has played with five different NHL clubs during his 12-year career, but a quick look at his numbers suggests that the veteran forward has found his comfort zone in the altitude of the Rocky Mountains.
Brunette, who started his career with the Washington Capitals and also made stops in Nashville, Atlanta and Minnesota before arriving in Denver, recorded his 500th career NHL point on Friday against the Calgary Flames when he assisted on Joe Sakic
’s first-period goal.
“I think when I look back on my career it will be something that really sticks out in my mind,” said the Avalanche assistant captain about cracking the 500-point barrier. “But I was just happy that we came away with a victory tonight against a division opponent.”
Prior to signing with the Avalanche in August of 2005, Brunette had enjoyed a fine career. In 542 career games, the winger had posted a solid 344 points (121g/223a), good for an average of 0.63 points per game. But things took a turn for the better when Brunette became a member of the Avalanche following the 2004-05 lockout season.
The gritty winger made an immediate impact in his first season in Denver by notching 63 points (24g/39a), the second-highest total of his career (he had recorded 69 points with Minnesota in 2001-02). It also marked the second time that Brunette had topped the 60-point plateau.
For an encore, the Sudbury, Ontario, native enjoyed a career-year in 2006-07, finishing second on the Avalanche in scoring and tying for 21st in the league with 83 points on 27 goals and 56 assists – all career bests.
|Brunette has averaged nearly a point per game since joining the Avalanche |
It also marked the first time that Brunette had averaged a point-per-game, something that he is on pace to do again this season with 10 points (2g/8a) in 10 games. Overall during his time with the Avalanche, Brunette has totaled 156 points on 53 goals and 103 assists in 173 contests (.90 PPG), a marked improvement over his pre-Colorado numbers.
Not only has Brunette carved out his own niche in the Avalanche’s offensive system as a grinder who relishes playing behind the net, but he has also become a fixture on the club’s lineup card.
Skating in 381 straight games is no small feat, but it’s another accomplishment on the 34-year old’s impressive resume. Currently, the streak ranks as the third-longest in the NHL. Looking back even further, his resiliency becomes even more impressive, as Brunette has appeared in 654-of-666 possible regular season contests dating back to the 1997-98 campaign.
Brunette doesn’t always show up in the headlines the way other more flashy players often do, but the durability and productivity he’s displayed during his three seasons in Colorado have made him one of the Avalanche’s unsung heroes.