Former Avalanche GM Lacroix, who brought two Stanley Cups to Colorado, dies at 72
Former Quebec Nordiques and Colorado Avalanche general manager Pierre Lacroix died last weekend at the age of 72.
The Avalanche announced Lacroix’s death on Sunday.
“It is with great sadness that the Colorado Avalanche organization has learned of the passing of Pierre Lacroix,” read the team’s statement. “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.”
Le Journal de Quebec reported that Lacroix died in Las Vegas on Sunday due to COVID-19 complications.
Kroenke Sports and Entertainment owner and chairman E. Stanley Kroenke also said a few words on Lacroix’s passing.
“Pierre was truly a legend and one of the greatest executives in sports,” said Kroenke. “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.
“Pierre had a unique zest for life that uplifted anyone who knew him. He treated everyone like they were a part of his family and was always available to anyone who needed his guidance. We will miss him greatly. On behalf of my family, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment and the Avalanche organization, we extend our sincerest condolences to Coco, Martin and Eric, and Pierre’s three grandchildren.”
Eric Lacroix played for the Avalanche from 1996-98.
Lacroix started his career as a player agent before being hired as the Nordiques’ GM in 1994. He moved to Colorado with the team for the 1995-96 season and pulled the trigger on several big trades that helped build the Avalanche into a contender, including the deal bringing goalie Patrick Roy to Colorado from Montreal 25 years ago this month, as well as getting defensemen Ray Bourque in 2000 from Boston and Rob Blake in 2001 from Los Angeles.
The teams Lacroix built won nine division titles in his first nine seasons as a general manager.
Lacroix stayed with the Avalanche as GM until 2006 and then stayed on as team president until 2013.
Joe Sakic, who captained the Avalanche to Stanley Cup championships in 1996 and 2001 under Lacroix’s leadership and now serves as Colorado’s GM, said “it is a sad day for the Avalanche organization and its fans.”
“Pierre was a visionary and a true leader,” Sakic said. “From the moment he took over as GM, he established a winning culture that spread throughout the organization. As players, we knew he would do everything he could to help the team achieve that goal of hoisting the Stanley Cup. Pierre was instrumental in not only building the Avalanche into a championship team but also in the growth of hockey in Colorado. His footprint is everywhere in this hockey community.
“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. He was a great example to all of us. Pierre was a mentor to me and someone I learned a lot about the business of hockey from. We as an organization and myself personally, will really miss him. On behalf of the Avalanche organization, we are sending our thoughts to Coco, Martin, Eric and the entire Lacroix family.”
Marc Crawford coached the 1996 Avalanche team and tweeted that Lacroix gave him “the opportunity of a lifetime” 26 years ago.
“Together in Quebec and Colorado he did everything he could to help us, make the playoffs, finish atop of our division each year, and win the 1996 Stanley Cup,” Crawford said. “He was our leader and the Avs’ undisputed architect. He ran our team like a family, always making sure every person was taken care of. This wasn’t an act; it was how he lived. He was a great husband to his wife, Colombe, great father to Eric and Martin and he was Uncle Pete to all the kids of anyone involved with the Avalanche. He was so passionate about life and hockey. His competitiveness was matched only by his sense of humor. He loved to win, he loved to laugh, and he has left us all with so many great memories. Gone too soon. RIP Uncle Pete.”
National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman also commented on Lacroix.
“Pierre Lacroix’s eye for talent, appreciation for elite-level athletes and fearlessness in pulling off the big trade made him one of the most successful team builders in recent NHL history,” said Bettman. “Fiercely competitive and personally engaging, he was highly regarded by his fellow general managers and his voice was respected throughout the league.
“Having represented such superstar Quebec players as Patrick Roy and Mike Bossy as an agent, Lacroix traded for Roy, Ray Bourque and Rob Blake as a GM to complete Avalanche teams with young mainstays such as Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg, turning them into champions. The National Hockey League mourns his passing and sends our condolences to his wife, Colombe, their sons, Martin and Eric, and the entire Lacroix family.”
Many former and current players and colleagues took to social media to express their sadness in hearing about Lacroix, in addition to Colorado Avalanche Alumni Association president John-Michael Liles, who spent 2003-11 in Colorado.
“The Colorado Avalanche Alumni Association is heartbroken to hear of the passing of Pierre Lacroix,” Liles said. “He was an amazing man who was respected the hockey world to this day. His legacy speaks for itself, and many from our association were fortunate enough to be part of the hugely successful teams he assembled during his time in Colorado.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and those in the organization who worked with him on a daily basis for so many years.”
(Dec. 15, 2020)