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A Fine Mess

A little over a month ago, a day after the worst season in Avalanche history came to a merciful end, Pierre Lacroix took action. He fired Francois Giguere and handed the GM baton to...himself, ostensibly on a temporary basis. He let everyone know that he would be fixing things, tout de suite.

"The immediate future of this franchise is my primary concern, so it was important to act now and start the process of restoring this franchise to where it belongs," Lacroix said.

My question: where exactly do you think this franchise belongs, Pierre? So far, it's been a disaster. Disaster is too strong of a word, but Lacroix had a chance to clearly and definitively start this franchise back on track. He failed.

What Lacroix should have done was fire Giguere AND Tony Granato on that day, then begin an intensive search for a GM who would then hire a new coach. That would have sent the clear message to the team - and the dwindling fan base - that the once-mighty franchise was going to return to its winning ways. Instead, Lacroix inexplicably left Granato in place (coaches who can finish 13-games under .500 don't just grow on tree, you know). The GM search has been a closed-door farce; the most likely candidate at one point was reportedly his own, likely-unqualified son. While the Eric Lacroix rumors have thankfully subsided, not one candidate from outside the organization has been identified. Zip. Internal candidates Craig Billington and Michel Goulet would seem to be the front-runners for the job and both seem to be fine options. But, can a franchise that has missed the playoffs twice in the last three years and hasn't won a 2nd-round playoff game in 5 years afford to ignore some of the excellent candidates on the market right now? The correct answer is no. The Avalanche answer is "no comment" (translation: we're doing just fine on our own, you losers). Making another promotion from within doesn't sound like restoring a franchise; it sounds like maintaining the status quo.

Sadly, the GM "search" isn't even the biggest failure to date. That award goes to the Patrick Roy mess. Here's what we know: not long ago, Roy came to Denver and met with Lacroix. That ends the factual part of our story. He may or may not have been offered the coaching position or, perhaps, a coaching / GM position (which seems just ludicrous enough to be plausible). Roy, for his part, says he wasn't offered the job. The Avalanche say...haha, they don't say anything, silly. You'd think something as crazy as making an offer to a coach when, you know, you already have a coach is something the team would want to vehemently deny. Nope. No comment - the official Avalanche credo.

Personally, I like the idea of Patrick Roy behind the bench (not as a GM, though, that's way too frightful to even ponder). Roy is a fiery guy who wants to win, has shown he can win, and, of course, is a beloved figure in Denver. Hiring Roy could go a long way to restoring faith in this franchise and, frankly, it would sell some tickets - something this team needs to do badly. Unfortunately, the way they've gone about it is simply wrong. It's been speculated that Tony Granato will be reassigned (again) within the club if Roy takes the job. Swell. And he if doesn't (and the longer this drags, the more likely that becomes)? We have a lame duck coach. Terrific! If Roy doesn't take the job (or if the rumors were wrong), it screws up the team substantially. None of this would have happened if Lacroix had made the correct move and terminated (or reassigned) Granato on April 13th. Why he didn't, we'll surely never know. (No comment). A month into it, and Lacroix hasn't restored anything - he's sunk the team into a quagmire of a PR mess. If Roy ultimately is hired, the haze of all the rumors floating around recently will detract from the positive goodwill is could have generated if done correctly. If he isn't hired, things will be much, much worse.

One other thing Lacroix said when he fired Giguere: "Ownership and the dedicated Avalanche fans throughout the region deserve better results."

At least he got one thing right.