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Colorado Avalanche hire Joe Sacco as coach

DENVER - The Colorado Avalanche hired Joe Sacco of the AHLas their coach on Thursday, a day after firing Tony Granato andshaking up their front office.

Sacco inherits a team coming off its worst finish since movingto Denver in 1995. He was promoted from the Avalanche's AmericanHockey League affiliate, where he coached the Lake Erie Monstersthe past two seasons.

Sacco was to be introduced at a news conference by newlyappointed general manager Greg Sherman and assistant GM CraigBillington.

"The American Hockey League has proven to be a valuabletraining ground for NHL head coaches and we're confident that Joe'sexperience at that level will be vital to his success with ourorganization at the NHL level," Sherman said in a statement.

The Avalanche made sweeping changes Wednesday, firing Granatoand five others. The team also announced a new managementstructure, promoting Sherman to general manager.

The 40-year-old Sacco has been with the Avalanche organizationfor the past four seasons. He also was an assistant coach for theteam's two previous AHL affiliates, the Lowell Lock Monsters(2005-06) and Albany River Rats (2006-07).

One of Sacco's assistant coaches will be Sylvain Lefebvre, whoserved with him at Lake Erie. Lefebvre also was a member of theAvalanche's Stanley Cup winning squad in 1996.

The Monsters finished 34-38-3-5 under Sacco last year, which waseight more wins than their inaugural season in 2007-08.

"I'm very honored and grateful to the Avalanche organizationfor giving me this opportunity," Sacco said in a statement.

A former NHL forward, Sacco appeared in 738 games over a 13-yearcareer that included stints with Toronto, Anaheim, the New YorkIslanders, Washington and Philadelphia.

The native of Medford, Mass., was also part of the United Stateshockey team that finished fourth at the 1992 Olympics inAlbertville, France.

"I'm confident in my abilities and believe the experience I'vegained will help me succeed in this new challenge," Sacco said.

He joins a team that missed the playoffs for a second time inthree seasons as it stumbled to a last-place finish in the WesternConference.

The team is strapped by salary cap issues and has both of itsgoalies, Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft, unsigned for next season.The Avalanche are also waiting to see if captain Joe Sakic returnsfor a 21st season.

The team courted Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy to be itscoach a few weeks ago, but he turned them down after contemplatingthe offer.

In April, the Avalanche fired general manager Francois Giguere,leading president Pierre Lacroix to step in and oversee the team.

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