Some of the most fascinating stories in the NHL are those that almost happen.
In 2017 the Avalanche had just finished the worst season the NHL had seen in nearly two decades, recording 22 wins and 48 points. With questions surrounding general manager Joe Sakic’s job, the Avs reportedly sought permission from the Toronto Maple Leafs to talk to then assistant GM Kyle Dubas. The permission was granted but rescinded shortly thereafter, and Dubas was promoted to GM in Toronto 12 months later.
But that’s not the only current GM in the NHL to almost land the Avs’ job. Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving interviewed for that same position 11 years earlier.
In a recent interview with Sportsnet’s Hockey Central, Treliving told hosts Jeff Marek and Brian Burke that Colorado’s former GM Pierre Lacroix interviewed him in 2006 to succeed him.
“I was living in Phoenix and running the Central Hockey League at the time,” Treliving told Sportsnet. “Pierre contacted me. He was stepping down as the manager of the Colorado Avalanche and I went through the process with him and his owner.”
Lacroix ended up promoting his assistant, Francois Giguere. Treliving was hired in Phoenix as an assistant GM. He did not receive his first GM position in the NHL until 2014 when Burke hired him in Calgary.
“Francois ended up getting that job and it was coming out of the first lockout. It was 2006,” Treliving said. “They called me and said, ‘Going into the CBA discussions, Francois was here as the assistant GM and was really knowledgeable about the CBA so we’re going with him.’”
He added: “They made that decision. But Pierre was really good. There had been a management change in Phoenix. He called me a couple of days later and said he’s going to put a call in to (Coyotes GM) Don Maloney, who I didn’t know. I’d never met Don. He said he would tell him that I went through the process with Colorado and that Don is going to need an assistant. He was really gracious for doing that. Don called a couple of days later and I ended up getting hired to be the assistant manager for Don.”
Treliving spent eight years as the assistant in Phoenix before moving on to Calgary. He’s led the Flames to three playoff appearances, winning one round, in five seasons. Calgary currently holds the third spot in the Pacific Division.
In 2018-19 Calgary led the Western Conference, winning 50 games and recording 107 points. The Flames met the Avalanche, who had squeaked in as the second wild card, in the playoffs. Colorado dropped Game 1 before winning four straight to upset Calgary in five.
Treliving was extended six months later, moments before Calgary’s season opener at the Pepsi Center in October. He’s made numerous big trades, including the acquisitions of defenseman Noah Hanifin and forward Elias Lindholm from Carolina in 2018.
There’s no saying where the Avalanche could’ve gone with Treliving at the helm. In Giguere’s three seasons as GM, Colorado qualified for the playoffs once. Colorado fired Giguere at the conclusion of the 2008-09 season, the first of four times the Avalanche finished at the bottom of the Western Conference over the next nine seasons.