CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Joe Sakic had one goal in mind when he accepted the position as Colorado Avalanche executive vice president of hockey operations in May: Bring the franchise back to the elite status it had when he twice won the Stanley Cup as captain.
The Avalanche have a long way to go, but they took a major step this season against all odds by winning the Central Division and gaining a place in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in four years. The Avalanche open the Western Conference First Round on Thursday at Pepsi Center against the Minnesota Wild (9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, RDS, TSN, FS-N, ALT).
"There's no better playoffs than hockey playoffs, and it's great to be back in it," Sakic said Wednesday at the Avalanche's practice facility. "I'm excited for the players and obviously the organization and the fans here in Denver. I'm very proud of this group, what they've accomplished this year, but I also know that this is a group that wants more.
"The regular season's over and there's no better time than to be a fan of hockey and a player in hockey and in management in hockey than this time of year. We all shoot for the Stanley Cup. Every single player and every single team is hoping to be playing for two more months."