Colorado Avalanche Rumors: Staff and Potential Goalie Changes

Dec 1, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Reto Berra (20) looks for the puck during the third period at Prudential Center. The Avalanche defeated the Devils 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 1, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Reto Berra (20) looks for the puck during the third period at Prudential Center. The Avalanche defeated the Devils 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche have made moves in their personnel and my potentially be moving one of the team’s goalies.

The Colorado Avalanche are making moves behind the scenes. As of right now, we can only speculate on how those moves might play out, if anything comes of them at all.

Staff Changes

One of the things I noticed yesterday was in an article about the Colorado Avalanche’s AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage. The team’s practice facility is getting a major renovation over the summer — which is excellent news for Avs’ prospects. However, what I noticed in the article was a quote from “Rampage General Manager Craig Billington.”

The reason that’s noteworthy is because earlier this season, when Rampage coach Dean Chynoweth was fired, I noted Billington’s title — director of player development. However, as of yesterday, the San Antonio Rampage are observing him as their general manager, though he’s not listed thus on the site’s coaching staff page. On the Colorado Avalanche’s staff page, he’s listed as that team’s assistant general manager.

Which brings me to my next observation, brought to us by Mile High Hockey. Greg Sherman is no longer listed on the Avalanche’s website in that capacity — or at all.

Sherman held the title of general manager from June 3, 2009 to September 19, 2014, at which time current GM Joe Sakic took the title. Sherman had served as the special assistant general manager to GM Francois Giguere from 2002 to 2009, known in Avs Nation as the Dark Ages.

In fact, Sherman lost his powers of GM in May of 2013 when Sakic was named president of hockey ops and Patrick Roy named VP of hockey ops. From then on, Sakic and Roy were running the Colorado Avalanche show.

When Sakic was named GM, Sherman was named assistant GM again. He also served as head of scouting for the team. I’m guessing that’s no longer true either, which brings us to the second observation from MHH — longtime WHL and Western Canada/US scout Rick Lanz is no longer listed on the team’s staff site. However, the Avalanche have listed a new part-time scout on the page, Lyle Wingert.

Let’s move on the the possible goalie change.

Berra Returning to Switzerland?

This morning, some eagle-eyed fans noted on Twitter something about Colorado Avalanche backup goalie Reto Berra:

The hockey site Elite Prospects has Berra’s transaction history as going from Colorado to Lugano.

Lugano is short for Hockey Club Lugano, located in Lugano,  Switzerland. Though not Berra’s home town, it is his home country. The team is part of the National League A. It has also won several Swiss championships.

As of right now, Berra still has a year left on his contract with a cap hit of $1.45 million. Berra played in just 14 games with the Colorado Avalanche last season. His season was derailed by an injury he sustained playing soccer before a game. He eventually was put on waivers — twice — and spent the rest of his season with the Rampage.

Many Avalanche fans would be big fans if Berra left Colorado for Switzerland. Berra did not debut well with Colorado, and many fans still think of him as the gangly goalie bumbling around in the crease.


More from Avalanche News

I’d like to say a big thank you to fans who creep the Colorado Avalanche’s website and other hockey sites with an eagle eye for noticing such changes.

That said, let’s start with the Berra rumor. In fact, with a little digging, it becomes clear that Reto Berra probably isn’t leaving for Lugano just yet. According to Swiss Hockey, HC Lugano is interested in signing Berra after his current contract expires. He’s not expected to play in Lugano until the 2017-18 season.

This actually makes me pretty happy. Reto Berra can be a beast in net, and he’s done good things for the Colorado Avalanche:

Plus, he will always be part of one of my favorite moments from the 2015-16 season (and there were so few):

Finally, as Will Radke points out, when you account for Adjusted Save Percentage — which is a fancy stat, by the way — Berra actually had more success than Semyon Varlamov last season!

Related Story: Avs Goalies and ASP

Besides, I’m still hoping Reto Berra will become Calvin Pickard‘s backup next season.

As far as the staffing changes go, they mostly make sense to me. Roy and Sakic have not been pleased by the team’s draft picks from recent years, and that speaks to scouting. They fired head scout Rick Pracey last year, and hey presto, instantly did better in the draft.

As far as Greg Sherman goes, he was part of the Dark Ages, the mismanagement that nearly brought our Colorado Avalanche to their knees. I’m surprised he lasted that long.

I’m a mite perplexed by the Craig Billington situation. Dean Chynoweth was fired at least partially because the Rampage were failing to develop the Avalanche’s prospects. It seems to me that the head of player development should have been watching that. However, maybe being the assistant GM isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be — it certainly didn’t work out for Sherman.

Bottom line — Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic are in control of the team. They have a vision. The personnel that don’t fit their vision have to go.