A man once famous for providing almost nothing quotable for 2 decades as a player, Joe Sakic has become an instant source for headlines across the hockey world in his first 2 months as Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations for Colorado Avalanche.
It's common knowledge - no, it's the stuff of legend, as well as a long running joke - that as a player, Joe Sakic went well out of his way to offer up very little to the ravenous appetites of journalists in terms of headlines, quotes, or controversy. His skill for bland speech almost rivaled his super star abilities on the ice, leading to the nickname "Quoteless Joe" among the media.
All of that has quickly changed in the days since Sakic was named Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations on May 10. Sakic spurred headlines across the globe with his straightforward and seemingly transparent revelation of the Avalanche's plans to take a forward, likely Nathan Mackinnon, with the Number 1 pick in the upcoming draft this weekend. Pundits had the Avs pegged to take Seth Jones, the #1 ranked prospect who got into hockey based off of Sakic's personal recommendation to Jones' father, former Denver Nugget Popeye Jones years ago. In an era where NHL teams have been ridiculously secretive about whom they may select with the #1 pick -even when it was painfully obvious who the undisputed #1 pick would be - Sakic's transparency is all the more noteworthy and shocking in a deep draft where there are potentially 4 prospects worthy of being taken first overrall.
So is this suddenly quotable Joe a new man, a smokescreen to garner interest in a trade for the Avs #1 pick, fan outreach, or simply the same no-nonsense straight shooter that captained the Avalanche to two Stanley Cup titles? I'm not in a position to have a qualified verdict, but that doesn't stop us being good little bloggers and exploring partially informed / totally subjective opinions. Let's look at what we know:
- After retiring, Joe Sakic didn't jump right into management. He took his sweet time, started in the margins of management, worked his way to an official capacity, studied under the legendary Pierre Lacroix and others, then after years finally took on a mantle of responsibility and is the now the man on the throne. This hints that Joe is cautious, analytical, and thinks before doing anything. So it's doubtful that Joe's loose tongue is a rookie Vice President mistake.
- New coach Patrick Roy hasn't been shy either in terms of speaking out about how the Avalanche are proceeding and planning for their future.
- The aforementioned Lacroix was notoriously tight-lipped and worked behind closed doors, sometimes from an underground bunker 18 miles below the Earth's crust, and at other times from a remote low orbit stealth aircraft hovering somewhere above greater Quebec City. Now that Josh Kroenke has taken over maybe that veil of secrecy has parted a bit and Joe and Roy's candid comments are simply the results of new leadership and management style.
- The Avs attendance has deteriorated as the on-ice product has as well. By hiring Joe, and subsequently Roy and Foote, the Avs have turned the spotlight back to Denver and created an air of change and hope. Josh Kroenke's reign seems to honestly suggest the Avs want to win. They're not hiding from headlines, their making them. They are taking them by storm and dictating the conversation. All of a sudden, the Colorado Avalanche are back in a position of power.
- By stating that the Avs want to take a forward and then Roy going so far as stating the order in which they'd take one of the top three forwards (Mackinnon, Drouin, Barkov if anyone is interested), maybe the Avs are baiting other clubs for an outlandish trade. Remember the Eric Lindros debacle? Yeah, that worked out well for the Avs. Why not see if somebody is willing to trade the world for that #1 pick. If your goal is to do what is best for your organization, it'd be foolish not to try to see if you could work a killer deal. Some people may have viewed this outspoken maneuver by Sakic as a mistake made by a green manager, but perhaps it's actually a shrewd and calculated move by a savvy and enterprising hockey legend focused on getting back to the top of the mountain. Both Joe and Roy are winners. I have to believe that is their primary focus. It's what they know.
- My friend thinks this is a move by the Avs to regain the trust of their fans by being transparent and explaining their decision making process. Think about it, are you sitting in your parent's basement playing Settlers of Catan by yourself, scratching your head as to why the Avs did this or traded that? No, you're not, because the Avs have explained very clearly what they're doing and why. Does this mean we should now trust in them blindly? No, but it does go a long way to repair the relationship between fans and the organization - something that suggests the holy trinity of Sakic/Roy/Kroenke may be more informed than their short tenure would imply.
It's probably a combination of the new regime and Joe's nature, but whatever the reason for Joe shrugging off his former "Quoteless" moniker, one thing is apparent moving forward and that is that we should plan on getting used to hearing and reading a lot more from the Avs new decision makers.