Avalanche name Sacco as new head coach Staff

6/4/2009 4:00:05 PM

New Colorado Avalanche general manager Greg Sherman wasted no time in hiring a head coach.

The club announced the hiring of former player Joe Sacco, who will take over for previous head coach Tony Granato who was fired on Wednesday.

"The American Hockey League has proven to be a valuable training ground for NHL head coaches and we're confident that Joe's experience at that level will be vital to his success with our organization at the NHL level," Sherman said.  "Our franchise has gone that route very successfully in the past."

Sacco had spent the last two seasons as a coach for the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.  Last season, the Monsters won 34 games and finished out of the playoffs with 76 points.

"I'm very honored and grateful to the Avalanche organization for giving me this opportunity," Sacco said. "This organization has provided me with all the necessary tools and support to be successful and grow as a coach. I'm confident in my abilities and believe the experience I've gained will help me succeed in this new challenge."

The 40-year old Sacco played for parts of 13 seasons in the NHL for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, New York Islanders, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers.  He recorded 94 goals and 119 assists in 738 games.
The club will also reportedly announce that former defenceman Sylvain Lefebvre, who won a cup with the Avalanche in 1996 will serve as an assistant coach, like he has under Sacco in Lake Erie.

"These two coaches have been at the frontlines of this organization's development efforts over the last few seasons," said Sherman. "Joe and Sylvain are familiar with our personnel, especially our young players within the system, and each played a role in implementing the organization's vision with these players."

The Avalanche struggled last season, finishing in last-place in the Western Conference.  They've missed the playoffs in two of the last three years.

Colorado does not have either of their goaltenders from 2008-09, Peter Budaj or Andrew Raycroft signed, and they are still waiting to hear if future Hall of Famer Joe Sakic will return for a 21st season.

Sacco is the franchise's 13th head coach.