The longtime Colorado Avalanche GM, the first to bring a major championship to the city of Denver, passed away from COVID-19 Sunday in Las Vegas.
What can you say about Pierre Lacroix?
Any Avs fan can’t put into words what Lacroix, who passed away today at the age of 72, means to the franchise. Days after articles detailing the trade that sent Patrick Roy to Denver, each was sure to give credit to the man who spent every year since 1994 in some important role with the franchise, dating back to Quebec.
2 Stanley Cups, nine 1st place finishes (including one as the Quebec Nordiques), 2 President’s Trophies later there’s no doubt what Lacroix did for the team.
In a sense, Pierre Lacroix really was the Colorado Avalanche.
Arriving in 1994, Lacroix quickly turned the team around, hiring Marc Crawford, and leading the team to their second 1st place finish in franchise history. Trades would bring Claude Lemieux, Sandis Ozolinsh, and Roy, and eventually Ray Bourque and Rob Blake. There were even shots in the dark, signings like Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya to bring a 3rd Cup to Denver, or a trade to bring in former Hart winner Jose Theodore, after the Habs goalie struggled.
The Avs teams he presided over were the teams opponents tried to copy. With playoff experience and grittiness in Lemieux, archetypical defensiveness defense in Adam Foote, and a seemingly endless amount of depth, under Lacroix, the Avs were endless contenders.
Away from the ice, Lacroix was the one who selected future franchise — and NHL — faces such as Milan Hejduk, Chris Drury, and Alex Tanguay.
Under Lacroix, Joe Sakic was transformed from face and captain to a worthy front office ursuper. Giving his GM role to former assistant Francois Giguere in 2006, he remained as team president until 2013.
In a career deserving of the Hall of Fame, a legacy that enshrines him among hockey’s best, Pierre Lacroix was the true embodiment of an icon. He was the architect.