Terry Frei makes his early Western Conference predictions for the upcoming season just in time to include Super Joe's retirement. On the Avs: 15. Colorado Avalanche Tony Granato is the luckiest man in Colorado. He had two years left on his contract and won't have to coach this team. The "family" reason Patrick Roy cited when turning down the Avalanche's virtually carte blanche offer to be coach was probably that he didn't want his family to see him so miserable in such a bad situation. Under ousted GM Francois Giguere, the Avalanche continued their mishandling of both the salary cap and personnel decisions, leaving little opportunity for short-term fixes under new GM Greg Sherman (like Giguere, a former accountant). The good news for promoted Lake Erie coach Joe Sacco is that expectations are limbolike low, and owner Stan Kroenke is a basketball guy now caught up in the success of the Nuggets. Joe Sakic's retirement announcement is coming Thursday. Decent goaltending from Craig Anderson -- signed from Florida -- or the beleaguered Peter Budaj will help Colorado avoid complete embarrassment. Under the circumstances, the Avs would be best advised to keep Matt Duchene, the third overall choice in the draft, with Brampton for another season.