The Avalanche were founded in 1972 as the Quebec Nordiques and were one of the charter franchises of the World Hockey Association. The franchise joined the NHL in 1979 as a result of the NHL–WHA merger. Following the 1994–95 season, they were sold to the COMSAT Entertainment Group and relocated to Denver.
In the club's first season in Denver, the Avalanche won the Pacific Division and went on to sweep the Florida Panthers in the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals, becoming the first NHL team to win the Stanley Cup in the season following a relocation. Among teams in the major North American professional sports leagues, only the National Football League (NFL)'s 1937 Washington Redskins have also accomplished the feat. This was the first major professional sports championship a Denver-based team brought to the city.
In the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals, the Avalanche defeated the New Jersey Devils 4–3 to win their second and most recent championship. As a result, they are the only active NHL team that has won all of its Stanley Cup Finals appearances.
The Avalanche have won ten division titles since relocating to Denver (and set the league record for most consecutive division titles at nine in a row from 1995 to 2003; one in Quebec, and the rest in Colorado) and qualified for the playoffs in each of their first ten seasons after relocation; this streak ended in 2007.