DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado Avalanche Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic was one of the best hockey players of all time. He retired a couple of years ago and decided to take a little time off. But he wanted to get back into the hockey world after his break and is glad he did.
“I had a great couple of years and already it’s been nice, this transition. Obviously there’s a lot more pressure now and that’s a good pressure to have,” Sakic told CBS4’s Gary Miller on Xfinity Monday Live!
Miller asked Sakic how he handles the new style of pressure that he faces as an executive.
“I think you’ve just got to love what you’re doing, and I love being part of the game and to be part of the decision making process,” he replied.
He said he was pleased he was able to hire the coach that he wanted, his former teammate, Patrick Roy.
“It’s been great and obviously we’re getting ready to go to New York and have an exciting week at the draft,” Sakic said.
Avs Governor Josh Kroenke also runs the Denver Nuggets and is known as more of a basketball man. Knowing that, Sakic said he needed some assurances from Kroenke and he got them before he decided to take the front office job.
“We had breakfast one morning downtown and I expressed my feelings going forward and he expressed his … they are all in. And I left that meeting knowing that this is what I wanted to do, and I knew I was getting support from ownership.
“Obviously with Josh stepping in and being president and being around a lot more – he’s going to be with us at the draft — it is huge for obviously myself and our whole organization, so we’re excited going forward. We are looking forward to one day lifting the Stanley Cup again.”
The Avs have the first pick in the NHL draft next weekend, and everybody thought that top-ranked prospect defenseman Seth Jones with Denver ties would go first, but Sakic said they’re not heading that direction.
“Obviously we feel he’s going to have a real good career as well. But after doing our homework, we believe that these forwards are just too good to pass up right now,” Sakic said.
Sakic was alluding to forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin or Alexander Barkov. He said MacKinnon has “lived under the microscope of being the next (Sydney) Crosby and has done pretty well with that.”
“Obviously Jonathan Drouin is another playmaker that played with (MacKinnon), who’s got a tremendous amount of skill,” Sakic said. “People compare him to like he could be a Patrick Kane type guy.”
Sakic said if he had to draft today, the Avs would probably take MacKinnon.
“But we still have some time … we are looking forward to getting to New Jersey and we know we’re going to get some offers and listen to some calls, and if not can we are very happy picking number one. So we’ve got to be flexible and try to do whatever is best for our franchise.”
Anything is possible on draft day but it sounds like Sakic and the Avs have their minds made up.
– By Matthew J. Buettner, CBSDenver.com
Watch more of the video with Joe Sakic in the Xfinity Monday Live! section.