Joe Sacco was named the fifth head coach in Avalanche history, and the 13th in franchise history on June 4, 2009.
Sacco was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year in his rookie season behind the bench in 2009-10. He guided the Avalanche to a 43-30-9 record (95 points), a second-place finish in the Northwest Division and a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Avs became the first Western Conference team to make the playoffs after finishing last in the conference the previous year since the league expanded to 30 teams in 2000-01. Colorado, which had only 69 points in 2008-09, posted the league’s second-best turnaround (+26) behind only Phoenix (+28).
The Avalanche was one of the youngest teams in the NHL and got more production from its rookies than any other club. Colorado made the postseason despite 352 man games lost due to injury, second most in the NHL.
Sacco’s 43 wins were the second most by a rookie head coach in franchise history, just one shy of Bob Hartley’s 44 victories in 1998-99. The Avs were 10-1-2 in their first 13 games under Sacco, which tied him for the second-best record through the first 13 games as a head coach in NHL history.
The 2010-11 campaign marks his sixth season with the organization. Prior to leading the Avalanche, Sacco spent two seasons as head coach of Colorado’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters. He also spent two years as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Lowell Lock Monsters in 2005-06 and Albany River Rats in 2006-07. Under Sacco’s guidance, the Lake Erie Monsters finished with a 34-38-3-5 record (76 points) in 2008-09, posting eight more wins and 11 more points than they did in their inaugural season of 2007-08.
Sacco has also gained coaching experience at the international level, as he has served as an assistant coach for Team USA at each of the last two IIHF World Championships (2009 and 2010).
Sacco was a fourth-round pick (71st overall) by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1987 Entry Draft. He appeared in 738 total games over his 13-year career in the National Hockey League, which included stints with Toronto, Anaheim, the New York Islanders, Washington and Philadelphia. The right winger finished with 94 goals and 119 assists for 213 points.
Born in Medford, Mass., Joe attended Boston University, where he played a total of 111 games over three years. Sacco played for the United States at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, where the Americans finished fourth. He would go on to play for Team USA in six World Championships. Joe and his wife, Tammy, have three children, Joseph (14), Matthew (11) and Christina (6).