Joe Sakic, Josh Kroenke take on bigger roles with the Avs

Ryan Boulding, http://www.hockeyontherocks.com

The shake up of the Colorado Avalanche culminated today in a full changing of the guard. The major message coming out of the front office? Winning culture, passion, commitment.

Eric and Pierre Lacroix are out. Joe Sakic and Josh Kroenke are in. Greg Sherman stays put.

That's the tl;dr version. The thirty-minute press conference hosted by the Avalanche gave a lot more insight into what has just happened in Colorado. Sakic is taking over as Executive VP of Hockey Operations for the Avalanche and will be the final decision-maker in all hockey ops areas. He said that they will discuss ideas and game plans as a group, but ultimately Joe has the deciding vote. Josh will have close contact with both Sakic and Sherman, having daily conversations about the direction of the team, moves to make, and progress towards the goal of bringing another Stanley Cup Championship home.

"We want to win," Sakic said. "We want to compete." He recognized the past couple of years have been bad for the Avalanche and attributed those struggles to youth and inconsistency. Now that the players are maturing, he wants to instill a winning culture in the locker room and an ability to withstand the ups and downs of a hockey season. Sakic also realizes that he has a big challenge ahead of him. Although he felt it was an easy decision taking on this new position, the demands of what he's facing are huge. "There's pressure coming with this title. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Josh faced point-blank questions about his commitment to the team when compared with his interest in the Denver Nuggets. He's well aware of people's impressions of him. He assured fans that he and his father are "committed to all teams" and that any suggestions to the contrary are "not remotely true." When asked about what he can bring to the organization, he said passion and good people management skills. There's no doubt he's going to play a much more active and present role than did P. Lacroix. He also admitted (with a chuckle) that he has no problem stealing the best practices of other teams within the NHL, as well as teams from other leagues.

Sherman retains the confidence of both Josh and Joe. "We considered all options," Josh said. "Some guys have passionate feelings about the youth and direction of this team, and we wanted to give them a chance to continue." He went on to say, "Greg has a right to be there alongside (us) based on the job he's done so far." His major role will be "contract negotiations and . . . the Avalanche’s contact with the league office and its member teams.”

The coaching issue was one that ignited comments from both Josh and Joe. They said that the selection was going to happen sooner rather than later and definitely before the draft. Although the candidates were not discussed, the qualities for which they're looking were a passionate person committed to a change in culture and someone who is good with youth and able to lead them.

In regards to salary spending, there wasn't much new. "We've had conversations about the team's direction as a whole," said Josh. "We won't spend just to spend. I think (increases in payroll come) as players mature." They are going to let the young guys develop and add pieces as necessary. In other words, don't expect any big free agent signings any time soon. Part of that has to be due to the unanimous feelings of Joe, Josh, and Greg that the team is "not near as far off as some people like to believe." (Josh)

Sherman said that conversations about the roles of each man will start today. One thing from the past they do want to continue, though, is the legacy of winning that Pierre started all those years ago. "He's helped lay the foundation for us," Josh said. "He's played a major role in our lives thus far."

Josh ended the conference by stating the thing that he and the others must do to assure the fans that things will change: "Win." He feels "supremely confident and excited" to see what Joe and Greg can do. He's also looking forward to interacting with the fans more. There are new rules in the NHL right now according to Josh. And he plans to embrace them.

More details from the Avalanche Website.

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