A Plea to the Avalanche Front Office


Dear Avalanche Front Office,

We're all grown ups here (mostly), so there's no need to beat around the bush and mince words here. Joe Sacco is not going to be the coach of the Avalanche next year. We know it, you know it, he knows it. It's not working, for a variety of reasons. Many of those reasons having nothing to do with Sacco, but the sad truth is that the easiest way to change a floundering team is to change the coach.

The only real question is when. Does that move happen now, in an attempt to salvage this sinking season? Or does the guy signing checks clutch his mammoth billfold a little tighter, refusing to pay TWO coaches for one season? *gasp* I suspect it's the former; in fact I think that move could happen as early as Monday.

So, when Joe Sacco is replaced as coach, I, on behalf of all Avalanche fans of the realm, would make a humble - but important - request. Please, please, please, please, please, PLEASE put an end to this archaic practice of only looking at candidates from within the organization. Marc Crawford left in 1998. Since then, all the coaches have come from - or had ties to - the organization. Bob Hartley and Joe Sacco were promoted from the AHL's affiliate teams. Tony Granato and Joel Quenneville were both Avalanche assistants at some point before getting the head coach gig. In all cases, if coaches outside the organization were even considered, that secret was well-kept. Hartley, of course, worked out pretty well (pretty well = Stanley Cup). The rest? None have been able to get the Avalanche past the 2nd round of the playoffs. Lately, even getting to the postseason has been a chore; the Avs are on track to miss the playoffs for the 4th time in the last 6 years.

I get it. We are family, get up everybody and sing. It's good business to promote from within. It rewards people for their growth, it puts known people you are comfortable with in key positions and the folks you are promoting are familiar with the system. Great...except that "system" is broken. Sometimes, the best candidate is a candidate you don't know. Believe it or not, there are good coaches who have NEVER coached for the Avalanche or one of their affiliates. It's true. Check one out. Please. I (and the other Avalanche fans I am representing) have no issue with internal candidates getting a look, be it David Oliver, Sylvain Lefebvre or that Joe Sakic fella down the hall. Heck, filrt with Patrick Roy again if that's what you want to do (this time, though, please wait until you've actually gotten rid of the old coach first). But if you are not looking at outside candidates...well, you are doing the organization, the team and your loyal-but-starting-to-grumble fanbase an extreme disservice. And you don't want a bunch of plebs banging on the castle doors with pitchforks. Trust me on that one.

This request...nay, this plea applies to GM Greg Sherman as well. At some point, he'll be moving on too. Some might say he should be leaving before Sacco, but that's not important right now. What is important, again, is that the best candidate to replace him may not be Sakic or Eric Lacroix (honestly, we're not sure which of the two is earmarked for the job, but we think it's a safe bet that it's one of the two). Do a real search. Look at some new blood. Think outside the box. Please.

The Avalanche are in desperate need of a shake up. They'll get one, sooner or later. But will it be enough? Replacing a coach is a bold move. For the Avs, replacing a coach with an outsider is an even bolder move and that's exactly what this team needs and needs today. Anything less, and there might be a revolt by the fanbase. Might want to get those pitchforks ready, fellow plebs.

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