Avs Shake Up Front Office; Josh Kroenke Succeeds Lacroix As President, Sakic Promoted
The Avalanche on Friday announced Governor Josh Kroenke "has succeeded Pierre Lacroix as team president," and Greg Sherman "no longer will be listed as an executive vice president but retains the title of general manager, albeit with diminished authority," according to Adrian Dater of the DENVER POST. In addition, the Avalanche named Hockey HOFer and former team captain Joe Sakic Exec VP/Hockey Operations, a "job title that will give him final say on all player personnel decisions." Kroenke becomes the "only executive in pro sports to have the title of president for two teams, adding to his duties with" the Nuggets. Kroenke "disputed the longtime criticism from fans that neither he nor his father cared as much about the Avs as their other properties, and said he hopes to have more of an 'outreach' with Avalanche fans." Although Sherman retains the GM title, he "will not have the final say anymore on things such as trades and other hockey personnel decisions." Sakic said that he will "immediately devote most of his attention to finding a successor for" fired coach Joe Sacco (DENVER POST, 5/11). The AP's Pat Graham noted Kroenke is viewed by many "as primarily a basketball guy." The Avalanche "languished in Kroenke's three seasons as the team's governor." By promoting Sakic, the Avs are "borrowing a page from the Denver Broncos, who brought in Hall of Famer John Elway to take over as executive vice president and help revive the team." It is a "model that Kroenke has carefully monitored." Kroenke, asked if hockey will now be on the same footing as basketball, said, "We're committed to all of our teams equally" (AP, 5/10). In Denver, Mark Kiszla wrote Sakic "fully understands there now will be pressure on him to produce victories." He would "not have taken on the task unless he believed Kroenke loved the idea of the Avalance winning" the Stanley Cup (DENVER POST, 5/11).
THE END OF AN ERA: The DENVER POST's Dater noted Lacroix retains the "somewhat nebulous title of 'adviser,'" but Friday's events made it clear he "has no real power anymore with the Avs, which is as much of a culture shock as it gets for this team." The Lacroix name was "synonymous with Avalanche hockey, almost as much as the 'A' logo with the swirling soft-serve ice cream on the front." The Lacroix reign was "famous for many great things, including two Stanley Cups and an NHL-record nine consecutive division championships." But the last few years "have made it clear: Something had to change." The Avs always have been "a media-shy team that never believed much in the marketing of individual players." They got "away with that when winning multiple division titles and the occasional Stanley Cup." But when times "got worse, the team became even more encrusted in media indifference and paranoia." Dater: "Fair or not, the Avs under Lacroix became stereotyped for defensiveness and a tone-deaf demeanor, a hear-no-evil, see-no-evil persona that became something of a self-parody after a while" (DENVER POST, 5/12).