Jason Brough

Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy looks on intently against the Vancouver Canucks in the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016 in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP

No untouchables on Avalanche roster; Roy will be back as coach

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DENVER (AP) Coach Patrick Roy and his intense glare will be back. That’s about the only certainty after another season gone sour for the Colorado Avalanche.

There are no untouchable players with the team missing the playoffs for a second straight year. Call with an offer and general manager Joe Sakic intends to listen.

“Wayne Gretzky got traded – twice,” Sakic said. “We have to explore different options to see how we can become a better team.”

This is a squad that struggled not only to win at home, but to hold third-period leads. Even more, they’ve been trending in the wrong direction.

Under Roy, the team has gone from 112 points – and making the playoffs – in 2013-14, to 90 last season and 82 this time around.

Sakic, the Hall of Fame forward turned executive, doesn’t blame Roy, the Hall of Fame goaltender turned coach, and said “we’re in this thing together.” They captured two Stanley Cup titles together during their playing days with the Avalanche.

“Those guys have a plan and they’re carrying it out,” forward Matt Duchene said. “All of us as a group have to do our best.”

Just who may or may not be back remains to be seen. But no one is off limits – not even captain Gabriel Landeskog or goaltender Semyon Varlamov.

“I don’t think anybody is safe in this room,” Landeskog said. “We believe we have a good enough team to make the playoffs. There is no doubt in my mind about that. When you don’t, there are going to be consequences.”

The first game of the season provided a telling glimpse of things to come as the Avalanche squandered a three-goal, third-period lead to Minnesota in a 5-4 loss. The Wild ended up beating them out for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

In all, the Avalanche blew nine games when they had a lead in the final period, according to STATS.

“We all have to look in the mirror and figure out why it happened like this,” said Sakic, whose team went 17-20-4 at the Pepsi Center this season.

And it’s not like Minnesota was uncatchable down the stretch, either, with the Wild losing their final five games. Colorado closed out the year on a six-game slide.

“Minny opened the door for us and we slammed it on ourselves,” Duchene said.

Colorado was missing talented scorer Nathan MacKinnon for the last 10 games after he sprained the MCL in his knee. MacKinnon sat out the final 18 games a year ago because of a broken foot.

“It’s no fun being on the sidelines and watching the team,” MacKinnon said.

Here are things to know as the Avalanche head into what figures to be an active offseason:

STAY OR GO: Among Colorado’s free agents are forwards Shawn Matthias and Mikkel Boedker, two players the team picked up in trades to help them down the stretch.

“If it works out we’d love to keep both of them,” Sakic said.

Defenseman Tyson Barrie, goaltender Calvin Pickard and MacKinnon are among the team’s restricted free agents.

PART OF THE PLAN: Sakic said his faith in Roy hasn’t been shaken and they will tweak the system. Younger players such as forward Mikko Rantanen and defenseman Nikita Zadorov also will provide a boost.

“This isn’t a quick fix,” Sakic said. “We’re confident we can turn things around.”

WRATH OF ROY: Duchene drew the ire of Roy for the way he celebrated his 30th goal of the season late in a 5-1 loss to St. Louis on April 3. They’ve patched things up. Still, Duchene knows changes could be coming.

“We get paid a lot of money and we’re done too early again,” he said.

HOME STRUGGLES: In years past, the Pepsi Center has provided a decisive advantage. Not so much this season as Colorado earned 38 points at home and 44 on the road.

“It’s obvious our home record is not good enough,” Roy said.

IGINLA’S CHARGE: The 38-year-old Jarome Iginla played in all 82 games and reached the 20-goal plateau for a 17th time in his career. In addition, on the final day of the season, he scored career goal No. 611, moving him past Bobby Hull for sole possession of 16th place on the NHL’s all-time list. Next up, Sakic, who finished with 625 career goals.

Related: Duchene agrees goal celebration ‘wasn’t the right thing’

Coyotes fire Maloney, citing need for ‘new direction’

Don Maloney
AP
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Confirming an earlier report, the Arizona Coyotes made it official this afternoon, announcing that general manager Don Maloney has been fired.

“On behalf of our ownership group and the entire Arizona Coyotes organization, I would like to sincerely thank Don for all of his hard work and the many contributions he made to our organization during his tenure,” said club president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc in a release. “The Coyotes had some success with Don, but we believe a change in leadership is needed in order to move our franchise forward in a new direction.”

The Coyotes say the search for a new GM will begin immediately, and that one will be hired “well before” the draft in late June. They also say that analytics will be a big part of their strategy going forward, meaning any candidate will require a modern management philosophy.

