Saturday, August 20, 2011

Farewell, Chris Drury...

Retirement is breaking up the old gang.

Well, actually Pierre Lacroix broke up the gang years ago, but still... Peter Forsberg (again) and Adam Foote (good riddance -- it's a Columbus thing) retired this season.

Just a few weeks after a buyout from the New York Rangers, NHL great Chris Drury has joined his fellow Avs legends... too soon.

That's not to say I wanted him still playing. Let's face it, if the knee is no good, the knee is no good. It just bums me out, is all.

Drury was one of those guys you knew could and would do good things on the ice. Watching him during his rookie campaign, in which we saw both Drury and fellow rookie Milan Hejduk as legitimate scoring threats in the NHL, you could see a player who was fast, worked his ass off, and put points on the board. Plus, off the ice... he just seemed like a good dude.

I think that I – and probably a lot of other Avalanche fans at the time – pretty much lived under the assumption that one day Drury would wear the "C" when Joe Sakic retired.

Sadly, that was not to be. Lacroix eventually traded Drury to Calgary. Drury's career also took him through Buffalo – where he and Danny Briere led Buffalo to some good times – and, unfortunately, to New York. Nothing personal, of course. I just hate the Rangers. Talent like Drury's was wasted there.

Still, those first few years of Drury's career were great to watch. Watching him and Hejduk quickly emerge as stars in the NHL – even going head-to-head for the Calder trophy as rookies – and seeing him play alongside hockey legend Ray Bourque 2000 and 2001, will always be etched in my pre-Columbus Blue Jackets memory bank.

Best goal ever? Game 6 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals.

Drury takes a pass from Adam Foote and comes streaking down the left side. Drury stops to let one Devil go by him, then dekes to his right to let another defender blow past. He lets loose a wrister from the slot, right past Martin Brodeur.

I tell you, it was pure art.

Well done, and farewell, sir... you will be missed.

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