Teemu Selanne is a notorious speed freak who once fed his habit
with a flight aboard an F/A-18 Hornet. His large automobile
collection includes a Ferrari, a Dodge Viper, a Corvette and a
Porsche. He's hell on skates, too. With the arrival of Selanne
and Paul Kariya, terms like jet-powered and high-octane will be
used often this season to describe the Avalanche offense.
In July, Selanne, a three-time 50-goal scorer, and Kariya, the
former Mighty Ducks sniper, signed with Colorado in a
collaboration as finely engineered as one of Selanne's exotic
cars. Former teammates in Anaheim and fast friends, they took
huge pay cuts to reunite, particularly Kariya, whose salary
dropped from $10 million last year to $1.2 million. Selanne will
make considerably more than his buddy--$5.8 million, or $700,000
less than the Sharks paid him last season--but, Kariya says, "he
promised me I'd get to drive his Porsche this year."
The Avalanche is so loaded that Selanne and Kariya will play on
the second line with Joe Sakic (26 goals in 2002-03). The top
unit features center Peter Forsberg, who won the Hart and Art
Ross trophies last season; Milan Hejduk, who was the league's
only 50-goal scorer; and Alex Tanguay, who had 26 goals.
While scoring goals won't be a problem, keeping the other team
from doing so might be. With the retirement of Patrick Roy, the
No. 1 goalie job falls to St. Patrick's backup for the last three
years, David Aebischer, a 25-year-old Swiss. His butterfly style
will remind some of Roy, but his big-game resume won't. Aebischer
(7-12-0, 2.43 goals-against average last season) has barely more
than a period's worth of NHL playoff experience, and he failed
miserably at the 2002 Olympics (0-1-1, 4.43). "You never know
with goalies until they're Number 1, but he plays a lot like
Patrick," says Sakic, the team captain.
Aebischer spent part of his summer touring U.S. landmarks such as
the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. The Avs hope he paid
attention to the monument to netminding that used to play in
front of him. --S.C.
( 1 Best - 30 Worst )
POWER PLAY 1
PENALTY KILLING 20
G.M. AND COACH 4
After the Avs signed wings Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne, many
observers conceded the Cup to them. Not so fast! They are taking
a huge risk in replacing retired G Patrick Roy with unproven
David Aebischer and Philippe Sauve. If those two flop, expect
G.M. Pierre Lacroix to trade for a No. 1 (Nikolai Khabibulin
perhaps?).... Outside of Rob Blake and Adam Foote, the defense is
suspect.... Tony Granato, a rookie behind the bench last year,
was outcoached badly in the playoffs.