DENVER — Bob Hartley led the Colorado Avalanche to four straight Western Conference finals and a Stanley Cup championship in 2001.

It wasn't enough to save his job.

Citing a slow start and a lack of passion in his team, Colorado general manager Pierre Lacroix fired Hartley on Wednesday after 4 1/2 seasons.

"We are an organization with very, very high expectations," Lacroix said. "We've done it every year that we've been in Denver and it's no different this season. It was obvious that the team is not showing any emotion, the team is not doing what it needs to do to fulfill these expectations, so I am convinced it was the right time."

Lacroix said assistant coach Tony Granato will take over as Colorado's permanent coach.