On a team that is so well known for its young core of up and coming players, defenseman Cory Sarich is one of the few veterans with a lengthy NHL resume. He was a rookie with the Buffalo Sabres during the 1999-2000 season, then spent seven years with the Tampa Bay Lightning (six seasons due to the 2004-2005 stoppage), six more years with the Calgary Flames, and just joined the Colorado Avalanche this past season. He has played in almost 1000 NHL games and was a Stanley Cup Champion with the Lightning in 2004.
Throughout his career, Sarich's role has been that of a faceless stalwart who not many fans have known. On every team he has played for he has gone about doing his job with professionalism and been a solid piece to the puzzle, but he never particularly stood out. You don't get to nearly a thousand games at the NHL level if you aren't a more than capable player, but Sarich, like many defensemen, performs the often thankless job of being a third pair defenseman who doesn't do much offensively but holds down the fort whenever he is on the ice.
Last season, the Avalanche overhauled their defensive personnel, as was well documented. Cory Sarich was a part of that overhaul. He was acquired in the same trade that brought forward Alex Tanguay back to the Avalanche in exchange for forward David Jones and defenseman Shane O'Brien. Since then, Sarich has done what he's always done. He plays tough, fundamentally sound hockey, neither standing out for extraordinary play nor for making critical mistakes.
Sarich will be 36 next season, so he is now playing out the final years of his NHL career. No one knows how many more seasons he will play for, but he figures to continue in his ever reliable role next season for Colorado. He won't have to concern himself with the developing talent the Avalanche have on defense. They are going to be coming in just as he is heading out. He won't be replaced against his will. When he is ready to step down, some young defenseman currently in Colorado's system will step up to take his place. For now, he still has to officially make it to the 1000 game mark.
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