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Colorado Avalanche president Pierre Lacroix stepping down

Photo: Brennan Linsley/AP

Avalanche great Joe Sakic will be the team's new executive VP of hockey operations.

DENVER (AP) -- The Colorado Avalanche are shaking up their front office, with Pierre Lacroix stepping down as team president after 18 seasons and two Stanley Cup titles.

The team announced Friday that Josh Kroenke will replace Lacroix, who will serve as an adviser. Former team captain Joe Sakic is also being elevated to executive vice president of hockey operations.

Over his career with the organization, Lacroix supervised the relocation of the team from Quebec to Denver and was the architect behind the championship teams in 1996 and 2001. He assembled a talent-rich lineup led by Sakic that captured nine straight division titles a decade ago.

Kroenke, who is also president of the Denver Nuggets, said Lacroix has been a mentor to him and would "continue to be a valuable resource for all of us." However, he said that Sakic will be in charge of all hockey-related decisions.

"With his credentials, presence and knowledge of the game, Joe will be a key ingredient in making sure that we reach our future goals," Kroenke said in a statement.

The Avalanche have fallen on lean years, missing the playoffs for a third straight season.

Sakic was the longtime on-ice leader of the Avs during his 20-year career and led the team to a pair of Stanley Cup titles. He's spent the last two seasons serving as the team's executive adviser/alternate governor, with somewhat undefined responsibilities.

By promoting Sakic, the Avs are borrowing a page from the Denver Broncos, who brought in Hall of Famer John Elway to take over as executive vice president and help revive the team. Elway has flourished in his front office role, just like he once did on the field.

Sakic was the face of the franchise since the day the team arrived in the Mile High City before the 1995-96 season. He wore the captain's "C" for 17 seasons and guided the Avalanche to championship titles in 1996 and 2001. He also won league MVP honors in 2001, was a 13-time All-Star and led Canada to an Olympic gold medal in 2002.

For all of that, the team retired No. 19 in his honor and a commemorative banner hangs from the Pepsi Center rafters.

Things got so bad for the Avalanche toward the end of this season that veteran goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere questioned the team's heart, enraged that some of the players were more concerned with postseason vacation plans in Las Vegas than their play on the ice. That woke them up, too, as the Avs went 3-2-2 down the stretch against teams that had already clinched or were looking to sew up playoff berths.

The team fired coach Joe Sacco on April 28 and Lacroix's son, Eric, left his position of vice president of hockey relations.

Greg Sherman will remain the team's general manager.

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