The Colorado Avalanche announced today the appointment of Joe Sacco and Sylvain Lefebvre to the respective head coach and assistant coach positions with the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.
The club will drop the puck on its inaugural campaign in Cleveland next fall. The Avalanche will independently operate this AHL team after reaching a four-year agreement in December of last year.
Sacco, 38, will start his third season with the Avalanche organization where he’s been an assistant coach with each of the team’s last two AHL-affiliate clubs in Lowell, Mass., and Albany, N.Y., serving as a key figure in the development process for Avalanche prospects such as Ben Guite, Jeff Finger and Kyle Cumiskey.
It will be his first professional head coaching appointment after playing in 738 NHL games with Toronto, Anaheim, N.Y. Islanders, Washington and Philadelphia. Sacco also saw playing time in the AHL with Newmarket, St. John’s and Philadelphia.
“Joe has been a key part of this organization’s development efforts over the last two seasons as an assistant coach in the American League which has prepared him for this new challenge,” said Avalanche executive vice president and general manager Francois Giguere. “He’ll play a vital role in implementing our vision and executing our plan of developing our young prospects within our system in Cleveland.”
“I definitely feel ready for the challenge,” said Sacco. “The Avalanche organization has built a winning tradition in Denver and I want to thank them for their support and trust in my capabilities. I look forward to moving to Cleveland and working with a dynamic organization.”
Assisting Sacco behind the bench will be former Avalanche defenseman Sylvain Lefebvre who will be making his coaching debut after spending last season in the Avalanche player development department. Lefebvre, 39, appeared in 945 NHL contests over 14 seasons with Montreal, Toronto, Quebec, Colorado and N.Y. Rangers organizations. He was part of the Avalanche defensive corps for four seasons from 1995-1999, including the club’s Stanley Cup championship campaign of 1995-96.
Lefebvre also played in the AHL with Sherbrooke (1987-89) and Hartford (2001-02).
“With his extensive experience as an NHL defenseman, Sylvain will be a great resource for our young defensemen as they grow into NHL-caliber players,” said Giguere. “We are excited about what Joe and Sylvain will bring to our organization’s development efforts. Both of them have the necessary background and experience to lead our AHL team.”
The new Cleveland franchise is owned by a group led by Dan Gilbert, owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Gilbert is also Chairman and Founder of the nation’s largest online home mortgage lender, Quicken Loans, Inc. The Monsters’ home ice will be in Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland, Ohio and the team will practice in their new, dedicated training facility at Iceland USA in Strongsville (OH).