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Role Reversal For Giguere and Lacroix

by Staff Writer / Colorado Avalanche
DENVER (AP) - Exactly 12 years before he was introduced as general manager of the Colorado Avalanche, Francois Giguere served as Pierre Lacroix's chauffeur on the day he was named the franchise's GM.

In a role reversal, Lacroix drove Giguere to and from his hotel and team headquarters Wednesday. "The only difference is today my shirt's a little drier," Giguere said with a laugh.

Back in 1994, Lacroix was a high-powered player agent and Giguere was a baby-faced administrative assistant in charge of negotiating contracts for the Quebec Nordiques a year before they moved to Denver.

They had met across the table when Lacroix was representing goaltender Jocelyn Thibault, "and things got a little dicey at the end of the negotiations," Giguere recounted. "I had strict, strict directors from my owner, so Pierre wanted to ring my neck."

When the Nordiques hired Lacroix as their GM, the owner asked Giguere to drive the new GM back to his hotel.

He sweated and squirmed the whole way.

"He was a wreck," Lacroix recalled. "He thought he was fired."

Giguere figured he was expendable because he only had one year's experience negotiating deals and Lacroix had two decades' worth.

"I didn't like my chances of staying," Giguere admitted. "I was sure I was going to get fired."

Instead, Lacroix kept him on. Giguere served in many front-office roles, eventually rising to become Lacroix's apprentice before joining the Dallas Stars as assistant general manager in January 2002.

Giguere, 42, returned to the franchise he started with 16 years ago on Wednesday and will work side-by-side with Lacroix, who relinquished his GM duties on May 12 but is staying on as team president.

"It's funny," Lacroix said. "He's driving me and now I'm driving him." But who's driving the franchise? They're basically co-pilots.

Giguere said he'll report to the president and is "very comfortable with the chain of command."

Lacroix, who guided the Avalanche to two Stanley Cup titles, pledged "not to interfere with Francois' operation" and to give his new GM and executive vice-president the freedom he needs to steer the franchise through the next decade.

"If I had any intention to not be the best resource for Francois, why would I have done what I did 12 days ago?" Lacroix said.

Saying, "I want to be one ingredient in a winning formula," Giguere insisted he didn't foresee any potential pitfalls in having his predecessor looking over his shoulder.

"If I thought it was a problem, I wouldn't be here," Giguere said. "If Pierre wanted that (to remain as de facto GM), he wouldn't have had his press conference 12 days ago. I believe that he's at that stage of his career and he'd better be ready because I'm going to be picking his brain a ton and I'm going to be using him.

"He's too important of an asset for me not to use that experience."

Giguere said he rebuffed numerous overtures to interview for GM jobs in the NHL over the last several seasons because he didn't feel he was ready.

He said he was a businessman that was in hockey when he first started out. Now, he's a hockey executive with a business background "and I just have a comfort level that I did not have back then."

Giguere deemed this job the perfect fit because he can continue his apprenticeship under his mentor, whom he will emulate in dealing with other teams, the coaching staff and the league.

"I'm going to be picking his brain a lot on those areas," Giguere said. "Hopefully, that's going to accelerate my development as a general manager and it's just going to benefit the organization."

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