A club like Joe Sakic

Before starting the last series I told you my heart was with Avalanche and I’m happy for their championship because it’s my old team but also for their general manager Joe Sakic, a man who needs to be given a lot Credit.

Having played with Sakic for just over two seasons, I quickly realized that he was a great captain and now we can name him one of the NHL’s finest general managers. His team is in his picture. His players were on a mission and ultimately wanted the Stanley Cup more than the Lightning.

These are two great organizations and, if you let it, it’s even a little disheartening for supporters of the Canadians, who haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993. The Avalanche won it in 1996, 2001 and 2022; the Lightning, in 2004, 2020 and 2021. These organizations have managed to rebuild at least twice and will continue to be dangerous in the coming seasons.

The Canadian has been treading water for more than 25 years and if it’s encouraging, the Habs have yet to reach the level of a serious contender for the cup.

Colorado’s goalie Darcy Kuemper was under a lot of pressure against the best of his craft, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and although he conceded bad goals here and there, he never broke and his coach Jared Bednar trusted him.

Also, at the Avalanche, everyone supported each other. We haven’t heard anything negative and it’s like Sakic. As captain, he made everyone feel part of the team. Many times in my career I’ve seen veterans barely speak to rookies, but Sakic took care of everyone.

He was very friendly not only to all the players but also to the equipment maintainers and all the staff he worked with.

the same person

When I played golf with him two years ago, I found the same man. He showed me that he judged the avalanche very clearly and, like a good chess player, saw several moves ahead. I was struck by how well he knew his players on a human level.

They say leadership starts at the top of the pyramid and Sakic is the perfect example. Its best players are also leaders if we think in particular of captain Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar.

No panic

Patience is a great virtue. Bednar said he expected to be fired after his debut season in 2016-17 but Sakic never panicked. He hired him because he believed in his qualities as a coach and leader and didn’t betray him.

In fact, Bednar was as good as the famous Jon Cooper in that final and I think the two men are very similar.

Feinkalkulator, Sakic did not want to overpay his ex-keeper Philipp Grubauer and turned to Kümper. He negotiated the hard way with Kent Hughes to get Artturi Lehkonen from the Canadians in exchange for Justin Barron, but in the end the GM also gave up a second-round pick in 2024. Sakic understood what Lehkonen would bring him.

Sakic is also a just man. In Makar’s case, he gave him the jackpot on his second contract, knowing what kind of player and person he was.

He will have several deals to negotiate this summer, but I am confident he will find the solutions to keep the Avalanche at the top. Of course he deserves all our congratulations.

– Interview by Gilles Moffet

excerpts

Paul Moritz in Florida


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Archive photo, Martin Chevalier

When it comes to patience, the Florida Panthers are no match for the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s still surprising that they haven’t kept Andrew Brunette’s services behind the bank. After all, he was a finalist for the Jack Adams Trophy for best coach. Paul Moritz is an experienced man, but I would still have given Brunette the chance to start next season.

Luke Richardson in Chicago


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Photo archive, Pierre-Paul Poulin

The Canadian lost an excellent assistant Luke Richardson. I’m curious who will follow him. It will likely be someone close to Martin St-Louis. Richardson’s a good man, but it’s going to be a tough job in Chicago.

The Austin Matthews party


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Austin Matthews was the king of trophy night, raising the Hart and the Ted-Lindsay. He had already won the Maurice Richard Trophy as top scorer with 60 goals and it shows how exceptional that achievement is. Impressive Avalanche defenseman Cale Makkar won the Norris Trophy, then the Stanley Cup and the Conn-Smythe. He will probably add the Hart Trophy to his collection one day.

Congratulations to Luongo!


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Roberto Luongo deserves his Hall of Fame nomination well. He worked wonders on his debut with the Florida Panthers, but the team was no match for him. He excelled in Vancouver and was just a game away from winning the Stanley Cup. What I remember from him is his consistency. He’s excelled season after season, playing more than 70 games in four straight campaigns. Having met him at the 2004 World Cup I can tell you that he is one of the hardest workers I know. He was also an excellent teammate and will be remembered for agreeing to, and even supporting, the Canucks’ relegation to the number two role behind young Cory Schneider.

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