The loss is devastating for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who had been playing well (14-4-5-0 over their last 23 games through Sunday) after a miserable start. Forsberg would most likely have centered a potent second unit, between Chris Drury and Steve Reinprecht, giving Colorado two consistent scoring lines and taking pressure off its No. 1 line. The top trio of Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk and Alex Tanguay had accounted for 31.9% of the Avalanche's goals at week's end.
Lacroix, who has gained a reputation for pulling off blockbuster deals, may need to troll for another center—the Devils' Jason Arnott and Bobby Holik may be available—but whoever is brought in is unlikely to match the production of Forsberg, who has averaged 1.2 points per game over his seven-year NHL career.
"We're doing everything to improve, but nobody's trying to help us," Lacroix says. "This team has been through adversity in the past, and each player has to do more to pull us through. This is a team of professionals, and I anticipate they will react that way."