"The very essence of leadership is you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet." -Theodore M. Hesburgh
"Coaches who can outline plays on a blackboard are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their players and motivate." -Vince Lombardi
"Confidence is contagious; so is lack of confidence." -Vince Lombardi
Every season professional teams are going to be afflicted by injuries, slumps, bad breaks, but the great teams persevere through hardships. Mediocre teams are defined by what happens to them over the course of the season. Great teams are defined by what they make happen over the course of a season. Great teams have a plan, a goal, a focus, and adhere to what they do well as a team. When I watch the Avalanche I see a team with no plan, no clear goals, and a murky focus at best.
To elaborate on the ideas above, consider the 2001 Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup team. The roster was loaded with talent, but also had FANTASTIC leadership. Every team starts the season with the goal of winning a Stanley Cup, but never have I seen a team truly live by that goal like those Avs. This year's Avs, less talented sure, but beyond that this organization is lost in it's ways. Call it an identity crisis if you will. After all, the Avs are in their teenage years of time in Denver. Isn't that when identity crises are bound to happen. Every phase of the organization is responsible, but I'm going to focus my attention on the man behind the bench.
The coach. Ordinary Joe. Sacco needs to follow precedence set in this organization and be a bit more super. This season, saying Joe Sacco has struggled to fill his role as an NHL head coach. As Vince Lombardi so eloquently put it, coaching isn't about X's and O's, but about inspiring and motivating your team. Frankly Sacco has seemed to struggle with both. His motivational antics are similar to those found in an elementary school classroom. Sent to Lake Erie (sent to the principle)... benching (take a time-out)...shuffling lines (play nice you're going to be separated). Seriously! Pull a new trick out of the hat. Sacco has had the midas touch for compounding problems rather than fixing them. His benchings, and shufflings, and meddlings, and goaltending changes have created uncertainty in this team. His X's and O's aren't exactly a strong point either. Other teams know what the Avs are going to do better than the Avs know what they are going to do during large chunks of every game lately. A great leader bands together individuals under a common flag, with a common goal. Sacco isolates and embarrasses his players. His doghouse is his legacy. Overall he seems to be filling the role of a babysitter rather than a leader. Granted, the Avs do have some young players, but i want my coach to be a leader, not a babysitter.
Wait... I think I have seen this look before...
The thing that is frustrating me the most with Sacco right now is the look on his face after every goal allowed. It reminds me of another 2nd year head coach of a local team. The above look, the McSacco? Leave that befuddled, I can't believe we are playing this ******* bad look on the dollar menu where it belongs? I have played my fair share of organized sports, and have had good coaches, and poor coaches. I know the aura of a good coach. I know how he carries himself, and right now Sacco doesn't fit that mold.
The Avalanche are a team without a concrete vision of what it wants to be right now. Recent trades have reshuffled the roster, and taken the team in a different direction. Confidence has come and gone within individual players over the course of the season, and at this point confidence is vacationing in a more tropical location. To me it starts with leadership, and the head coach. I am not going to say that firing Joe Sacco is the only solution. While many of these statements are harsh, I actually think that Sacco can be a good coach in this league. I enjoy listening to him in interviews and on the local radio programs. It sounds as if the plan is for him to be around next season, but he needs to improve if the Avs want to avoid a similar storyline next season. I'm not the only one who doesn't want to see that happen. Whoever the coach is, I want a great leader.
And that concludes the Yammerin from this Yeti for now...