Maybe the defending champion Colorado Avalanche, which boasts
more stars than NBC's Thursday-night lineup and is deeper than
National Public Radio, does not have it all, but it certainly
has more than anybody else, as Edmonton Oilers general manager
Glen Sather suggested last week even before his team was dusted
5-1 on Friday and 4-1 on Sunday in the first two games of the
Western Conference semifinals at McNichols Sports Arena.
Consider the Avalanche lineup. There is Patrick Roy, the most
formidable playoff goaltender in history, who has, through
Sunday, won more postseason games (92) than anyone else. There
is the scaled-down model of the mid-1980s Wayne Gretzky-Mark
Messier one-two punch in centers Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic,
who at week's end was the only player to have scored a point in
every one of his playoff games this year. There is the
personification of nails on a blackboard in dastardly right wing
Claude Lemieux, who sandbags for the six-month regular season
and then turns into a postseason monster, with 25 goals in his
last 47 playoff games. There is high-octane defenseman Sandis
Ozolinsh, the attacking wizard who is dangerous at both ends of
the ice. Then there is forward Adam Deadmarsh. His name might
not yet be properly etched in the public's consciousness or, for
that matter, on the Stanley Cup--it was spelled deadmarch until
he caught the typo last September and the NHL silversmith was
summoned back to work--but it certainly will be if Colorado
Deadmarsh, who turns 22 on May 10, is the Avalanche's overlooked
star, a blur of a player who can beat any goalie and beat up
just about anyone else. There are some nights when Deadmarsh
seems stuck in neutral--"When Adam stops moving," Colorado coach
Marc Crawford says, "so does his brain"--but usually he doesn't
so much skate as hurtle down his wing, crashing the crease in
search of rebounds. In 22 playoff games last spring he had 17
points and established himself as a force. Through the
Avalanche's first eight playoff games this season, Deadmarsh had
six points and countless bodychecks. "Deader's a tough kid who
plays tough," Roy says. "He's not afraid to go hard to the net,
not afraid to go hard at some guy on the other team, not afraid
to fight." He also is a happy reminder that a Pig can fly.
While Deadmarsh prefers his more prosaic nickname, Deader, he
also answers to Pig, a moniker that the trainer of his junior
team, the Portland Winter Hawks, hung on him six years ago after
he left his sweaty equipment on the dressing room floor.
Deadmarsh insists he has cleaned up his act since then, and his
girlfriend of seven years, Christa Brown, says Deadmarsh has
definite domestic potential. "He does laundry," Brown says, "and
I've taught him the proper way to fold towels."
Although towel-folding won't make Deadmarsh first team
all-Martha Stewart, his home-ec skills have come a long way
since his rookie season with the Quebec Nordiques in 1994-95.
Now he can bake an acceptable salmon fillet, a major step up
from two years ago, when his specialty was pasta alla Palmolive.
"I bought a big pot to cook spaghetti as a pregame meal,"
Deadmarsh says. "My mom told me to wash it out before I used it,
which makes a lot of sense." Apparently she forgot to tell him
that he should also rinse it.
"Gee, I thought he got the nickname Pig because of how much he
eats," says Colorado right wing Mike Keane, Deadmarsh's road
roommate. "Christa says he doesn't eat much at home, but he
makes up for it when he's gone. That boy eats enough for a small
Deadmarsh's physique is as much a body by Arnold Bakery as by
Arnold Schwarzenegger, though his 200 pounds are well spread out
over his nearly six-foot-one frame. When Deadmarsh was taking
college courses in Portland during his junior hockey career, he
passed French but flunked weightlifting because road trips
forced him to miss too many classes. He could conjugate etre,
but he wasn't able to do his classwork on the team bus. "From
time to time Adam's percentage of body fat"--currently 12.6,
slightly above the Colorado team average--"has been a cause for
discussion around here," Crawford says. "It's sort of the
But the more important benchmarks in the career of the NHL's
next top power forward are stars such as Keith Tkachuk of the
Phoenix Coyotes and John LeClair of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Deadmarsh doesn't have their credentials or their highly
developed hockey sense--the ability to get to spots on the ice
where the goals can be spooned as easily as custard--but his
legs and his fearlessness have put him on the fast track.
Tkachuk, 25, didn't have a 50-goal season until his fourth full
year, when he was 24, while the late-blooming LeClair, 27,
finally had his first 50-goal season in his fifth year, at 26.
