- Associated Press - Friday, April 8, 2011

DENVER (AP) - Hard-hitting defenseman Adam Foote remained a tough guy to the end.

Even in front of a room full of family, friends and teammates, the longtime Colorado Avalanche standout hardly shed a tear, barely even had a quiver in his voice, as he announced his retirement Friday.

Just like that, one of the final links to the team’s days as the Quebec Nordiques was done.

Well, nearly.

The 39-year-old captain plans to play in the season finale Sunday against Edmonton despite being sidelined since mid-March with a leg injury.

Foote was stoic as a video tribute played and didn’t come close to breaking down as he reflected on his 19 seasons in the NHL that included two Stanley Cup titles and plenty of bone-rattling hits.

Turns out, he’s as tough on feelings as opposing forwards.

And he was definitely rough on forwards.

“I both loved AND hated playing against him,” said former forward Brendan Shanahan, who played for the Detroit Red Wings in the heyday of their intense rivalry with the Avalanche. “I am reminded of our friendship on the ice every time my shoulder locks up or my nose makes that constant funny noise while I sleep.”

Foote’s had a knack for big hits all his life. The home movies only served to verify it.

As part of the highlight package, there were clips of Foote as a kid playing hockey, bowling over opponents, sending players tumbling to the ice. The footage drew chuckles from teammates in attendance, players such as Milan Hejduk, Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene, the All-Star forward that Foote invited to live in his basement two years ago to help groom and mentor.

Even Foote couldn’t help but grin at his bruising childhood checks.

“I thought maybe I learned that over the years,” he said. “Guess it was part of my makeup.”

Foote was never a big offensive weapon, more feared for his physical brand of play. He appeared in more regular season and playoff games than any other defenseman in franchise history.

With his retirement, Foote becomes the latest Avalanche great to step away, joining Patrick Roy, Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic on the sideline. Forsberg pulled the plug on his latest comeback and his career after a two-game audition in February, while Sakic, who retired nearly two years ago, recently rejoined the team in an executive role.

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