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The key name in the blood-letting/reorganization of the Colorado Avalanche is Eric Lacroix.

He is the 37-year-old son of Avalanche president Pierre Lacroix and he surfaced on Wednesday as the team's new director of hockey operations. Until recently, he was a scout with the Phoenix Coyotes and when he resigned that post there was a lot of speculation he would become the Avs' next GM.

But that job went to their long-time assistant GM, Greg Sherman after the elder Lacroix cleaned out what was left of his hockey department by firing head coach Tony Granato and his assistants. Francois Giguere, the former GM, was the first to get the boot when Pierre Lacroix dumped him after the Avalanche finished last in the NHL's Western Conference.

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It has been thought for several years that Eric Lacroix would one day succeed his father, who won two Stanley Cups as the Avs' GM. But Eric, who was a Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick and had an eight-year career as a checking winger for various NHL teams, is still a little thin on front-office experience at the NHL level.

His appointment as the Avs' director of hockey operations is the next step toward the GM's office. In the meantime, Sherman will get a chance to show he can jump from being the team's salary cap expert, where he operated in anonymity, to running the show.

Well, running the show might be a stretch since most people around the NHL think the autocratic Lacroix The Elder will be calling the shots.

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