The Boston Bruins hired Joe Sacco as an assistant coach, the team announced Thursday.
He joins Claude Julien's staff as the replacement for Geoff Ward, who was released from his contract after last season to become coach of the Mannheim Eagles in Germany.
Sacco is familiar with Boston as a native of Medford, Mass., and a former player at Boston University. He was an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres last season and spent the previous four seasons as coach of the Colorado Avalanche. They went 130-134-40 under Sacco, who was a Jack Adams Award finalist after the 2009-10 season, the only season he guided the Avalanche into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Prior to becoming coach in Colorado, Sacco spent two seasons as coach of the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL. He was an assistant in the AHL for the Lowell Lock Monsters (2004-05) and Albany River Rats (2006-07).
Sacco said he contacted Julien once he learned of Ward's departure, and Julien said he knew Sacco was the right fit for his staff after an exhaustive interview process.
"I had a number of real good interviews and at the end Joe really stood out for us because of a number of reasons," Julien said. "He's got some great experience not only as a hockey player but also as an assistant coach, whether it's in the American league or NHL, and also a head coach in both leagues. He's been a player so we all know he'll have instant respect from our players. For me it was important to get one of those coaches. I give them a lot of responsibilities and it was important to have someone I could feel comfortable and trust. Joe was that guy."
Sacco played 738 games over 13 seasons in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Ducks, New York Islanders, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers, totaling 94 goals and 213 points.
He was teammates with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara in New York (1998-99) and defenseman Dennis Seidenberg in Philadelphia (2002-03). He coached Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk in Lake Erie in 2007-08.
"The Bruins were probably the only team I had serious dialogue with," Sacco said. "There were a couple of other opportunities but they weren't as intriguing as being with the Boston organization. … I made a decision back when Buffalo was moving in a different direction that it would have to be a perfect fit and it would have to make sense for me and my family. Boston was an obvious choice."