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Sakic's goal: Restore Avalanche to NHL's elite

by Rick Sadowski /

DENVER -- It has been a dozen years since the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup and four years since the team even qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, something that was once taken for granted.

Joe Sakic wants to change that, bring the franchise back to the elite status it enjoyed when he served as team captain.

"That's really why I'm here," Sakic, who was named executive vice president of hockey operations in May, said before Wednesday's regular-season opener against the Anaheim Ducks at the Pepsi Center.

"I took the challenge, not because I needed to, but I wanted to," added Sakic, who retired after the 2008-09 season. "Living here since 1995-96, the experiences as a player, the success, to see where it went, we want to bring that back. We want to bring that excitement back to where it was. It's not us who's going to do it, it's the players that are going to do it. It's their team."

Sakic never envisioned taking on his current role when he was playing and setting virtually every franchise scoring record during a 20-season NHL career in which he scored 625 goals and finished with 1,641 points.

He spent the past two seasons learning as much as he could about the business side of hockey as executive adviser and alternate governor.

"For two years I got to learn a little bit," he said. "I felt this was the perfect opportunity for me. I met with [team president] Josh [Kroenke] and I felt the commitment from the ownership was there. They want to win as bad as I do. So they gave me the challenge of trying to rebuild, and my first task was to get the coach. Patrick [Roy] being who he is, I know what he was like as a player. I know how much he wants to turn this franchise around and I thought he was the perfect fit for us."

Sakic isn't expecting miracles this season, not after the Avalanche went 16-25-7 in 2012-13, the second-worst record in the League.

"We know that not a lot of people are predicting us to be in the playoffs," he said. "It's our hope to surprise a lot of people. We have a lot of excitement. More importantly, it's a sequence -- growth and consistency, that's the biggest thing. To achieve the playoffs, you need the first steps. That's for us to be a lot more consistent and game management and learn how to win.

"The consistency over the past few years hasn't been there. It hasn't been nearly what it has to be. We expect that to be the case now and I know there's more excitement with what we're doing here and we just want to build on that."

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