Earlier this month, the Colorado Avalanche promoted Hall of Famer Joe Sakic to Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, a job that gives him a lot more responsibility and a few huge decisions to make very quickly. This summer will see Sakic hire a new head coach, an assistant coach, a goalie coach and manage the team’s selections at the 2013 NHL Draft. There will no doubt be those that second-guess the moves he makes and question his qualifications for the job, but if Sakic can survive this summer and put a better team on the ice next season he has a great chance to prove his critics wrong.
The Avalanche will pick first in the draft this summer, and will likely take defenseman Seth Jones with the top pick. The team needs an upgrade on defense, and Jones is the consensus best player available. If Sakic takes someone else, there’s likely to be a lot of backlash especially when Jones’ history with Denver is taken into consideration.
Hopefully Sakic has a coach in place before the draft, but that’s certainly a decision he doesn’t need to rush. Patrick Roy’s name has come up a lot in discussions, and that makes thing even tougher on Sakic. The Avalanche don’t have a great track record with former players as rookie head coaches, and hiring a former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer may not look great considering Sakic still has his own doubters. With many veteran options available, Sakic so far is doing the right thing by taking his time in making that decision. The Avalanche also need an assistant coach and a goalie coach, as the latter position was recently vacated by Kirk McLean. Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Semyon Varlamov are both due for bounce-back seasons, and a coach that can aid that process would be a big early win for Sakic. The new job comes with a lot of pressure and some early big decisions, but Sakic has a chance to add to his legacy with the team if he proves successful.