On Saturday, the Avalanche closed out another disaster of a season, finishing with the 2nd worst record in the NHL. On Sunday, the predicted house-cleaning took place as the Avalanche parted ways with everyone in the front office responsible for the on-ice abomination that has become all-too familiar to Denver fans. Oops, I think I might have been misinformed. After studying the
in-depth 82-word press release, it appears that only coach Joe Sacco has lost his job. Additionally, VP of Hockey Operations and rumored-GM-in-waiting Eric Lacroix will also be leaving, apparently of his own accord (wink win, nod nod). Consider me completely underwhelmed.
As a sports blogger, I always find discussing potential firings to be a little difficult. As a working stiff and a family man I am acutely aware that these are people's jobs and livelihoods that we are talking about so casually here. I know that it comes with the territory for these folks, but it still is hard for me to "root" for the Granatos and Saccos and Gigueres of this world to lose their job. However, it is a subject that, although unsavory, is unavoidable.
With that in mind, I have to ask just a few simple words of the Avalanche brass: What. The. Fuck?
It's been 3 years since the Avalanche have made the playoffs, 10 years since the Avs have won a division and 11 years since they've advanced past the 2nd round of the playoffs. They sold out 3 games this year. So, clearly this is a franchise heading in the right direction. Changing the coach - and ONLY changing the coach - is just what this franchise needs. After all, in 2008 the Avalanche parted ways with Joel Quenneville after a "disappointing" 44-win-season and second-round playoff exit. They kept the rest of the front office in place - GM Francois Giguere included - and new coach Tony Granato improved the team by...uh, negative 12 wins. Hmm, maybe the answer is a bit deeper than a coaching change?
Four years ago, Avalanche President Pierre Lacroix cleaned house. He fired his GM (Giguere) just days after the season ended and promised to "start the process of restoring this franchise to where it belongs". After a failed flirtation with Patrick Roy, Lacroix completely reorganized the front office and coaching staff that summer. Since then, some names and titles have changed, but, inexplicably, the cracked foundations of the franchise remain today. The Avs will have a new coach next year and maybe a new GM too...but it sure looks like it's time for more. It is time for wholesale changes at the top level. Four years ago, I called the Avs' front office situation A Fine Mess. The only thing that's changed since then is the calendar. We're all four years older and the Avalanche are no closer to respectability.
Pierre Lacroix has done a lot for the franchise in his 18 years of service. Joining the Nordiques a couple of years after the Eric Lindros windfall, Lacroix molded a talented young team into a two-time Cup winner, orchestrating big trades for Patrick Roy, Ray Bourque and Rob Blake. However, recent history has been less kind to Lacroix and the Avalanche. Since stepping aside as GM in 2006 and becoming the team President, the Avalanche have employed two GMs, three coaches (and counting) and have turned over every player and pick in the organization with the exception of Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny (for now). During Lacroix's tenure as Avalanche President, only 6 teams have a worse record.
|Detroit Red Wings||540||318||154||68||704||1668||1402|
|San Jose Sharks||540||320||157||63||703||1601||1350|
|New Jersey Devils||540||299||193||48||646||1402||1345|
|New York Rangers||540||286||195||59||631||1476||1348|
|St. Louis Blues||540||264||206||70||598||1456||1461|
|Los Angeles Kings||540||252||221||67||571||1452||1497|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||540||238||227||75||551||1547||1737|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||540||235||238||67||537||1533||1738|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||540||227||242||71||525||1373||1595|
|New York Islanders||540||223||245||72||518||1436||1684|
*stats don't include last night's Sens / Bruins game.
The Avalanche have a problem, and it isn't their coach and it isn't their GM. The problem runs deeper than that. Or, maybe I should say, higher. It is, sad to say, time for new blood at the top. The Avalanche don't need to clean house this summer. They need to tear it down and completely rebuild it. It's time to clean up the mess once and for all. Thank you for the Cups, Pierre, but now it's time to go.