Colorado Avalanche: Bob Hartley
The Avalanche relocated from Quebec in 1995 and never looked back, winning the Stanley Cup in their first-ever season. Normally, that would put whoever the coach was at that time the easy favorite for the most beloved by his fan base, but the Avalanche managed to put together a run that was even more special then that, and it couldn’t have been possible without head coach Bob Hartley.
Hartley was at the helm for Colorado from the 1998-99 season through the midway point of the 2002-03 season. Under Hartley, the Avalanche never missed the playoffs, advanced to the Conference Finals in each of his first two seasons and won the division in each of his first five years.
The fabled Ray Bourque Stanley Cup run, arguably one of the greatest moments in hockey history, took place during Hartley’s tenure with the Avalanche. Bourque was acquired by the Avalanche at 2000 NHL trade deadline for a chance to win the Stanley Cup, but the Avalanche fell short in the Conference Finals. With the legendary defenseman Bourque in the twilight of his career, the Hartley-led Avalanche made it their mission to bring the the Stanley Cup to Colorado the next season.
Hartley’s Avalanche won the Presidents’ Trophy the following season with 118 points. In the playoffs The playoffs began with a sweep of the Canucks, surviving a seven games with the Los Angeles Kings in the second round and crushing the St. Louis Blues in five games to advance to the Stanley Cup Final to meet the defending champion New Jersey Devils.
In the 2001 Stanley Cup Final, Colorado fell behind three games to two but rallied back to force a Game 7 on home ice. Colorado won the Game 7 3-1, followed by simply one of greatest moments in sports history. After 22 seasons, Ray Bourque got to lift his first Stanley Cup. A moment that wouldn’t have been possible with Bob Hartley behind the bench.