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Avalanche defenceman Foote to announce retirement

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Associated Press
4/7/2011 12:00:19 PM
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DENVER -- Long-time Colorado Avalanche defenceman Adam Foote plans to retire after 19 hard-hitting years in the NHL.

The club scheduled a news conference for Friday at the Pepsi Center.

Foote has appeared in more regular season and playoff games than any other defenceman in franchise history and was a member of Colorado's two Stanley Cup champions.

Foote's 17th season with the team has been marred by injuries. The captain has been sidelined by a leg injury since March 16. He also missed time this season with a concussion.

He possibly could play this weekend, when the team wraps up its season with games against Dallas on Friday night and Edmonton on Sunday.

"Hopefully, he'll get healthy enough to be able to play at least the last game," teammate Milan Hejduk said Thursday before a game in Dallas. "It'll be fun for him and it'll probably be a big honour.

"He pretty much accomplished everything he ever wanted -- won Olympics, won a couple of Cups, there's not much more to ask for," Hejduk added. "At some point it's got to end, so I guess it's time."

Foote contemplated retirement last summer but signed a one-year deal. He was an integral part of Colorado's turnaround in 2009-10 as he guided a youthful squad into the playoffs after finishing last in the Western Conference the year before.

But this season has hardly gone according to plan. The Avs have tumbled back into being one of the worst teams in the league, leading to several trades that have shaken up the roster. Colorado acquired young defenceman Erik Johnson from the St. Louis Blues in February, a former No. 1 overall pick and a punishing hitter just like Foote.

In recent years, the 39-year-old Foote has taken all-star forward Matt Duchene under his wing, allowing him to live in his basement. It's helped ease Duchene's transition into the NHL.

"I probably can't thank him enough for everything, letting me live with him," Duchene said. "Obviously, he was hard on me a lot of times, but it was obviously for my own good, so it was great to play with him and I think, to get to play with a guy like that, you learn something from him.

"I'm sure everyone in this room will take something from what he did."

Foote is the latest Avalanche star to hang it up, following the lead of Peter Forsberg, who pulled the plug on his latest comeback try and his career after a two-game audition in February.

A fan favourite, Foote played in 1,153 games and compiled 1,534 penalty minutes as he suited up mostly for Colorado but did spend three seasons with Columbus. Foote was the last real link to the team's days as the Quebec Nordiques, the franchise moving to the Mile High City prior to the 1995-96 season.

The Avalanche won their first Stanley Cup title that year, along with another in 2001.

"I just so appreciated how hard Adam played," said Stars coach Marc Crawford, who guided Colorado to the Stanley Cup crown in 1996. "What I always liked about Adam is, not to make a pun, but his foot speed was excellent. He could stay with anybody.

"As the years have waned on, it's been encouraging to see his competitiveness has remained the same. Watching him in a lot of games this year and in the games we've played against him this year, he's still a thorn in the side of anybody who comes to the net."

For Hejduk, not having Foote and his unique sense of humour around in the locker-room will be weird.

"He was a huge part of this club, and a great guy off the ice," Hejduk said. "It was always fun to be around him, he was always joking. He'll be missed."

Now, it's on to a coaching career.

Foote is slated to be an assistant coach for a local boys hockey team, lending a hand to the budding hockey careers of his two sons, Callan and Nolan.

"He's had an unbelievable career and his boys are at an age now where it's going to be fun for him to coach them and be around them a lot," Duchene said. "They're getting at an age where he can help their development and try to help them have a career, so big picture-wise, it's a good thing for him, for sure."

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AP sports writer Arnie Stapleton in Denver and freelance writer John Tranchina in Dallas contributed.

Adam Foote  (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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