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A Series: Looking into Avalanche and Nordiques Player Numbers: Number 35

The Fizenator
The Fizenator
Robert Laberge, Allsport

Number 35 is a goalie exclusive; only goalies have worn this number for the Nordiques and Avalanche. Seven different goalies have worn it. Interestingly, to me at least, six of the seven are from Canada and three are from Quebec.

Ron Grahame - Ron Grahame only played 8 games with the Nordiques, but he has a TON of links to the team and the area. The BC native played for the University of Denver, where he was teammates with Peter McNab. After a short stint in the Southern Hockey League playing for - I kid you not - the Macon Whoopees, he joined the Houston Aeros of the WHA where he was teammates with Gordie, Mark and Marty Howe. In 1977, he was signed by the Boston Bruins as a free agent - and played 40 games for them under coach Don Cherry (and again as a teammate of McNab). The following offseason, he was traded to the Kings for a 1st round pick - a pick that the Bruins would use to draft Raymond Bourque. Grahame spent three years with the Kings before being sold to the Nordiques for cash in December of 1980. Grahame played just 8 games for the Nordiques, and then was sent to the AHL where he formed a goalie tandem with Ken Holland. He retired after that season, and returned to DU to become an assistant coach and today is the Senior Associate Athletics Director at the university. Meanwhile, his wife, Charlotte, is an executive with the Avalanche and her name is somewhere on this silver thingy. Their son, John Grahame, recently spent a year and a half with the Monsters (and also had a brief bench stint with the Avs).

Dan Bouchard - Bouchard was drafted by the Bruins in 1970, but was claimed by Atlanta in the expansion draft of 1972 and was with the Flames for their entire stay in Atlanta (check out the awesome mask or this one...or this one). Bouchard moved with the team to Calgary in 1980, but just a few months into the season he was traded to the Nordiques for Jamie Hislop. The following year, he helped backstop the team past Boston and Montreal in close (and contentious) playoff series before losing in the Conference Finals to the Islanders. He spent 5 years with the Nordiques (although, tragically, he seemed to have dropped the dope masks, although his backup John Garret sported a cool one instead). Bouchaed was traded to the Jets before the 85 season. He played a year, then headed to play in Switzerland. But he suffered a knee injury just a few games into his Swiss career and he retired. In retirement, he moved back to Atlanta where he coaches hockey at the Life University (yep, it apparently is a real thing). He's 3rd on the franchise goalie list for games played (225) and 2nd in wins (107).

Stephane Fiset - Confession time: I always get Fiset confused with Jocelyn Thibault. As seen here a few days ago, Fiset originally donned #31 for the Nordiques, But after 3 years and 32 games, he switched to #35. I'm not sure why he switched, as it's not like he wore 35 in juniors or in the minors (that's a 31). At any rate, he stuck with 35 for the rest of his tenure with Quebec and Colorado. Fiset is 5th on the franchise goalie list in games played (188) and wins (84). After backing up Patrick Roy on the 95-96 Cup team, Fiset was traded to the Kings on a draft day deal in 96 - Fiset for Eric Lacroix, with teams swapping first round picks. Knee injuries ended up shortening Fiset's career - he was 31 when he retired.

Rick Tabaracci - Tabaracci had worn #31 with 7 different teams - his entire career. And so when the Avalanche acquired him in December of 2000, with #31 available...he went with #35. Goalies. #amiright? I believe the Avs traded for Tabaracci with the thought of protecting Marc Denis during next summer's expansion draft. Teams could protect two goalies, but if they did so they would need to have a 3rd goalie who had either played 10 games during the 99-00 season or 25 games during 98-99 and 99-00. Ultimately, Tabaracci didn't play enough to qualify - he did play 26 games during the previous 2 seasons, but only appearances of 31 minutes or more counted and he had a several games below this threshold. But, he still helped Colorado in the draft. A few weeks before the draft, the Avalanche traded Denis to Columbus and made an unofficial side deal with the BJs to draft Tabaracci even though he was at the tale end of his career and was going to be a free agent a few weeks after the draft. Columbus drafted Tabaracci first overall, and since teams could only lose one goalie or one defenseman, the Avs were able to ensure that they wouldn't lose unprotected played like Greg de Vries and David Aebischer (forward Jeff Odgers was drafted by Minnesota). Tabaracci signed with Dallas less than 2 weeks after the draft, spent a season with their minor league affiliate, and retired the following summer. So, while he only played in 2 games for the Avs - one full game and 27 seconds of mopup work - he did have an impact on the team.

Tommy Salo - The 2003-2004 season was cursed, perhaps beginning with the Patrick Roy retirement the summer before (or the playoff meltdown against the Wild). Going for it all before the pending lockout, the Avs signed Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya. Both had their worst seasons of their career. Peter Forsberg was healthy for just 39 games. The Steve Moore incident happened. And Pierre Lacroix made two poor deadline trades in a desperate hope to push the team over the hump, stripping the team of some good young talent. In one deal, he moved Derek Morris and Keith Ballard to the Coyotes for Ossi Vaananen, Chris Gratton and a 2nd round pick (yes guys, I know). Gratton contributed 3 points - none in the playoffs - and was mercifully gone when the lockout lifted. Vaananen had two poor seasons in Denver (12 points total) before departing via free agency. Meanwhile, Ballard and Morris have been solid defensemen for years. Meanwhile, with Roy gone the Avs' goalie tandem was David Aebischer and Philippe Sauve. While Abby was very solid that year, he had little playoff experience. And his backup, Sauve, was perhaps the worst goalie to every play for the Avalanche. To shore things up, Lacroix traded blueline prospect Tom Gilbert to the Oilers for Tommy Salo. Salo was near the end of his career - indeed, this would prove to be his last NHL season - and appeared in just 6 games for the Avalanche, who ultimately fizzled out in the 2nd round that year. When the dust had settled, Lacroix had moved three coveted defensive assets (all three have played in 400+ games since the trades) that could have definitely helped the team after the lockout. In return, the team got two short-term players who contributed little and a defenseman that simply wasn't very good (AND WHY COULDN'T HE HIT ANYONE, CAN ANYONE TELL ME THAT PLEASE???).

Tyler Weiman - Weiman was taken in the 5th round of the 2002 draft, a draft that yielded just 2 players (out of 10) who would play more than 1 NHL game. And both - Johnny Boychuk and Tom Gilbert - have seen the bulk of their action after the Avalanche dumped them. Moving on, Weiman had a very solid career in the Avs' system but could never break onto the Avs' roster, short of a cleanup game on opening night in Nashville in 2007 after Peter Budaj was pulled (Jose Theodore was injured to start the season) and a few ballcap appearances. After several solid years in Lake Erie, Weiman signed with Vancouver and spent a season with their affiliate, the Manitoba Moose. Since 2011, Weiman has been playing in Germany. He's currently teammates with Yan Stastny and former Avalanche Steve Reinprecht.

J.S. Giguere - As a Quebecois, Giggy was probably destined to play for the franchise at some point. He signed with the Avalanche before the start of last season. He played very well last year for the Avs in a backup / mentoring role to Semyon Varlamov. Although smugface is probably going to wipe out this NHL season, Giguere is under contract through 2013-2014. Giggy's 32 franchise games puts him 3rd on #35 list behind Bouchard and Fiset. For those who just look at Avalanche games, Fiset has a 5-game edge on Giguere, 37-32.

For those who are obsessed with goalies, this has been a good week or two for you. Sadly, #35 is pretty much the end of the goalie talk as there are just a few goalies left on the list (I count four).