Colorado Avalanche: Do You Trust Joe Sakic?


While the Colorado Avalanche seem to be trusting in former player-star Joe Sakic as GM, do Avs fans have enough patience for his plans?

The Colorado Avalanche are prey to the same pressures as any other NHL team.

In many ways, the NHL is a reactionary culture. Failure is met with judgement, criticism and is swiftly addressed with radical personnel change. This change comes in the form of a coach or general manager losing his job, a rash free agent signing, or occasionally, a franchise altering trade.

Either way, NHL franchises and fan bases, especially those with a history and tradition of competitive teams, do not tolerate losing for long. They expect their team’s front office to effect drastic change and bring immediate results. This reactionary philosophy is dominant in the NHL, and probably most sport –, heck, maybe society as a whole. However, it removes the opportunity for patience and deep growth.

Many fans want to believe their team is one move or one player away from being a legitimate cup contender. In reality, it is extremely difficult for a franchise to evolve this quickly overnight. Today’s NHL requires more than talent for success; organizational depth, responsive coaching and player development highlight a successful franchise.  Building these qualities in a franchise and roster is no short task.

Related Story: Sakic & Roy's Plans

While the last two Colorado Avalanche seasons have been frustrating, it’s clear that GM Joe Sakic is taking a measured and careful approach to building a competitive franchise and is not looking for shortcuts.

In his time as GM, Sakic has addressed the needs of depth and development. He fired longtime scout Rick Pracey in favor of Alan Hepple. He also helped create new minor league affiliations with the San Antonio rampage of the AHL and the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL.  

While attending to these organization wide needs, Sakic has also built a roster around the core framework of Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan Mackinnon, Erik Johnson, Semyon Varlamov and Tyson Barrie. He’s focused on veteran leadership, skilled role players, affordability and untapped potential.

Players like John Mitchell, Andreas Martinsen and Blake Comeau exemplify the ability of Sakic and his brain trust to identify affordable talent, potential and characte. The presence of veteran leaders Jarome Iginla, Francois Beauchemin and recently bought-out Brad Stuart can only have a positive impact on the young and growing core, despite their age and liability on the ice.  

Perhaps most exciting is the massive potential sitting in the skates of Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov, Mikko Rantanen, Calvin Pickard, Chris Bigras, Mason Geertsen and newcomer Tyson Jost.

Colorado Avalanche fans have suffered massive frustration in the past two years, not to mention the last decade since the team was truly competitive. The rest of the NHL has questioned Sakic’s decision making. Yet Joe has calmly and quietly set in motion an evolution of a franchise that never fully recovered from the post-lockout salary cap.  

By signaling to the Avs fan base that we shouldn’t expect major changes to the roster this offseason, Super Joe is asking us to show the same patience he’s exerted throughout this process.  Patience is key to Sakic’s approach as it allows him to truly invest in the talent of his players by allowing them the time and space to grow.  

colorado avalanche
Joe Sakic taken from USA Today archives /

Unfortunately for Joe, his long term plans have yet to come to fruition as the team and franchise as a whole is still clearly developing.  

This puts the fans in a place of anxiety. As we wait for our prospects to grow, our core to become leaders and our coach to put it all together, it’s easy to get lost in frustration and to search for quick fix solutions.  Yet, Sakic’s patience inspires its own confidence as a firmly rational approach focused on the long-term vitality of the franchise, not to be sacrificed for a quick fix.

Although it would be nice for the Colorado Avalanche to resurrect overnight to the stature of an elite franchise again, as a franchise and fanbase, there are likely more growing pains to come.  This upcoming year should be telling, as we wait and see if the core is able to take the next step, if Roy is able to evolve as a coach and if our prospects and young talent continue to grow.   

You can be sure, if this year is unsuccessful there will be radical change in personnel, both on the ice and off, but now is not the time to make judgements, especially of Sakic.

Next: Avs with the Most Stanley Cup Attitude

At the end of the day, the Colorado Avalanche are swimming in unrealized potential and possibility.  Underlying our uncertain fate is the pragmatic and patient vision of Sakic.  As we wait anxiously for resolution, one question emerges to me: Do you trust Joe Sakic?