09 March 2011
Theory: Sacco will be fired within days after the end of the regular season. Avalanche management has decided not to replace Joe Sacco until then in order to give the Avalanche a competitive disadvantage through the remainder of the 2010-11 season.
Why do they want to allow the team to play with a competitive disadvantage? They want as high a draft pick as possible. The top of the NHL draft is unquestionably the best place to get elite talent that can immediately help your team. It's how Pittsburgh got Crosby, Malkin and Fleury. It's how Chicago nabbed Toews and Kane.
Case: An NHL head coach has 3 major functions - Sacco is failing miserably at all of them:
1. To get his team to play hard for 60mins. Once a team quits on an NHL coach, they need to be replaced. That has clearly happened in the case of Sacco. Most glaringly during a 9-1 loss to Calgary on 2/14, but has occurred in recent home losses to Edmonton and it the 3rd period of Tuesday's loss in Minnesota.
2. To implement a competitive system. Xs and Os. A blueprint to beat Sacco's system was developed by the LA Kings in a 5-0 loss on 12/21 - don't allow them to skate. Sacco has failed to develop a way to counter this.
3. Player Management. Whether it was killing the morale of Craig Anderson or continuously allow Matt Hunwick and / or Kyle Cumiskey to stay in the lineup despite absouletly horrific play, Sacco has left a lot to be desired here.
All signs point to Sacco needing to be let go. It's clearly time.
Herm Edwards was right - "you play to win the game." No one will ever tell the team, hey guys - only give 80% tonight or try to keep it close but make sure to lose at the end. But management can make it harder for a team to win by controlling who is leading the team and who is on the team. And that is exactly what they are doing.
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