A Series: Looking into Avalanche and Nordiques Player Numbers: Number 29

One-time Nordiques' captain, Steven Finn - Robert Laberge, Getty

Our lockout filler series continues (and when this is done, stay tuned for I Wonder What This Belly Button Lint Is? The obvious choice here will be Ryan Stoa, but there have been a couple of other interesting players to wear #29.

Goran Hogosta - During the 7 years that Quebec operated in the WHA, their main goalie was Richard Brodeur. Brodeur had originally been drafted by the NHL Islanders, but instead chose to play in the WHA (and, I am contractually obligated to note that one of Brodeur's backups was Jim Corsi). At any rate, when the 4 WHA teams joined the NHL in 1979, NHL teams were allowed to reclaim the rights of WHA players they had formerly held, which the Islanders did with Brodeur. However, WHA teams could exempt 2 skaters and 2 goalies from this poaching and Quebec used theirs to keep the rights to Brodeur...but then turned around and traded him to the Islanders for Goran Hogosta (talk about burying the lead!). Goran Hogosta is a Swedish goalie who had spent a couple of years in the Islanders system - his only NHL action being mopup work in a 9-0 shutout against the Atlanta Flames. He played one season in Quebec = 21 games total - backing up new goalie Michel Dion...Barry Legge's old teammate in Cincinnati who Quebec had claimed in the dispersal draft. After the 79-80 season, he returned to Sweden and was never heard from again (this might be an exaggeration).

Dave Pichette - According to Hockey-Reference.com, there have only 28 NHL players from Newfoundland. Defenseman Dave Pichette is one of just 7 on that list with 100 NHL points (and one of 3 from Grand Falls, a town of about 13,000). Pichette went undrafted after his tenure with the Quebec Ramparts on the QMJHL and the Nordiques signed him in 1979. The power-play specialist spent 4 years with the Nordiques, playing in 189 games, with 16 goals, 74 assists, +13 and 275 penalty minutes. In February of the 83-84 season, he was traded to St Louis for Andre Dore.

Jim Dobson - This winger played 12 NHL games over 4 seasons with 3 teams (including the Rockies). He played one game with the Nordiques.

Roger Hagglund - This defenseman is the 4th player on this list (out of 4) that I had never heard of before. As it turns out, he was a Swede with ah-MAZ-ing hair. He was drafted by the Blues in 1980 but he didn't come stateside until 1984 when the Nordiques acquired his rights from St Louis for cash. He spent most of the 84-85 season in the AHL, playing just 3 games with Quebec. After that one season, he Holosed it back to his old team in Sweden - Bjorkloven. Overall, he played 13 seasons for Bjorkloven, but was tragically killed in a car accident at age 30. After his death, Bjorkloven retired the #23 he wore for them.

Peter Andersson - Another Swede? Yeah, like that's ever going to work guys. Andersson is a Swedish defenseman who played parts of 3 seasons for the Capitals before the Nordiques acquired him at the 1985 deadline for a 3rd round pick. He put up fairly decent numbers in the NHL, and finished strong in Quebec with 9 points in 12 games. But, in a story that's all too familiar, Andersson went back to Sweden after the season was up. Coincidentally, he too played for Bjorkloven - he and Hagglund were teammates for many years together on the club.

Yves Heroux - In their first NHL season, the Nordiques drafted 3 sensation players in Dale Hunter, Michel Goulet and Anton Stastny. Of course, the 79 draft is considered one of the richest in history, in part because the league lowered the draft age from 19 to 18. Still, that's a solid haul. Unfortunately, the Nordiques wouldn't draft another star player again until 1987, and the poor draft record is part of the reason that Quebec was so awful in the late 80s. In 1983, for example, the Nordique's top pick was Yves Heroux, 32nd overall. He played in one NHL game, which is indicative of the entire draft. The only player the Nordiques drafted in 83 with more than 200 NHL games was 8th rounder Tommy Albelin.

Steven Finn - One of the few early-80s picks that did pan out is Quebec's 3rd rounder from 1984, Steven Finn. The defenseman spent 10 seasons with the Nordiques, and even served as co-captain with Joe Sakic for a season after the departure of Peter Stastny. He made the move with Quebec to Colorado, but was traded to Tampa for a draft pick just before the Avs' first season started. He played a couple more years in the NHL before retiring to become a famous cricket player. Or, perhaps that's a different Steven Finn. For the Nordiques, Finn played in 605 games scoring 29 goals, 73 assists, a healthy 1514 penalty minutes and an unhealthy -112 rating (keep in mind, he played on some baaaad teams). The games, goals and penalty minutes are tops on the franchise list for #29s. Dave Pichette tops him in the assists category by 1.

Eric Messier - The defenseman (and, if I remember correctly, occasional winger) was signed by the Avalanche as an undrafted free agent in 1995. Although he didn't appear for the Avalanche during their '96 Cup season, he was on the Bear's Calder Cup winning team in 97 and the Avs' Cup team in 2001. Messier played parts of 7 seasons in Denver, playing in 385 games, scoring 25 goals, 47 assists, 130 penalty minutes with a +1 rating. At the 2003 Entry Draft, he was traded to Florida with Vaclav Nedorost for Peter Worrell and a 2nd round pick (later traded). He played just 21 games for the Panthers, ultimately suffering a wrist injury that would end his career.

Scott Parker - When the Avalanche reacquired The Sheriff at the 2007 deadline, his #27 was taken by Ossi Vaananen, so Parker took 29 for 10 games. Vaananen was gone the next year, so Parks went back to 27. In other news, his wikipedia entry has a quote from Brett's interview. #bigtime.

Daniel Tjarnqvist - I have to say I've learned a few things while doing the research for these. For example, I learned a ton about the WHA. And I've found that the Av's recent history of taking a chance on a European free agent isn't recent at all - it goes all the way back to the franchise's NHL beginnings. In their 2nd season, Peter Stastny came to Quebec along with his brother Anton (remember, Anton had been drafted, Peter was not) which obviously worked very well. It seems like the team has been trying to duplicate the success ever since. Tjarnqvist is the 4th Swedish one-and-done player to wear #29 for the Avalanche - 3 defensemen and a goalie. The traded for Hogosta and Andersson, only to see both players head to Sweden after one year. They signed Hagglund after getting his rights from St Louis...he too left after one season. Tjarnqvist had played a few seasons in the NHL but had just finished a season in the KHL when the Avalanche signed him in 2008. He spent one year stateside, appearing in just 37 games with the Avalanche. He went back to the KHL the following season. He's currently playing for Djugardens of the SEL - that would be the team with Gabriel Landeskog and Calvin's younger brother, Chet (and his other brother Daryl).

Ryan Stoa - Need any reminders that the NHL drafts are not a sure thing? In 2005, the Avalanche drafted 4 forwards in the 2nd round - Ryan Stoa, Paul Stastny, Tom Fritsche and Chris Durand. You know how this story ends. Stastny has had a solid career with the Avalanche. Stoa score 7 points in 37 games with the Avalanche and is currently with the Capitals' affiliate (Hershey). Fritsche never played a game for the Avalanche and last played for Tulsa of the CHL; he's currently a free agent, but sat out all of last season with concussion problems. Durand wasn't signed by the Avalanche and is currently attending the University of Saskatchewan.

To me, this is a two horse race between Finn and Messier. Messier won the Cup, but IMO Messier was more of a depth player while Finn was a regular for 10 years. As an added bonus he was co-captain for one year. He gets my vote here.

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