Just a few hours after falling to the Minnesota Wild in the season finale, the Colorado Avalanche announced that head coach Joe Sacco would not be back next season (via the team's official Twitter feed).
The move was well-warranted after a disappointing season that resulted in Colorado finishing with the second-fewest points in the National Hockey League; just three more than the Florida Panthers.
Sacco’s Avalanche only made the postseason once during his four-year reign over the team, coming back and achieving the task in the 2009-10 season, his first at the helm. Since, Colorado has finished fourth, third and fifth in the Northwest Division, respectfully.
Despite this season being shortened due to the lockout, the Avalanche still finished with a .406 point percentage, the lowest since coming to Colorado and the sixth-fewest in franchise history.
Matt Duchene and newcomer P.A. Parenteau finished the year tied for the team lead in points with 43 apiece, which was tied for the 25th most in the NHL.
Because of Colorado’s second-to-last place finish this season and the new NHL draft lottery, the Avalanche will have a great shot at landing the No. 1 overall pick, which is expected to be Seth Jones. Colorado cannot drop past the third pick, which will most likely mean drafting a franchise player come June.
As of now, the Avalanche has yet to name a replacement for Sacco, who went 130-134-30 in his career with the team. Among those who could become strong candidates for the position is Dean Chynoweth, according to Renaud Lavoie of RDS.
Chynoweth coached the Lake Erie Monsters to a 35-31-3 record this season in the AHL but missed the Calder Cup playoffs by nine points. Chynoweth has, however, worked with many of the young players on the Avalanche as well as some of the top talent expected to make a difference in the future.
Many fans may want former players such as Joe Sakic to become the next head coach, but that seems unlikely. Adrian Dater of the Denver Post reports that Sakic “will NOT be the next coach.”
Dater also reported that Eric Lacroix, the team’s vice president of hockey operations, decided to leave on his own. President Pierre Lacroix and general manager Greg Sherman are still with Colorado, according to Dater. Whether that will stay the same throughout the upcoming offseason remains to be seen.
For now, though, the current search is for Colorado’s next head coach.