The Hockey News, meanwhile, is reporting that Maloney was fired after losing a “power struggle” with head coach Dave Tippett, and also that Stars assistant GM Les Jackson is a candidate to replace Maloney.

Maloney joined the Coyotes almost a decade ago. He guided the team to three playoff appearances, including a run to the Western Conference Final in 2012, the last year they qualified for the postseason. For much of Maloney’s tenure, the franchise was in danger of relocation, and he faced financial constraints in putting a roster together.

It’s still not known where the club will call home in the near future, though a move out of the Phoenix area seems less likely today than in previous years

Burrows would ‘love to be back’ with Canucks, but that may not happen

Vancouver Canucks' Alex Burrows celebrates his goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday, March 28, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)
AP
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Alex Burrows hopes he hasn’t played his last game as a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

“I’d love to be back, love this city, love this team, care a lot about it,” he told reporters this morning while seated beside fellow veterans Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Dan Hamhuis.

“It would be nice to win a Stanley Cup in this city.”

Unfortunately for Burrows, it seems highly unlikely that will happen. Not only do the Canucks appear years away from contending again, the 35-year-old is believed to be a candidate for a buyout. He has one more season left on his contract. If he’s bought out, it would be a $2.5 million cap hit in 2016-17 and a $1 million hit the season after that.

The Canucks could also try to trade Burrows, retaining salary if needed. Management has not yet informed him of their intentions — his future could depend partly on what happens in the upcoming draft lottery — but for the record, he believes he has more to give than he showed this past season when he managed just nine goals in 79 games.

“I’m looking forward to a good summer of working out,” he said. “Last year, I starting working out really late because of the rib injury.”

Daniel Sedin would like to see Burrows return. Ditto for Hamhuis, the 33-year-old pending unrestricted free agent.

“Hopefully they’re going to be here next year,” said Sedin, calling Burrows a “big part of our success” and Hamhuis  a “big part of the D core.”

At the same time, Henrik Sedin conceded, “We all realize we need to get younger before we get better.”

And, so, another summer of hard decisions begins in Vancouver. The Canucks finished 2015-16 with just 75 points, 26 fewer than last season, and the fewest for the club since 1998-99. They were beset by injuries, but their issues went far beyond health.

GM Jim Benning and head coach Willie Desjardins will address the media tomorrow.

Healthy Caps: Beagle expected back for Game 1 of playoffs

Washington Capitals' Jay Beagle (83) and Florida Panthers' Aleksander Barkov (16) battle for the puck during the third period of a NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. The Panthers won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
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Jay Beagle is expected to be ready for the playoffs, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan told reporters today.

And just in case you didn’t believe him, MacLellan sent forward Zach Sill back to AHL Hershey.

Beagle was hurt blocking a shot Saturday in St. Louis. He didn’t play Sunday versus Anaheim due to a lower-body injury.

The 30-year-old forward is arguably the Caps’ best faceoff man; he plays a major role on the penalty kill, too.

If Beagle is indeed ready to go, the Caps will start the playoffs entirely healthy. And that’s not something many teams can say.

Habs owner ‘not interested in excuses,’ but committed to ‘stability’ after disappointing season

Geoff Molson
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Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson is “not interested in excuses.” He only wants to find ways to get the Habs back on track, after they “hit a bump in the road” in 2015-16.

“As far as what to expect in the offseason,” Molson wrote on the club’s website, “I will let our hockey operations team, led by Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien, detail these in due time. When you have a disappointing season like the one we just had, no stone can be left unturned in looking for ways to improve. You have my full commitment that we will do everything possible to improve our team.

“This being said, despite subpar results this season, stability in our approach remains the focus. The mark of all good organizations in sports is stability and long-term vision. I remain convinced that we have a strong foundation of core players and veterans, as well as younger players with promising futures.”

The Canadiens, of course, were largely undone this season by the injury to Carey Price. Their problems extended beyond that, yes, but when you go from having the NHL’s best goaltending to having pretty much the opposite, it’s going to show up in the results.

Of note, Molson’s commitment to “stability,” as well as his nod to the Canadiens’ “strong foundation of core players,” would seem to fly in the face of the trade rumors surrounding P.K. Subban.

Today, Subban laughed off the notion that there was a rift between him and captain Max Pacioretty

…while first-line winger Brendan Gallagher spoke glowingly about Subban.

Bergevin, Therrien, and Molson will hold a joint press conference later today.

Updates from the press conference: