Coach Joe Sacco isn't afraid to make controversial decisions. In the second home game of this season, Sacco pulled his goalie with a full two minutes left. He chose to play enforcer David Koci on defense during the injury-riddled 2010-2011 season. But it's his decisions about how to handle struggling players that has probably been the most controversial of all.
As a rookie coach in the NHL, Sacco sat one of the team's highest paid players in John-Michael Liles, choosing to ice in his place defensemen who were clearly less talented. Last season, he continued to play Matt Hunwick while leaving Jonas Holos in the press box, wasting a growth opportunity for the young blueliner. In his third year as head coach of the Avalanche, Sacco is doing it again. He started the season by putting TJ Galiardi on the fourth line, limiting his minutes drastically, despite what appeared to be solid play. Then, after promoting Galiardi, he put the team's star, Matt Duchene, on that bottom line.
In response to questions about these personnel decisions, Sacco has maintained that he sits players when he feels they can give more than they have been. But does this method really work? It seemed to with Liles; he elevated his play to levels that garnered Norris trophy talk. Holos, on the other hand, is now playing in Europe rather than remaining in the Avalanche system. Galiardi got new linemates, so he must have started showing Sacco what he wanted to see. And Duchene? It's a little early to say as he's only one game into his stint on Sacco's bad side, but his offensive production didn't improve. So what say you? How do you feel about the doghouse treatment?