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News of the Colorado Avalanche - Links around the NHL - April 29, 2013

Rick Stewart

You may have heard that Joe Sacco was fired. Adrian Dater breaks down his thoughts on the move by the Avs, as well as what's in store for Sacco's replacement, Greg Sherman and Pierre Lacroix.

I was not surprised by this firing at all, but with the Avs you never know for sure. I mean, as of last night, Sacco didn’t know. I pressed him on the phone tonight whether he knew about his dismissal earlier, but kept it quiet and just kept coaching, and he gave an emphatic no. Until this morning at 10, he still thought he would finish the day as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche.

Speaking of Lacroix, Pierre's son, Eric, also left the organization. However, this was officially of his own free will. I think it was more of the "Either you quit or we fire you" kind of parting of the ways.

The Dallas Stars did some axing of their own by firing GM Joe Nieuwendyk. Nieuwendyk's replacement is Detroit assistant GM Jim Nill.

The future of coach Glen Gulutzan wasn't addressed by the team in its statement. Dallas holds an option for a third season for Gulutzan, who is 64-57-9 in his two seasons after ending the lockout-shortened season with a 3-0 home loss to Detroit. The Stars dropped their last five games and won only once in their last seven after a five-game winning streak.

When asked about his job after Saturday night's game, Gulutzan said that wasn't under his control. He did praise Nieuwendyk.

"All I can say is that Joe's been tremendous for me. I think he's done a hell of a job," Gulutzan said. "You can see with our farm team and the young guys that we have here."

The NHL announced the playoff schedule.

The 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs will open Tuesday in Chicago with a matchup between the Presidents' Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild, who were the last team to clinch a playoff berth.

The NHL released the playoff schedule Sunday night and it includes three Game 1s on Tuesday, another three on Wednesday and two more on Thursday.

And some random tidbits about NHL notables as the season closes and the post-season opens, featuring both the good and the bad.

Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis, who will be 38 in June, became the oldest player to win the NHL scoring title. He took over the lead Wednesday from Sidney Crosby, who had held it since suffering a broken jaw on March 30. St. Louis finished with 17 goals and 60 points in 48 games, three points ahead of teammate Steven Stamkos (29 goals, 57 points). St. Louis previously won the scoring title in 2003-04. Undrafted, cut by two NHL teams, written off as too small, he's a great lesson in perseverance. Congrats also to Washington's Alexander Ovechkin for winning the goal-scoring title, with 32 in 48 games.

. . .

Vancouver Canucks Coach Alain Vigneault wanted to rest his regulars in a meaningless game against Edmonton on Saturday, which is fine. But Vigneault allowed Henrik Sedin to prolong a consecutive-games streak by playing one shift of 22 seconds in the first period and then return to the locker room. It was a cheap way to continue an honorable streak.

I know this isn't hockey-specific news, but it's a historical moment in sports. Jason Collins has become the "first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport."

I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.

. . .

No one wants to live in fear. I've always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don't sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly. It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I've endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humor, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back.