The Colorado Avalanche and new Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic are in search of a new coach. Hall-of-Fame Goaltender Patrick Roy, who won four Stanley Cups between the Avalanche and Montreal Canadiens, may be the perfect fit. With his name being thrown into the ring, would Roy thrive in his first NHL coaching job?
The Colorado Avalanche have a direct line to Patrick Roy, perhaps the only NHL team with that luxury. As a club in desperate need of a hero, the Avalanche must decide if they are willing to take the risk on an unstoppable force. The Avs cannot control Patrick Roy and this makes him a good choice for an organization looking to come out of a deep freeze in public relations. Roy will not follow a company line and blame his team’s losses on injuries, poor bounces and calls that did not go the team’s way. Patrick Roy will call people out, hold the organization accountable, and demand excellence.
Roy walked out on the most successful franchise in NHL history, the Montreal Canadiens, in a dispute over respect. Montreal is now 20 years removed from winning the Stanley Cup, easily their longest stretch, under what should be coined the “Curse of St. Patrick.” This is the same goalie who colorfully told Jeremy Roenick that he couldn’t hear the forward because he had two Stanley Cup rings in his ears. This is the Patrick Roy who motioned for his son to fight another goalie from behind the bench. He’s a man so superstitious and focused that an eye twitch is a signature characteristic. Roy made conversation partners out of goalposts.
Patrick Roy is an enabler behind the bench. The NHL does not have a character with the type A personality to match the former goalie. The New York Rangers John Tortorella and the Anaheim Ducks Bruce Boudreau grab occasional headlines, but hold very little clout. If Patrick Roy spoke, the NHL would listen.
NHL coaches are easily replaceable and largely lack a presence for fans to become attached. NHL videogames still often decide not to give a face to coaches and the carousel of new hires that greets every NHL offseason is sign of the instability in the job. Take the league’s greatest goalie and put him behind the bench, and things will change.
This becomes Roy’s appeal. He becomes part of the show. For an Avalanche team that still has a hard time speaking individual players names out loud in public, suddenly they would be dealing with the most famous coach. Fans would come to see a recognizable figure from the glory days in a new light. It would represent progress in the Avalanche acknowledging a shift in philosophy and a belief that a new direction could bring success.
Roy is that unbeaten path. He is the opposite of Joe Sacco, as he would be the first Avs coach without experience in the job at the minor league level. Where Sacco had a calm, “you can’t win them all” mentality, Roy has shown that winning is his only model for success. This would be a monumental shift in club philosophy, for young players Matt Duchene, Gabe Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly, have only been treated to the softer side of coaching in the NHL.
Along these lines, Roy’s had success as a coach, winning a championship with the junior Quebec Remparts in his first season. A mellower Roy has stayed out of the headlines in recent years and even picked up a radio show. This slightly more stable Roy has a shot at being an NHL coach. Perhaps reunited with the man most responsible for winning his last two Stanley Cups, Joe Sakic, Roy can shine in a new role. Fans may not believe that Roy can coach, but those with similar experience have been given a shot.
The worst-case scenario is that the Sakic-Roy tandem fails to get the Avalanche off the ground. This second career opportunity for both men could ruin what is left of the golden image of the Avs glory days. However, the only thing that remains from the glory days in the organization is an elitist attitude. If this club wants to be great again, they have to take risks, and putting their two most famous faces on the line is a huge gamble. It’s a bet that could reap championships
Bring on Patrick Roy. The Avalanche can lure in fans with the shiny new coach and make them stay for the young talent the Avs keep promising. Colorado is a couple of years away from being a legitimate contender. This is the coaching hire they are allowed to miss on. This is the time to make a statement. This is the time for a coach who will walk in with four more Stanley Cup rings than any Avs personnel has without his help.
Plus he misses talking to the goal posts at the Pepsi Center.