Elliotte Friedman reported Monday morning that Joe Sakic will be promoted to President of Hockey Operations of the Colorado Avalanche, ending his tenure as General Manager of the club. Chris MacFarland, the now-former Assistant General Manager, will get the promotion to General Manager as a result of the Sakic promotion.
The architect of the 2022 Stanley Cup Champions, Sakic has done a fantastic job navigating this hockey team to the summit of the hockey world. After being named General Manager of the Avs in September of 2014, Sakic had to pull this team out of a deep hole. The team had just had an outstanding regular season under first-time NHL Head Coach Patrick Roy, but a Game 7 defeat to the Minnesota Wild in Round 1 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs would mark the start of a frustratingly tough era of Avalanche hockey. The team would battle mediocrity through the 14-15 & 15-16 seasons, and a late departure of Patrick Roy in the summer of 2016 left Sakic with minimal time to find a replacement, until finding his guy in Jared Bednar in August of 2016; mere weeks prior to the start of Training Camp.
The Avalanche would finish an abysmal 22-56-4 in the 16-17 season, with only 48 points to show for the effort. This led to many Avs fans wanting Bednar and Sakic fired. November 5, 2017, would see Sakic make the infamous Matt Duchene trade, which marked the turning point in the Avs rebuild, acquiring the pieces that landed the team Samuel Girard and Bowen Byram, among other promising pieces still brewing in the Avs system. More importantly, the departure of Duchene paved the way for the explosion of Nathan MacKinnon, who went from a potential bust to NHL Superstar and arguably top 5 players in the NHL. Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan Mackinnon, and Mikko Rantanen quickly became the best line in the league, and Sakic would continue to build a formidable supporting cast behind the Three-Headed Monster, a building process that ultimately led the team to immortality.
Chris MacFarland was hired as Assistant GM in May of 2015 and has been Sakic’s wingman in building a championship team for the last 7 years. In recent years, MacFarland has been seen as one of the brightest prospects in the managerial world in the NHL, with teams consistently looking toward MacFarland to fill their own team’s GM vacancies. The Avalanche organization has denied other teams the opportunity to interview MacFarland at every turn, as the club has desired to keep him within the organization.
There were rumors circulating in the last couple of weeks that this move could be on the way, and now after years of keeping a “hidden executive gem” in the safe, the apprentice will get to fill the shoes of the master, as Chris MacFarland will look to expand on what Joe Sakic has built in hopes of creating the next great dynasty in the NHL.