Avs fire coach Sacco after last-place finish in West

The Colorado Avalanche missed the playoffs for a third consecutive season, leading to the dismissal of head coach Joe Sacco on Sunday.

The Avalanche finished the truncated campaign at the bottom of the Western Conference standings with a 16-25-7 record. Only the Florida Panthers (36) had fewer points the Colorado's 39.

"The organization believes a change of leadership behind the bench is needed going forward," said Avalanche general manager/executive vice president Greg Sherman. "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."

Sacco coached Colorado's American Hockey League club, the Lake Erie Monsters, for two years before being given his first NHL head coaching gig prior to the 2009-10 season.

The Avalanche enjoyed a remarkable turnaround in Sacco's first year behind the bench, going from last in the conference to eighth with a roster full of young talent.

However, the club saw its win total drop from 43 to 30 in 2010-11.

Last season, the Avalanche won 41 games and a late-season surge nearly resulted in them making the playoffs again.

Believing Sacco had the club moving in the right direction, management signed him to a two-year contract extension last April.

The team, however, regressed badly, and will own a top pick in the draft for the second time in three years.

Sacco finished with a 130-134-30 record.