Joe Sacco has to be let go. This is not a rash decision based on recent events as it usually is when someone calls for a coach to be fired. The fact of the matter is that he is not the coach who can take the Avalanche to the next step. The team cannot win divisional games, the line juggling has been ridiculous all year, and a source within the dressing room has told me the entire team hates him.
Although this team may be on the bubble and might even make the playoffs, that is not good enough for the talent and skills available. This team should be a solid fifth or sixth place in the West, but right now they are a bubble team.
The inability to win in the division is a big reason why. They are 16-21-2 versus the West, and an atrocious 2-10-0 in a division that is arguably the worst in hockey. If they improved to .500 against their division, they would have an extra eight points, be in seventh place and have as many points as the third place Sharks, with 60.
Matt Duchene, T.J. Galiardi, and the entire defense group have been bounced all over the place and been mishandled since day one. Kyle Quincey wasn't added to the lineup after his injury, despite the fact he is obviously better than Matt Hunwick. He has arguably been the team's best defender all year. Sacco didn't want to risk ending the win streak, but it doesn't take rocket science to know if it were to end when Quincey was reinserted it would not be solely because of him.
Matt Duchene has played on every line and played both center and wing. Why would such a talented player ever be on the fourth line? Sacco plays him in one spot then moves him around after one game as it didn't work because he wasn't there long enough to create any chemistry.
T.J. Galiardi has been in Sacco's doghouse over the last two years, despite excellent play when put in the top two lines where he belongs. Sacco's utilization of the player cost him a reasonable contract this year, causing him to take a pay cut less than he is worth. I personally would rather pay him more, use him better, and not risk him wanting to leave as soon as he can to be a star somewhere else.
Sacco had one okay year. One horrible year, and it is looking like another okay year. This team is not expected to compete for the Cup this year, and this is unacceptable. The Avalanche are a team that once won nine straight division titles. During this time, they lived by the "anything less than the Stanley Cup is a failure" policy, and it is about time that attitude comes back. Randy Carlyle is available and Patrick Roy said he would listen if the Avs' call, so it will be interesting to see what happens there.
This team continues to lose fans and coverage. If they have any intention of getting them back it will be by not considering ninth place acceptable. Fire the coach and start the second half of a so far successful rebuild on the right foot.
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