Deadmarsh led Colorado with 33 goals in '96-97 while moving
around like a pea in a shell game. When Forsberg and Sakic were
injured for long stretches, Deadmarsh moved to center. When
Lemieux went down, Deadmarsh played right wing with Forsberg and
Valeri Kamensky. Mostly Deadmarsh played on Sakic's right side,
but when Keith Jones tore an anterior cruciate ligament against
the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the opening round, Crawford
moved Scott Young to Sakic's line and shifted Deadmarsh to left
wing. "He can play all three forward positions," Crawford says,
a tight grin telegraphing the punch line, "although some would
say that's because Adam doesn't know where he is on the ice."
Penalty box could be his other position. Deadmarsh, who had two
Gordie Howe hat tricks this season--a goal, an assist and a
fight--didn't shrink on March 26 in the 148-penalty-minute
bloodbath against the Red Wings in Detroit. The Wings were still
seething about Lemieux's jaw-fracturing cheap shot on Kris
Draper in the 1996 playoffs, and Colorado was upset over an
early-season match in Denver in which two Avalanche players were
carried off the ice as a result of questionable hits by Detroit
players. In the March 26 game, which the Red Wings won 6-5 in
overtime, Deadmarsh scored one goal and fought not only Detroit
defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov but also the Red Wings' rugged
forward Darren McCarty. If armchair fans of Armageddon get their
wish for a conference final between Colorado and Detroit,
Deadmarsh and his toughness will be center stage no matter which
position he plays. Crawford says that even against the Oilers,
with their quick forwards, Deadmarsh's speed makes him one of
the Avalanche's key players.
The curious thing is, Deadmarsh almost didn't make the Winter
Hawks as a 16-year-old because he was a plodder. He was a
fourth-liner who would grind because he couldn't do much else.
When he turned 17, however, Deadmarsh got bigger and sprouted
wings. Suddenly he was a first-round prospect with a seductive
combination of speed, hands and attitude, even though he had
failed to put up the Nintendo-type numbers common among junior
stars. Deadmarsh never even had a 100-point year. Going into the
last game of '93-94, his final season in Portland, Deadmarsh had
96 points, and Tom and Bede Nishimura, the couple with whom he
billeted, put two $500 savings bonds under a refrigerator magnet
and announced that they were his if he reached the century mark.
"Naturally Adam let it be known in the locker room," says Bede,
who prepared Deadmarsh for interviews by sticking a long wooden
spoon in his face when the two were in the kitchen and asking,
What's the mood in the room tonight? "Lonny Bohonos [now with
the Vancouver Canucks] was one of his linemates, and Lonny told
Adam he'd pass him the puck all game if Adam promised him $250.
Adam told him no. Well, Adam got one point in the first period,
one point in the second and one point in the third with about
eight minutes to go. For the last three minutes, Adam wouldn't
get off the ice. The coach was telling him to get off, but he
wouldn't. Everyone wondered what was going on. When the game was
over, he looked up and saluted us with his stick. It was so
Despite his abilities, Deadmarsh wasn't invited to try out for
the Canadian national junior team in '92. The American program
wasn't flush with talent, so Deadmarsh--who grew up 10 minutes
from the border, in Fruitvale, B.C., but is a dual citizen
because his mother, Eileen, is from Washington state--played for
the U.S. in that year's world junior championships. He is now,
and surely will be next February in the Nagano Olympics, a red,
white and blue star. Last September in the World Cup finals,
Deadmarsh scored the last goal in the dramatic 5-2 victory over
"You know, it was pretty amazing," Deadmarsh says. "I had hardly
won anything in my life, then within three months I win the
Stanley Cup and the World Cup. Incredible."
Deadmarsh, who had Grateful Deadmarsh T-shirts tossed to him by
adoring fans during last spring's Stanley Cup parade, spends
much of his time off the ice competing with Forsberg, his best
friend on the Avalanche. For mythical championship belts,
Deadmarsh and Forsberg will play pool, golf and hoops and even
bowl. (Deadmarsh admits to about a 150 average.) They also have
matching Harleys. "I like Adam because he's an honest person,"
Forsberg says. "He's really straight. There's nothing
complicated about him. He likes to fish. He likes to hang around."
On the ice Deadmarsh is anything but laid back. Crawford frets
over him because he talks himself into slumps, worrying his way
through a week of games if he has nothing tangible to show for
them on the score sheet. "He's been so important this year,
assuming more responsibility when Joe and Peter were injured,
matching up against top centers, battling," Crawford says. "He
just has to let his talent flow."
"The only thing that matters," Deadmarsh says, digging deep into
his stock of wooden-spoon comments, "is if this team wins."