By Michael Spencer

DENVER (CBS4/AP) – Former Colorado Avalanche general manager and team president Pierre Lacroix has passed away at the age of 72.

Former president and general manager Pierre Lacroix of the Colorado Avalanche is introduced during a ceremony to honor the 20th Anniversary Team before a game against the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center on December 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

“Pierre was the architect of the Avalanche’s two Stanley Cup championships, which included the city of Denver’s first major sports championship in 1996. Pierre was instrumental in not only the team’s on-ice success, but also building the Avalanche brand into what it is today. His legacy reaches far beyond the NHL level and his impact can be felt throughout all of youth hockey in the Rocky Mountain region. Our thoughts are with the Lacroix family during this difficult time, his wife, Colombe, his sons Martin and Eric, and his three grandchildren,” the Avalanche released in a statement on Sunday morning.

Lacroix was with the Nordiques and Avalanche franchise from 1994-2006.

Current owner and chairman Stanley Kroenke shared his memories of Lacroix.

“Pierre was truly a legend and one of the greatest executives in sports. He had a ‘team first’ mentality that valued players and staff equally and his winning attitude was immediately evident to our family when we acquired the Avalanche in 2000. Denver is considered one of the world’s towering sports cities and that would be impossible without Pierre’s many contributions, including leading the Avs to Colorado’s first major professional championship with the 1996 Stanley Cup title,” he said. “We will miss him greatly.”

Joe Sakic, the team’s Executive Vice President and General Manager, echoed the sentiments.

“It is a sad day for the Avalanche organization and its fans. Pierre was a visionary and a true leader,” he said. “Pierre is someone I trusted very much right from the first time I met him.  I’ll always remember him as not only a great GM but an even better person. He always treated everyone like family and he wanted us players to have that same mentality.”

No cause of death was given.

Colorado Avalanche President Pierre Lacroix reflects on the up coming season. (Photo By RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Known for his shrewd trades, Lacroix struck a deal with Montreal to acquire Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy during the ’95-96 season. It paid off with the city of Denver’s first major sports championship.

In another big move soon after, Lacroix matched a large contract offer made to Hall of Fame forward Joe Sakic that pretty much assured he would wear an Avalanche sweater for the rest of his career. Sakic is now following in Lacroix’s footsteps as the general manager of the Avalanche.

Lacroix also traded for Hall of Fame defensemen Ray Bourque and Rob Blake, who were instrumental during the 2001 Stanley Cup run. Bourque retired soon after lifting the Cup.

Hired by Quebec in 1994, he served as the franchise’s GM until 2005-06. Over that span, the organization won nine straight division titles and made six appearances in the Western Conference finals.

He then served as the team’s president until 2013 when the franchise announced a restructuring. Josh Kroenke took over as president while Lacroix remained with the organization as an adviser.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)  

Michael Spencer