Former NHLer Joe Sacco is the new head coach of the Colorado Avalanche, a move the club announced at a news conference Thursday afternoon at the Pepsi Center.
Sacco, 40, has been behind the bench for the past two years with the Lake Erie Monsters, the team's AHL franchise.
The announcement comes a day after the Avalanche shook up the front office, firing six staff members, including head coach Tony Granato.
"I'm confident in my abilities and believe the experience I've gained will help me succeed in this new challenge," Sacco said in a statement. "I'm very honoured and grateful to the Avalanche organization for giving me this opportunity."
He inherits a team coming off its worst season since it moved to Denver in 1995. Colorado missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons and finished last in the Western Conference.
The Avs also face salary cap issues, and both goalies, Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft, are unsigned for next season.
Former Colorado defenceman Sylvain Lefebvre will join Sacco as assistant coach. Lefebvre, who won a Stanley Cup with Colorado in 1996, was an assistant under Sacco with Lake Erie.
Assistant coaches Jacques Cloutier and Dave Barr, goaltending coach Jeff Hackett, assistant to the general manager Michel Goulet, and video co-ordinator P.J. DeLuca were also fired from the Avalanche staff on Wednesday.
That same day the Avalanche announced the hiring of Greg Sherman as general manager. Colorado let GM Francois Giguere go in April.
Monsters failed to make playoffs
"The American Hockey League has proven to be a valuable training ground for NHL head coaches and we're confident that Joe's experience at that level will be vital to his success with our organization at the NHL level," Sherman said in a statement.
Under Sacco, both this season and last season, the Monsters failed to make the playoffs. The team finished with eight more wins at the end of this season compared with last, with a record of 34-38-3-5.
Sacco has been with the Avalanche the past four seasons, having served as an assistant for the team's two previous AHL affiliates, the Lowell Lock Monsters (2005-06) and Albany River Rats (2006-07).
A former forward, Sacco played 13 years in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, New York Islanders, Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Medford, Mass., native was part of the American team that finished fourth in the 1992 Olympic Games in Albertville, France.
Colorado was after Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy to take over the reins as head coach, but Roy turned the offer down.With files from The Canadian Press