The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today the appointment of Joe Sacco as the club’s new head coach. Former Avalanche player Sylvain Lefebvre was named assistant coach.
“The American Hockey League has proven to be a valuable training ground for NHL head coaches and we’re confident that Joe’s experience at that level will be vital to his success with our organization at the NHL level,” said Avalanche General Manager Greg Sherman. “Our franchise has gone that route very successfully in the past.”
“I’m very honored and grateful to the Avalanche organization for giving me this opportunity,” said Sacco, who will become the franchise’s 13th head coach. “This organization has provided me with all the necessary tools and support to be successful and grow as a coach. I’m confident in my abilities and believe the experience I’ve gained will help me succeed in this new challenge.”
Sacco, 40, moves into the Avalanche head coach position after four seasons with the organization serving both as assistant coach (Lowell 2005-06; Albany 2006-07) and head coach (Lake Erie 2007-08, 2008-09) with the club’s American Hockey League affiliates.
Under Sacco’s guidance, the 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. Following the season, Sacco was tabbed as an assistant coach for Team USA at the 2009 IIHF Men’s World Championship in Switzerland.
Lefebvre, 41, will begin his third season with the organization in a coaching capacity. He’s served under Sacco as an assistant coach in Lake Erie the last two seasons. Lefebvre is a veteran of 945 NHL contests spanning 14 seasons with Montreal, Toronto, Quebec, Colorado and the New York Rangers. He was part of the Avalanche’s first Stanley Cup Championship team in 1996.
“These two coaches have been at the frontlines of this organization’s development efforts over the last few seasons,” said Sherman. “Joe and Sylvain are familiar with our personnel, especially our young players within the system, and each played a role in implementing the organization’s vision with these players.”
Sacco, a native of Medford, Mass., played his college hockey at Boston University where he appeared in 111 games over three seasons with the Terriers. He was a fourth-round draft pick (71st overall) by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. He would go on to play in 738 total games over a 13-year NHL career, which included stints with Toronto, Anaheim, the New York Islanders, Washington and Philadelphia. The right winger finished with 94 goals and 119 assists.
Sacco also competed internationally with the United States at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, where the team finished fourth. He would go on to play for Team USA in six World Championships, winning a bronze medal in 1996.
The remainder of the Avalanche coaching staff will be announced in the near future.