Three years ago, Colorado Avalanche president Pierre Lacroix thought Patrick Roy was ready for an NHL job. At the time, reports indicated Roy turned down the opportunity because he wasn't comfortable with the decision-making power he would (or wouldn't) have.
Apparently, that's not the case.
"Honestly, I don't think it ever got that far," one of Roy's friends said last week. "He just wasn't ready to leave Quebec City. That's where his home is, that's where his family is. He is comfortable there."
In February 2011, we went to Colisee Pepsi to do an interview with Roy. It centred on the 1986 and 1989 Canadiens/Flames Stanley Cup Finals, but, off-camera, we asked him about eventually going to the NHL.
I'm paraphrasing his response, which was an absolute classic: I was thinking about it, but was golfing one day and thought how good I have it. I asked my owner if he was happy with me and he said yes. I asked my GM if he was happy with me and he said yes. (Roy, of course, is both.)
But, is it time for the NHL now?
"Yes, he's ready for that," said the above friend. (No one would agree to be quoted on the record). "He still has his passion and loves challenges. It's not time for him to die on the golf course."
Roy's Quebec Remparts are out of the Quebec League playoffs after a stunning collapse against the Halifax Mooseheads. The Remparts blew a 3-0 series lead and lost Game 7 5-4 in overtime on home ice. Knowing his legendary competitive fire, Roy will need a few days to decompress from that disappointment.Contact coming
But he knows contact is coming -- from Geoffrey Molson and Serge Savard.
Roy is the "X-Factor" in Montreal's hockey operations rebuild. With the passing of each season, his role in the team's last two Stanley Cups becomes a more romantic memory, while his painful departure fades from consciousness. On the night of the Canadiens' 100th anniversary celebration, he led the legends on to the ice and received a huge applause.
"They have to call him," said one executive.
They certainly can't ignore him, especially if, at some point, Quebec City gets a team and he goes there.
Even though Frederick, the youngest of his two boys, is now finished his QMJHL career, those who know Patrick say it is unlikely he would go too far away from them or their younger sister.
But, Montreal is an easy drive from the provincial capital. And, now that Savard is involved, it's believed his interest in joining the Canadiens increased.
"Going there would definitely interest him. He thrives on challenges," said the above friend. "Winning one or two Stanley Cups was not enough for him; he wanted more. And, when the Avalanche traded for Ray Bourque, it became his mission to win another one."
Savard told The Montreal Gazette in January he thought Roy would coach the Canadiens under "certain conditions," although he did not elaborate. And, despite this month's playoff meltdown, Roy is considered very good on the bench.
Those who know him well say he loves coaching more than managing. During that aforementioned interview last season, we talked about Peter Forsberg, who had just retired. Roy explained how much you miss the competition, then added, "Thank God I have [coaching] to replace that."Comparing notes
According to another friend, Roy is constantly in contact with several coaches he respects. He asks questions about what they do, and compares notes with what he's done. That list includes Bob Hartley, Claude Julien and Benoit Groulx, head coach and GM of the Gatineau Olympiques.
However, not everyone is convinced this is a good idea. Guy Lafleur recently said the better position would be GM, because Roy's emotion and frankness would lead to problems, especially after a loss.
"That is certainly true," said one NHL executive. "If you're going to bring him to Montreal, you must make certain to have strong people around him...people he respects. Roy's personality makes it inevitable that there will be blow-ups, but you can eliminate some by surrounding him with people who can control his emotion."
When Savard talks about "certain conditions," that's probably one of the things he's referring to. If Roy wants to coach (or accept any other position there) structure will be critical.
What kind of timeline are we talking about here? In 2009, it took Roy 10-15 days after being contacted by the Avalanche to turn them down.
"He keeps things pretty close," says another friend. "He won't tell a lot of people what he's thinking. Jacques Tanguay [Remparts co-owner] and Claude Rousseau [team president] will be on that very short list. He's very loyal to them."
Do you think he's coaching Montreal next year?
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