NHL notebook: Avalanche fire coach Joe Sacco

Colorado Avalanche coach Joe Sacco was fired on Sunday after the team missed the playoffs for the third straight season.

The Avalanche never got on track in the lockout-shortened season and finished last in the Western Conference.

Sacco, a Medford native, was in his fourth season in Colorado and wound up with a 130-134-30 mark. He had one year left on his contract.


‘‘The organization believes a change of leadership behind the bench is needed going forward,’’ general manager Greg Sherman said in a release. ‘‘Joe has worked for this franchise for eight seasons and he is a dedicated and hard-working coach. We appreciate all he has done and wish him the best in the future.’’

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The Avalanche will soon begin their search for a replacement.

Laviolette will return

Peter Laviolette will return for a fifth season as coach of the Flyers, with a chance to prove this season was a blip and not the start of downward spiral for the franchise.

‘‘We’re not in the playoffs, so we all underperformed,’’ Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said. ‘‘Players, coaches, myself. And we’ve got to get better. I’m not unhappy with the coaches. I think they did a good job under the circumstances. But we’re sitting here today talking and the playoffs are going to start in two days and we’re not in them, so that’s not good.’’

The Flyers went 23-22-3 and were 10th in the Eastern Conference with 49 points. After a slow start, Laviolette’s performance was under scrutiny for most of the season. The Flyers’ defense was decimated by injuries, and overall inconsistent play doomed the team.


Holmgren made it clear he still believed Laviolette was the right coach and that enough talented players are in place — such as Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek — to make a quick return to the postseason.

Nieuwendyk out

The Stars fired GM Joe Nieuwendyk after four seasons, two coaches, and no playoff appearances. The dismissal came the day after Dallas completed a 22-22-4 season. The Stars missed the playoffs for the fifth season in a row. Owner Tom Gaglardi said in a statement that Nieuwendyk represented the Stars ‘‘extremely well’’ and ‘‘helped put pieces in place that will once again turn this team into a contender.’’ A person familiar with the decision told the AP that the Stars have hired Jim Nill, the Red Wings’ longtime assistant GM and a former Bruin, to replace Nieuwendyk . . . The draft lottery is Monday night, and the Panthers have the best odds of winning. The draw will determine the order of selection for the first 14 picks of the draft June 30. All 14 teams that missed the playoffs have a shot at the No. 1 selection. Florida, which finished with the fewest points, has a 25 percent chance of winning, followed by Colorado (19 percent) and Tampa Bay (14).