Lacroix not willing to say Avs need to get up to speed
DENVER – Colorado Avalanche president Pierre Lacroix insists a front office makeover doesn’t necessarily mean a big refurbishing of the roster.Lacroix, who is stepping down as general manager, said his top priorities this summer are finding his successor to run the day-to-day operations of the franchise and re-signing captain Joe Sakic and defenseman Rob Blake.He takes exception, however, to the suggestion the Avs have to get younger and faster to keep up in the new NHL, a notion even his coach was touting after Colorado was swept from the playoffs by Anaheim.Among the Avs players whom the Ducks really made look their age were forward Pierre Turgeon, 36, and defenseman Patrice Brisebois, 35, Both were among Lacroix’s free agent signings last summer, before the NHL resumed play with new rules that opened up the scoring – and put a premium on youth.Lacroix said he’s never been “drastic or emotional” in making changes and wasn’t going to deviate from a cautious approach now. He said he’s drawn praise from “hockey people” for his offseason moves last year and wouldn’t change a single one of them.When pressed whether the Mighty Ducks exposed the Avs as too old school to succeed in a newfangled league that prizes fast, fresh skaters over seasoned ones, Lacroix again bristled.”Well, the best way to answer again is, it’s a game of momentum and when there are 22 teams playing golf and you’re not, if you would have asked me the question after Dallas, you would have thought that we were too fast for Dallas. So, it’s tough for me to answer,” Lacroix said.The Avs bumped the second-seeded Stars from the first round of the playoffs in five games.”When you’re down to eight teams in a span of 30 teams and you perform like we did, I don’t think you can be emotional in thinking, well, we’re too slow, because I’m saying to you seven days before we were too fast,” Lacroix said. “That’s how I look at it and that’s how our people look at it.”That’s why we have to be rational now and we have to take a good and deep breath in looking at the adjustments. I don’t think we would qualify ourselves, are we too slow or too fast. Definitely, we lost. There’s something missing.”To coach Joel Quenneville, it was obvious what that was.”Look at the teams that are leading and still alive in the playoffs, from top to bottom they have quickness,” he said after the Avs were eliminated. “They have size, they have speed, they have skill and they have youth.”With 13 players eligible for free agency July 1, that might be a blueprint the Avalanche would want to follow.”The game is now one of quickness and speed,” Quenneville said. “And hockey sense is part of that too. But there is no secret. I think we knew all year with the way the games would be that speed would be important to a team’s success. We are looking at that all the time. Our scouts are looking at that, and they know it is something we want.”In announcing he was giving up his GM title last week, Lacroix said he had a candidate in mind to replace him and would name his successor before the June 24 NHL draft in Vancouver. He said among the criteria was somebody who shared his business philosophies, including keeping a low public profile.Speculation immediately centered on Hall of Fame forward Michael Goulet, 46, who has served at Lacroix’s side since the Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver in 1995.Goulet has been in charge of player personnel and player development for the Avs and last year served as special assistant to the president. He also fits the profile of somebody who wouldn’t mind Lacroix looking over his shoulder as he grows into the job.”Am I going to be 30 days in the office in a row? Could be,” Lacroix said. “Because I know myself and I’m not retiring from the business.”Nor is he through shaping the Avs in his image.
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