DENVER -- Colorado and Montreal swapped goalies Wednesday
with Jose Theodore heading to the Avalanche in exchange for David
The trade marks the second time a high-profile goaltender left
Montreal for Denver, following Patrick Roy's historic move to the
mile-high city during the 1995-96 season.
Theodore, 29, has a 3.46 goals-against average and an .881 save
percentage this season. Aebischer, 28, has a 2.98 goals-against
average and a .900 save percentage.
Theodore was 17-15-5 for Montreal this season after winning a
career-best 33 games in 2003-04.
Aebischer, who had a miserable month of December before turning
his season around in January, is 25-14-2 this season.
Theodore fractured his right heel last month while putting salt
on the ice outside his Montreal home during the league's Olympic
break. He plans to return to hockey in April and the Avs said they
expect him to be 100 percent for the playoffs.
"We are convinced that we are securing our goaltending position
for many years," Avs president and general manager Pierre Lacroix
said in a statement. "He is a proven, All-Star caliber netminder
and at 29 he is entering the prime years of his career. Every year
we are trying to reach the ultimate goal and this represents
another sign to our fans that hasn't changed."
This was the first major swap as the NHL's Thursday trade
deadline approached. With 23 of the league's 30 teams within seven
points of a playoff spot and a month's worth of games still to be
played, not too many clubs were eager to make any major changes.
The new collective bargaining agreement moved up the trade
deadline by two weeks.
Theodore was on Canada's preliminary Olympic eligibility list
but was not placed on the final squad after a December drug test in
which he tested positive for a drug that can be used to mask
steroid use. Canadiens team doctor David Mulder said the
prescription drug, Propecia, was being used to promote hair growth.
Theodore became the sixth goaltender in NHL history to win the
Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's most valuable player in
2001-02, when he led the league with a .931 save percentage.
The Laval, Quebec, native was Montreal's second selection in the
1994 entry draft and has played his whole career with the
Canadiens, compiling a 141-158-30 record with 23 shutouts, a 2.62
goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.
A seventh-round draft pick by Colorado in 1997, Aebischer is
89-58-14 in his career.
After a winless December, he helped turned around Colorado's
season by going 9-2-1 in January, topping the record of eight
January wins set in 2001 by Roy, whose retired number hangs above
the Pepsi Center ice and whose legacy cast a long shadow Aebischer
never could evade.
In 2003-04, Aebischer replaced Roy, who retired after the
2002-03 season after leading Colorado to the Stanley Cup in 1996
Aebischer went 32-19-9 with a 2.09 goals-against average, second
only in club history to Roy's 1.94 mark in 2001-02. He struggled
this season to match that production, especially early on, when he
drew an early hook after some poor starts and even spent several
games in street clothes in December.