The Colorado Avalanche have fired coach Joe Sacco, the team announced Sunday.
Sacco was hired June 4, 2009, to replace Tony Granato. The Avalanche made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Sacco's first season, earning the eighth seed in the Western Conference before losing to the top-seeded San Jose Sharks in the first round.
They have failed to qualify in each of the three seasons since. Colorado slumped from 95 points to 68 points in his Sacco's second season, but with the help of Calder Trophy winner Gabriel Landeskog, the Avalanche improved to 88 points in 2011-12 and remained in the playoff chase until late in the campaign.
This season began with the team's top scorer from a year ago, Ryan O'Reilly, without a contract. There was a slow start (losses in four of six) and the Avalance never climbed above .500 again. Dropping eight of nine near the end of March was the worst stretch, but Colorado never won more than two games in a row this season and finished in 29th place in the League standings for the second time in three years.
"The organization believes a change of leadership behind the bench is needed going forward," Avalanche general manager Greg Sherman said in a statement. "Joe has worked for this franchise for eight seasons and he is a dedicated and hard-working coach. We appreciate all he has done and wish him the best in the future."
The next coach of the Avalanche will be in charge of restoring a once-proud franchise. Colorado made the playoffs in each of its first 10 years after moving to Denver from Quebec City and won the Stanley Cup twice, but the Avalanche have reached the postseason twice since 2006.
Colorado will possess one of the top three picks in the 2013 NHL Draft as well a roster with several quality young players including Landeskog, O'Reilly and Matt Duchene.
Sacco finished 130-134-30 in four seasons with the Avalance. It was his first job as an NHL coach after four years in the American Hockey League, including the two prior to joining the Avalanche as coach of Colorado's AHL affiliate in Cleveland, the Lake Erie Monsters.
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