Colorado Avalanche's Pierre Lacroix finds a scapegoat in GM Francois Giguere

As noted in a blog yesterday, the end of a pathetic season by the Colorado Avalanche prompted a collective yawn by most mainstream sports fans -- a reaction that should worry Avs management. However, the person most likely to be punished for the team's performance -- coach Tony Granato -- managed to get through the past 24 hours relatively unscathed. Not so general manager Francois Giguere, who walked out of the team's HQ carrying his head.

Why? As Denver Post hockey scribe Adrian Dater accurately points out, the Avs have a huge payroll, with a big chunk of its dough -- more than $43 million -- going to just thirteen players, seven of whom are over age thirty. Worse, the team hasn't gotten a lot of production out of well-compensated folks like Darcy Tucker, who racked up just eight goals and eight assists in 63 games played in 2008-2009.

Then again, Giguere hasn't exactly been given free rein of the Avs. From the beginning of his GM stint, he's been perceived as an errand-runner for team president Pierre Lacroix, much as Russian president Dmitry Medvedev is seen as an extension of former head man Vladimir Putin. At this point in his career, Lacroix doesn't want the GM's duties, which is why he's handling them on an interim basis only. But in all likelihood, he's every bit as responsible for the Avs' sorry fiscal situation as is Giguere. However, he's in the fortunate position of having someone else to blame. And if things continue to go south, he can buy himself more time by lowering the boom on Granato. That's another reason why it's nice to be the boss.

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