Someday soon, Tony Granato is going to entertain the crowd at a pub with the story of how Colorado Avalanche President Pierre Lacroix broke the news that he had been fired as head coach after the position had already been offered to (and rejected by) Patrick Roy.
And then everyone will buy the poor guy a shot of the stiff stuff.
The axe finally fell on Granato today, as part of a major reshuffling of the deck in Colorado. Also gone are assistant coaches Jacques Cloutier and Dave Barr, goaltending coach Jeff Hackett, assistant to the general manager Michel Goulet and video coordinator P.J. DeLuca. (Quite the fall from grace for Hackett, who was credited with resurrecting the career of Jose Theodore in Denver.)
Taking over as general manager is Greg Sherman, 39, who is (a) not Patrick Roy and (b) being promoted from the assistant general manager's position, which means the Avalanche decided not to change the course of the franchise by inserting an outsider into the power structure. Mile High Hockey notes that Craig Billington, assumed by many to be the guy who would ascend to the GM throne, is now Vice President of Hockey Operations/Assistant General Manager; and that Eric Lacroix is now director of hockey operations. Lacroix ... now where have we heard that name before ...
So it's good news/bad news for the Avs and their fans. The good news is that a lousy coach who became a farcical punchline in the last month is now put out of his misery. The bad news is that it appears the dramatic, sweeping changes that will put the franchise on the right track again have been reduced to everyone in management moving to a bigger office. (Well, save for Michel Goulet.) Hey, as long as we're keeping things in the Colorado family, Bob Hartley's still available ...
Colorado Avalanche President Pierre Lacroix announced today a new management structure for the organization, effective immediately.
Heading this new management structure is Greg Sherman, who has been named General Manager. Sherman, 39, has spent the last seven years as the team's Assistant General Manager, and has been associated with the franchise for the last 13 years.
"Greg Sherman deserves the opportunity to prove he can be an effective general manager in our business," said Lacroix. "He has shown that he possesses the necessary qualities required to be successful with this new challenge in front of him."
"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," added Lacroix.
In his previous role, Sherman worked on contract negotiations, arbitration cases, salary cap management and matters concerning personnel at all levels of the organization. In addition, Sherman also served as a liaison between the Avalanche and its American Hockey League affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters. He oversaw and coordinated all financial obligations of both clubs. Born in Scranton, Pa., Sherman was raised in Denver and has spent most of his life in Colorado.
"I look forward to the challenge," said Sherman. "We all know the task ahead and we need to get to work. There are a lot of things to be done here. I am surrounded by a group that has great knowledge of the business and we are looking towards the future with a lot of optimism. Our fans can rest assured that every effort will be taken to bring an exciting brand of hockey back to Pepsi Center."
The Avalanche today also appointed Craig Billington as Vice President of Hockey Operations/Assistant General Manager. Billington, 42, will work closely with Sherman in running the day-to-day operations of the franchise. The London, Ontario native has been a part of the Avalanche front office for the past six years, starting as the club's goaltending consultant before being named Director of Player Development. He added the title of vice president in the summer of 2008. In his previous role, the former Avalanche goaltender oversaw each of the major junior, college and minor league prospects throughout the organization.
Overseeing the Avalanche's prospects will now be David Oliver, who was named Director of Player Development. Oliver, 38, will continue to serve as general manager of Colorado's AHL affiliate, which he has done since the Monsters' inaugural season of 2007-08.
In addition, Brad Smith, the team's Director of Player Personnel, will have a more active role in personnel decisions and has the task of managing the Avalanche's depth chart. The club also announced the hiring of Eric Lacroix as Director of Hockey Operations. Lacroix, 37, spent last year as a pro scout with the Phoenix Coyotes after serving as co-owner/assistant coach for the Arizona Sundogs, who captured the 2008 Ray Miron President's Cup title as Central Hockey League champions. Prior to his three seasons with the Sundogs, the former Avalanche forward worked four years in the Avalanche's hockey operations department. Rick Pracey, Director of Amateur Scouting, will continue to oversee the team's scouting efforts as it heads into the 2009 NHL Entry Draft later this month.