May 30, 2008

2001: Hoo-Ray! Bourque Gets His Cup

The year is 2001. After 22 seasons in the NHL, Ray Bourque would leave the ice with the Stanley Cup held high above his head.

Bourque spent 21 years in Boston, where he took the torch from Bobby Orr and was arguably the best defenseman ever since. But Bourque's Bruins never got closer to the Cup than a pair of 4-1 series losses to the Edmonton Oilers.

In 2000 Bourque agreed to be traded to the Colorado Avalanche. With the Bruins floundering, Bourque had no hope of winning a Cup in Boston any longer. He agreed to join the Avs in pursuit of the elusive championship.

The trade actually took place at the trading deadline of the previous season, but the Avalanche could not make the Cup finals in 2000. Bourque agreed to a new one year contract in hopes of one final chance.

It turned out be a good move by Bourque. Mind you, the defending champion New Jersey Devils stood in his way, and they did their damnedest to spoil the party.

The Devils had the Avs on the ropes with a 3-2 lead after 5 games. Patrick Roy pitched a 4-0 shutout in game 6 to force game seven. With home ice advantage the Avalanche completed "Mission 16W" with a 3-1 win in game seven.

As captain, Joe Sakic reluctantly accepted the Stanley Cup at center ice. But he immediately passed it off the man everyone wanted to see it with. Ray Bourque finally had his Stanley Cup.

Although led by the goaltending of Roy and inspiration of Bourque, it was Sakic who was the star of this playoffs for Colorado. With Peter Forsberg missing most of the playoffs after having his spleen removed, Sakic led the league with 13 goals and 26 points.

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