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.
During the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons, each team played 84 games (including two neutral site games). Starting in the 1995-96 season, the neutral site games were eliminated, which reduced the regular season to 82 games per team.
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 one 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: 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.
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