1995–96 was the first season in Denver for the Avalanche, who had relocated from Quebec City where they were previously known as the Quebec Nordiques. Prior to the season, Colorado was assigned to the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. They played at McNichols Arena, the building that the New Jersey Devils played in from 1976 to 1982 when they were known as the Colorado Rockies. The Avs would play in that building until they moved to the Pepsi Center in 1999.
The Detroit Red Wings had a spectacular season, finishing with the second-highest regular-season point total in NHL history (131 points), and setting the NHL record for most wins ever in the regular season (62). However, they fell to the Avalanche in the Western Conference final, the sixth game of which marked the beginning of the heated Detroit-Colorado rivalry, which would last for years to come. Jaromir Jagr broke the record for assists and points by a right winger in a single season . Mario Lemieux had the NHL's last 150+ point season with 161 points in 70 games. This would be the last season in which at least 1 player would score at least 60 goals (Jagr and Lemieux) until 2008. The New Jersey Devils became the first team since the 1969-70 Montreal Canadiens to miss the playoffs after winning the Stanley Cup the previous season.
The Colorado Avalanche swept the final series over the Florida Panthers in the minimum four games. Both teams were making their first appearance in the Final. For Colorado, it followed the team's first season in Denver, Colorado after moving from Quebec City.
March 20, 1996: C Jesse Belanger traded from Florida to Vancouver for Vancouver's third round pick in 1996 Entry Draft and future considerations.
March 20, 1996: LW Ken Baumgartner traded from Toronto to Anaheim for Winnipeg's fourth round pick in 1996 Entry Draft (previously acquired).
March 20, 1996: D J. J. Daigneault traded from St. Louis to Pittsburgh for Pittsburgh's sixth round pick in 1996 Entry Draft.
March 20, 1996: LW Kevin Miller traded from San Jose to Pittsburgh for Pittsburgh's fifth round choice in 1996 Entry Draft and future considerations.
March 20, 1996: LW Pat Conacher and Calgary's sixth round pick in 1997 Entry Draft traded from Calgary to NY Islanders for C Bob Sweeney.
March 20, 1996: RW Kirk Maltby traded from Edmonton to Detroit for D Dan McGillis.
March 20, 1996: D Jaroslav Modry and Ottawa's eighth round pick in 1996 Entry Draft traded from Ottawa to Los Angeles for RW Kevin Brown.
March 20, 1996: LW Patrick Poulin, D Igor Ulanov and Chicago's second round pick in 1996 Entry Draft traded from Chicago to Tampa Bay for D Enrico Ciccone and Tampa Bay's second round pick in 1996 Entry Draft.
March 20, 1996: LW Yuri Khmylev and Buffalo's eighth round pick in 1996 Entry Draft traded from Buffalo to St. Louis for D Jean-Luc Grand Pierre, Ottawa's second round pick in 1996 Entry Draft (previously acquired) and St. Louis' third round pick in 1997 Entry Draft.
March 20, 1996: C Dave Hannan traded from Buffalo to Colorado for Colorado's sixth round pick in 1996 Entry Draft.
March 20, 1996: RW Alek Stojanov traded from Vancouver to Pittsburgh for RW Markus Naslund.
March 20, 1996: RW Ravil Gusmanov traded from Winnipeg to Chicago for Chicago's fourth round pick in 1996 Entry Draft.
March 20, 1996: RW Joe Kocur traded from NY Rangers to Vancouver for G Kay Whitmore.
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