Au Revoir, Roy! Avalanche’s Patrick Roy Steps Off the Bench
Patrick Roy called it quits. Last Thursday, Roy stepped down as Colorado head coach and Vice President of Hockey Operations. While the decision and announcement was abrupt and untimely, as training camps are set to open in just over a month, I am not surprised by this at all.
Roy began coaching the Avalanche for the 2013-14 campaign, where the squad went 52-22-8, clinching the Central Division and coming in second place in a tough Western Conference. Roy also received the Jack Adams Award for best coach of the season. The Avs were bounced in the first round by the Minnesota Wild when Nino Neiderreiter buried one 5:02 into the first OT of Game 7 in Colorado. Even more disappointing, that night was the last night Coach Roy’s Avs would attend the postseason party.
The Avalanche spent its summer vacation by locking up key restricted free agents Tyson Barrie and Nathan MacKinnon. Despite his small stature for a defenseman (5’11”, 190 lbs.), Barrie is an incredible, young puck-mover. He is also a staple on the special teams, having almost half his point totals occur on the man-advantage and the kill this past season (49 total, 26 even-strength, 23 power play, and 2 short-handed). Nate MacKinnon boasts hands as quick and smooth as his feet on the ice, and yet his finesse doesn’t stop him from battling around the crease for loose pucks. He’s a guy who will utilize every inch on the ice to find ways to score or help his line mates do the same. Other “notable” signings this summer include forward Joe Colborne, and defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Patrick Wiercioch.
But the Avs also lost Mikkel Boedker. In today’s NHL, speed and handy finesse is king. This is without a doubt a tough loss for the Avalanche. So while two members of the young core were locked up long-term, Colorado did very little to try and actually improve a team who has only seen postseason action once since 2010.
In April 2016, Patrick Roy was very clear that in order to achieve the success of three seasons ago (and advancement in the playoffs), the Avs would have to make some serious moves this summer. Apparently, Joe Sakic had other plans, locking up Barrie four years and MacKinnon until the summer of 2023, spending right up to the cap ceiling.
The 50-year old Avalanche coach has decided the 82-game NHL season is too much time to spend on a team he feels he had little say in this summer. I know what Joe Sakic said – that Roy was consulted with every move made. I know what Roy said – that Roy wasn’t consulted with every move made.
Let’s face it, if the two best friends that anyone could have saw eye-to-eye, Roy would still be coach. Did Sakic believe the same team would magically come back this season as playoff contenders?
Anyone know what Einstein had to say about “insanity”?
So I don’t blame Roy for leaving. I know the controversial Roy has a reputation for being a hot-head in his playing and coaching careers, throwing tantrums, and even making impulsive and unorthodox moves as coach (like yanking the goalie with almost half the third period left to play). But from what both Roy and Sakic explained in their statements, Roy spent a large portion of the summer thinking about this decision (NHL.com).
The Avalanche is expected to announce a replacement behind the bench as soon as Tuesday.
Hopefully, for Sakic’s sake, he finds someone on the same page as him. At this point in the summer, the candidate pool is spread quite thin. The Avs’ AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, just hired Eric Veilleux, so it is unlikely he will be promoted to the NHL-level before he even starts out in the minors. There is also the Rampage’s assistant coach, Randy Ladouceur who has some experience as an assistant coach at the NHL level as well. However, Ladouceur might be more useful helping develop the young blue-liners in San Antonio rather than jumping to a head coaching position in the NHL. Ladouceur was head coach for the Oshawa Generals briefly, where he went 18-45-0-5. While it is unfair to evaluate his talents based on one season, I think he’s better off remaining an assistant coach for now.
More likely than not, I believe the Avalanche will bring back Bob Hartley, who was recently relieved from his duties as Calgary Flames’ head coach, just one year after winning the Jack Adams Award.
The Flames missed the playoffs in 2016, through no fault of Hartley. While we shouldn’t blame the goaltending situation that befell Stampede City, I’m going to go ahead and do just that, for the most part. Hartley led the Avalanche to their second Stanley Cup in 2001, a team that Joe Sakic captained and Patrick Roy was stationed in the crease for. Hartley seems like the perfect candidate for the head coaching position for the Avs – not only because he seems like the only candidate for the job at this point. He is familiar with the city and, of course, the man who would hire him, Joe Sakic. Sakic would need to obtain permission from the Flames organization to speak with Hartley as he is technically still under contract through the 2016-17 campaign. The same goes for anyone else currently under contract with another organization.
In the meantime, the clock is ticking, and we are that much closer to hockey season!