Colorado Avalanche: Changing the Culture An Absolute Must

Joe Sacco

Joe Sacco (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

The Colorado Avalanche have to be the most mystifying team in the NHL. After a few stretches of games where there was some very strong efforts, including a route of the Chicago Blackhawks, the Avalanche have now laid three eggs in a row.

Shut out at home by the Edmonton Oilers, beat down in Minnesota, and then embarrassed on home ice by the some Wild team. Quite simply, this team is lost and simply has no idea how to right themselves.

Even if you ask the team, as Avalanche beat writer, Adrian Dater, did and they can’t even tell you. It seems that the only thing this team is able to do consistently is beat themselves, and if you can’t figure out what is causing that, then things need to change.

Joe Sacco

Joe Sacco has to go. Period, bottom line, exclamation point and any other type of punctuation that gives more emphasis. His period behind the bend of the Colorado Avalanche has been nothing but inconsistencies, frustration and player mismanagement. Since Sacco has taken the helm, you never know what team you’re going to see from period to period.

The way he manages his bench is just as inconsistent as the team. If  player finds himself in “The Joe Sacco Doghouse” that player gets demoted on lines, benched for period, or is a healthy scratch for stretches of games. At the same time, he falls in love with certain players and plays them night in and night out regardless of how poor he has played. Simply put, Joe Sacco just seems to have no idea how to manage a line up.

Then there is his record against his own division. Since Joe Sacco took over, and this is including up to this date, the Avalanche are 29-48-6. This is a 38.55% win percentage against teams in Colorado’s division. He simply doesn’t know how to win against the teams that he sees more often than other teams all year.  It is also the worst divisional winning percentage of any coach in Colorado history. It is beyond time to fire Joe Sacco.

Pierre Lacroix

Ryan O'Reilly stats

Ryan O’Reilly (Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE)

The man who was an absolute mastermind at crafting teams that could win Stanley Cup champions during his time as GM of the Avalanche now has a reputation for being an absurd negotiator. Truthfully, those negotiating tactics have gone back even into the successful days of the Avalanche, but they were just ignored because the team was winning.

While Lacroix isn’t “officially” involved in personnel operations, his presence is still very much around and was seen in the terribly botched contract negotiations with Ryan O’Reilly.

The whole front office has not managed to maintain any type of consistency since the salary cap was put into place. It seems that they don’t believe that they can pursue any big names any more for fear of having to pay too much. The team has gone on the cheap exclusively since not seeing success with the big signings of Ryan Smith and Scott Hannan. They have had some success without the marquee players, this year’s examples being P.A. Parenteau and John Mitchell. At the same time, they haven’t been able, or maybe haven’t even tried, to obtain one of those game changing players that they used to get every single year.

Lacroix’s presence is now more of a liability than benefit because he believes this team is still at the same level it was when they were winning Stanley Cups. That’s just not true, the Avalanche are no longer an elite organization.

Greg Sherman

Matt Duchene Avalanche

Matt Duchene (Icon SMI)

Of all the guys that might deserve to stay, Sherman might have the best case. After all, the signings of Parenteau and Mitchell go on his resume. Trading for Varlamov, McGinn and Downie. Drafting Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog. All of these things helped make the Avalanche a better team.

Still, Sherman seems to be little more than a puppet for Pierre Lacroix. A guy who will blindly carry out the bidding of the boss regardless of how foolish it is. The Ryan O’Reilly situation is another perfect example. Any general manager worth their salt would never have let things get there. If you come out and say that it is your top priority to re-sign a guy, you make it happen. You don’t let it draw out into this insane high school-like display.

Everybody in that front office needs to be cleaned out, except Joe Sakic. If anything, Josh Kroenke needs to relinquish any of his decision making power to Sakic so that somebody who actually understands and has a passion for the game can be the one in charge of the purse strings.

Clean House

The culture in the Pepsi Center has changed. It is no longer one that people look at as the cream of the crop, this is one that is now a laughing stock throughout the NHL. If the Colorado Avalanche want to return to this elite level, they need to change as an organization. This is not the 1990s anymore, and the Avalanche clearly do not know how to run their organization in the 21st century.

It’s time to clean house. From Joe Sacco all the way to the top.


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