittingly enough, the future Hall of Famer’s ceremony will serve as a prelude to a season-opening game against their greatest rivals, the Detroit Red Wings. While the Avalanche have floundered since losing legends, the Red Wings managed to stay relevant with savvy, proactive decisions.
Many people snickered when it became clear that Forsberg would give it one more go last season. The Avalanche didn’t exactly improve his odds by throwing him right back into the fire with back-to-back games and the results were depressingly predictable.
Forsberg retired after those two games while Adam Foote mercifully brought his career to an end this off-season as well. Now the only remnants of that outstanding era can be found in the Avalanche front office, with Sakic ranking as one of the many suits.
It’s up to Duchene, Landeskog, Semyon Varlamov, Erik Johnson and other mostly young players to make impressions of their own. The current Colorado crew is a big wild card, but at least they can turn the page for good on Oct. 8.
Update: Here is video footage of the jersey retirement ceremony. For more emotional Avalanche material, check out the team’s tribute to fallen players and current players wearing Forsberg’s number 21 before the game.