Consider the Avalanche
lineup. There is Patrick Roy, the most formidable playoff goaltender
in history, who has, through Sunday, won more postseason games (92)
than anyone else. There is the scaled-down model of the mid-1980's Wayne
Gretzky-Mark Messier one-two punch in centers Peter Forsberg and Joe
Sakic, who at week's end was the only player to have scored a point
in every one of his playoff games this year. There is the personification
of nails on a blackboard in dastardly right wing Claude Lemieux, who
sandbags for the six-month regular season and then turns into a postseason
monster, with 25 goals in his last 47 playoff games. There is high-octane
defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh, the attacking wizard who is dangerous at
both ends of the ice.
Deadmarsh, who turns 22
on May 10, is the Avalanche's overlooked star, a blur of a player who
can beat any goalie and beat up just about anyone else. There are some
nights when Deadmarsh seems stuck in neutral-"When Adam stops moving,"
Colorado coach Marc Crawford says, "so does his brain"-but
usually he doesn't so much skate as hurtle down his wing, crashing the
crease in search of rebounds. In 22 playoff games last spring he had
17 points and established himself as a force. Through the Avalanche's
first eight playoff games this season, Deadmarsh had six points and
While Deadmarsh prefers his more prosaic nickname, Deader, he also answers to Pig, a moniker that the trainer of his junior team, the Portland Winter Hawks, hung on him six years ago after he left his sweaty equipment on the dressing room floor. Deadmarsh insists he has cleaned up his act since then, and his girlfriend of seven years, Christa Brown, says Deadmarsh has definite domestic potential. "He does laundry," Brown says, "and I've taught him the proper way to fold towels."
won't make Deadmarsh first team all-Martha Stewart, his home-ec skills
have come a long way since his rookie season with the Quebec Nordiques
in 1994-95. Now he can bake an acceptable salmon fillet, a major step
up from two years ago, when his specialty was pasta ala Palmolive. "I
bought a big pot to cook spaghetti as a pregame meal," Deadmarsh
"Gee, I thought he
got the nickname 'Pig' because of how much he eats," says Colorado
right wing Mike Keane, Deadmarsh's road roommate. "Christa says
Deadmarsh's physique is
as much a body by Arnold Bakery as by Arnold Schwarzenegger, though
his 200 pounds are well spread out over his nearly six-foot-one frame.
When Deadmarsh was taking college courses in Portland during his junior
hockey career, he passed French but flunked weightlifting because road
trips forced him to miss too many classes. He could conjugate etre,
but he wasn't able to do his classwork on the team bus. "From time
to time Adam's percentage of body fat" - currently 12.6, slightly
above the Colorado
But the more important benchmarks in the career of the NHL's next top power forward are stars such as Keith Tkachuk of the Phoenix Coyotes and John LeClair of the Philadelphia Flyers. Deadmarsh doesn't have their credentials or their highly developed hockey sense-the ability to get to spots on the ice where the goals can be spooned as easily as custard-but his legs and his fearlessness have put him on the fast track. Tkachuk, 25, didn't have a 50-goal season until his fourth full year, when he was 24, while the late-blooming LeClair, 27, finally had his first 50-goal season in his fifth year, at 26. Deadmarsh led Colorado with 33 goals in '96-97 while moving around like a pea in a shell game.
When Forsberg and Sakic
were injured for long stretches, Deadmarsh moved to center. When Lemieux
went down, Deadmarsh played right wing with Forsberg and Valeri Kamensky.
Mostly Deadmarsh played on Sakic's right side, but when Keith Jones
tore an anterior cruciate ligament against the Chicago Blackhawks in
Game 6 of the opening round, Crawford moved Scott Young to Sakic's line
and shifted Deadmarsh to left wing. "He can play all three forward
positions," Crawford says,
Penalty box could be his other position. Deadmarsh, who had two Gordie Howe hat tricks this season-a goal, an assist and a fight--didn't shrink on March 26 in the 148-penalty-minute bloodbath against the Red Wings in Detroit. The Wings were still seething about Lemieux's jawfracturing cheap shot on Kris Draper in the 1996 playoffs, and Colorado was upset over an early season match in Denver in which two Avalanche players were carried off the ice as a result of questionable hits by Detroit players. In the March 26 game, which the Red Wings won 6-5 in overtime, Deadmarsh scored one goal and fought not only Detroit defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov but also the Red Wings' rugged forward Darren McCarty. If armchair fans of Armageddon get their wish for a conference final between Colorado and Detroit, Deadmarsh and his toughness will be center stage no matter which position he plays. Crawford says that even against the Oilers, with their quick forwards, Deadmarsh's speed makes him one of the Avalanche's key players.
The curious thing is, Deadmarsh almost didn't make the Winter Hawks as a 16-year-old because he was a plodder. He was a fourth-liner who would grind because he couldn't do much else. When he turned 17, however, Deadmarsh got bigger and sprouted wings. Suddenly he was a firstround prospect with a seductive combination of speed, hands and attitude, even though he had failed to put up the Nintendo-type numbers common among junior stars. Deadmarsh never even had a 100-point year. Going into the last game of '93-94, his final season in Portland, Deadmarsh had 96 points, and Tom and Bede Nishimura, the couple with whom he billeted, put two $500 savings bonds under a refrigerator magnet and announced that they were his if he reached the century mark.
Despite his abilities, Deadmarsh wasn't invited to try out for the Canadian national junior team in '92. The American program wasn't flush with talent, so Deadmarsh-who grew up 10 minutes from the border, in Fruitvale, B.C., but is a dual citizen because his mother, Eileen, is from Washington state-played for the U.S. in that year's world junior championships. He is now, and surely will be next February in the Nagano Olympics, a red, white and blue star. Last September in the World Cup finals, Deadmarsh scored the last goal in the dramatic 5-2 victory over Canada.
"You know, it was pretty amazing," Deadmarsh says. "I had hardly won anything in my life, then within three months I win the Stanley Cup and the World Cup. Incredible."
Deadmarsh, who had Grateful Deadmarsh T-shirts tossed to him by adoring fans during last spring's Stanley Cup parade, spends much of his time off the ice competing with Forsberg, his best friend on the Avalanche. For mythical championship belts, Deadmarsh and Forsberg will play pool, golf and hoops and even bowl. (Deadmarsh admits to about a 150 average.) They also have matching Harleys. "I like Adam because he's an honest person," Forsberg says. "He's really straight. There's nothing complicated about him. He likes to fish. He likes to hang around."
On the ice Deadmarsh is anything but laid back. Crawford frets over him because he talks himself into slumps, worrying his way through a week of games if he has nothing tangible to show for them on the score sheet. "He's been so important this year, assuming more responsibility when Joe and Peter were injured, matching up against top centers, battling," Crawford says. "He just has to let his talent flow."
"The only thing that matters," Deadmarsh says, digging deep into his stock of wooden-spoon comments, "is if this team wins."