DENVER (AP) -Now that John-Michael Liles has security and riches from his new contract, he'd love the comfort of knowing Joe Sakic will also be returning to the Colorado Avalanche.
So does general manager Francois Giguere.
The Avalanche are about to enter free agency not knowing if their captain who made nearly $7 million last season will return for a 20th season in the NHL or hang up his skates and start the countdown on his Hall of Fame induction.
Giguere, who said he last spoke to Sakic three weeks ago, isn't going to bug him for an answer but will await his call.
``The feeling I got from Joe is he needs more time. I think it's in our interests to give him the time. I think he's earned the time to make that decision and come to a place where he's 100 percent comfortable with that decision, either way,'' Giguere said.
``Because I think if he comes back and he's not 100 percent committed, then it's going to regret it. And if he leans toward retirement and he's not 100 percent committed, then he'll regret that, too. So, I want him to make the best decision.''
Sakic called Liles on Monday morning to commend him on his new four-year, $16 million contract.
``He just called to say congrats to me and I definitely gave him my sense that it would be great to have him back,'' Liles said. ``But you know what, it's totally up to Joe and his family. He's been in this league a long time. He's given this organization a lot of fantastic years and a couple of championships.
``It would be great to have him back but ... this organization has always been committed to winning and it will be tough to lose somebody like him, but at the same time I think that we've got a lot of great pieces in place to continue that.''
Putting together this jigsaw puzzle is Giguere, who also signed veteran defenseman Adam Foote to a two-year, $6 million deal on the eve of free agency, which begins Tuesday.
On Monday, Giguere revealed his contingency plan should Sakic opt for a gold watch instead of pursuing a third championship ring: He said he would more than likely move winger Wojtek Wolski to center and count on Foote and Liles, among others, to pick up the leadership mantle.
Sakic, along with goaltender Jose Theodore and forwards Peter Forsberg and Andrew Brunette, are the biggest names among the nine Avalanche players set to become unrestricted free agents Tuesday.
Sakic made $6.75 million last season and his indecision about his future is forcing Giguere to enter free agency unsure exactly how much wiggle room he'll have under the $56.7 million salary cap to pursue veterans from his own team and others.
``We're going to prepare ourselves to ice the best team possible with the hope that sometime in the upcoming weeks or months that he'll decide to come back,'' Giguere said. ``But if he doesn't, we're going to be prepared for that eventuality, also.''
Giguere insisted Sakic's uncertainty doesn't hamstring the Avs in free agency.
``Part of what in some ways is fortunate for us is if you look at this free agent class, I don't think there's as much quality, top-end guys as in past years,'' Giguere said. ``There's going to be very few guys in the market and there's going to be a feeding frenzy for those few guys.''
Last year, Giguere made a splash in free agency, signing winger Ryan Smyth and defenseman Scott Hannon to a combined $49.25 million.
``My feeling is we won't be really, really active like we were last year when we signed two of the top guys,'' Giguere said.
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