By Damen Zier, Colorado Avalanche
Colorado Avalanche President, Pierre Lacroix, the architect and leader of Colorado’s most successful major league professional hockey franchise, began his Colorado journey in the summer of 1995. Transferring his Nordiques organization, full of promise and young stars, from Quebec City to Denver, Lacroix launched a brand which would dramatically transform the landscape of professional and amateur hockey in Colorado.
Under Lacroix’s guidance and direction, the Avalanche was installed as a fixture on the Colorado sports market for the next decade. During his 1995-2006 tenure as the club’s
President and General Manager, the Avalanche:
- Won Stanley Cup championships twice (1996, 2001), including Colorado’s first major
pro sports championship in 1996;
- Earned an NHL-record nine consecutive division titles (1995-2003);
- Posted the longest-recorded sellout streak in NHL history (484 from 1995-2006);
- Made six appearances in the Western Conference Finals (1996, 1997, 1999, 2000,
- Advanced to the playoffs 11 straight seasons;
- Won an NHL-best 26 playoff series and
- Had a .623 winning percentage, second-best in the NHL.
Admired for his shrewd trading tactics, Lacroix’s trade-deadline acquisitions of key players who enhanced the club’s run into the playoffs are well-known. Included were Hall-of-Famers
Patrick Roy and Ray Bourque, who not only gave the Avalanche a discernible competitive advantage, but also became fan favorites whose numbers currently hang from the rafters of the Pepsi Center in tribute. Roy was among three major trades Lacroix brokered for the Avalanche during that first 1995-96 NHL campaign in Colorado, earning the GM 1996 NHL Executive of the Year honors from The Hockey News.
The success which the Avalanche franchise enjoyed during Lacroix’s tenure helped launch a hockey boom in Colorado. Since the club’s arrival in 1995, youth and adult hockey program participation in the state has quadrupled, fueling the demand for construction of 12 new ice arenas within the Denver Metro area. Today, barely a decade later, Colorado’s amateur and youth hockey programs continue to thrive.
Lacroix’s drive for the organization to be involved in community and charitable endeavors spawned the Colorado Avalanche Charity Fund (CACF), which was recognized nationally in 2001 for its contributions to the Denver area. The CACF distributed more than $11 million to Colorado charities from 1995-2006. Included was Lacroix’s inspired “Legacy Project,” which celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Avalanche in Denver by distributing $1 million in grants to 10 Denver charities in one night.
Lacroix and his wife, Coco, firmly established their home in Colorado in 1995 and went on to become U.S. citizens in 2001. After 11 seasons at the helm of the Avalanche, having achieved the “ultimate goal” twice as the club’s President and General Manager, Lacroix relinquished the daily responsibilities as general manager in April, 2006 but remains the club’s president until 2013, now serving as an advisor for the club.
The success which the Avalanche franchise enjoyed during Lacroix’s tenure helped launch a hockey boom in Colorado.