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Avs Direction 06/03/2009

Posted by sportretort in nhl, Sports, Uncategorized.
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The axe finally fell today, ending Tony Granato’s second run as coach of the NHL’s  Colorado Avalanche.  Also removed by Avalanche President Pierre Lacroix were assistant coaches Jacques Cloutier and Dave Bahr, goal tending

Tony Granato was fired as Avalanche coach today

Tony Granato was fired as Avalanche coach today

 coach Jeff Hackett, assistant to the GM Michel Goulet and P J De Luca, video coordinator.  General Manager Francois Giguere was fired last April immediately following the worst season the Avalanche has had since the franchise moved  from Qubec to Denver following the 1994-95 season.  Lacroix had offered Granato’s job last week to former Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy, thus placing Granato in the awkward position of watching the search for his successor proceed while he still held the job.

In the 9 seasons the Avalanche played in Colorado before the NHL lockout in 2004-05, they made the playoffs every season, won 8 division championships and won 2 Stanley Cups.  They finished under 96 points only once, with 95 in the 1997-98 season.  In the 4 seasons since the lockout, the Avalanche have missed the playoffs twice, not won a division championship and never finished with 96 points or more.  After 3 straight 95 point finishes, last years team finished with 68.  What changed?  Part of the collective bargaining agreement was a salary cap.  Clearly, the Avalanche have had a hard time adjusting to the constraints of a cap.  It was time for a change.  Or was it?

Also today,  Lacroix named Greg Sherman the teams new General Manager.  Sherman has been the team’s Assistant GM for the past 7 years.  In a statement, Lacroix said  “Greg Sherman deserves the opportunity to prove he can be an effective general manager in our business.”  That may be true, but his duties as AGM included working on contract

Avalanche President Pierre Lacroix is on the hook for a 'new direction'

Avalanche President Pierre Lacroix is on the hook for a 'new direction'

 negotiations, and salary cap management.  And mismanagement of the cap is the cause of many of the Avalanche’s problems last season, and next.  14 players under contract for next year account for some $44 million in cap funds.  That leaves in the neighborhood of  $12 million to address their needs.  Captain Joe Sakic and goaltenders Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft are not under contract for next year, and may take a large slice of the available cash.  Lacroix said of Sherman that  “Surrounded by a strong hockey staff and under my supervision, he will have all the necessary support to lead the Avalanche in this new direction.”  Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Sherman at least partly responsible for the cap mess?  And wasn’t Lacroix there also?  Just exactly where is this ‘new direction’ going to come from?  Was it wise to hire from within a system that has been  unable to solve the cap puzzle?

The inescapable fact is that there are no more scape goats for Lacroix.  He has a GM of his choosing, from within his system.  He will have a new coach, all ‘under his supervision.’  He pulled off the trade that cemented 2 Cups for Colorado when he traded for Roy in 2005.  With attendance in a free fall, this once proud franchise needs him to pull another rabbit out of his hat.  If he fails, the next axe to fall will claim him.

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