In May 2009, Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy turned down the chance to coach the Colorado Avalanche, the team he led to Stanley Cup championships in 1996 and 2001.
He told the Denver Post at the time that he wanted to stay close to his three kids, who ranged in age from 16 to 20, as they entered a key stage in their lives.
Clearly, four years has made a big difference for Roy, who this week accepted a head-coaching position along with the title of vice president of hockey operations with the Avalanche. He’ll be introduced at a news conference Tuesday in Colorado at 1:30 p.m. MT.
Roy, 47, will be leaving his native Quebec, where he has spent the past eight seasons as head coach and general manager of the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, who won the Memorial Cup (the Canadian junior hockey championship) in 2006.
Perhaps Roy feels more comfortable leaving his family now. Maybe he’s ready for a new challenge. Or feels he'd like to work with former teammate Joe Sakic, who recently was promoted to executive vice president of hockey operations. Or, he likes what he sees up and down the club’s roster and believes Colorado isn’t far away from being a Stanley Cup contender.
The Avalanche finished eighth in the Western Conference in the 2009-10 season and have since placed 14th, 11th and 15th among 15 teams.
Forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly were around in 2009 when Roy could have replaced Tony Granato behind the Avalanche bench (Joe Sacco accepted the job) but are more seasoned now. There’s also promising left-winger Gabriel Landeskog and defenceman Erik Johnson.
No. 1 draft pick
Colorado also has the first pick in next month’s entry draft, and could select defenceman Seth Jones, a Denver native, Halifax Mooseheads right-winger Nathan MacKinnon or trade down for multiple picks and prospects.
Roy, who has coached against MacKinnon the last two seasons in the "Q," will now have some say.
Colorado is a young team, which could play in Roy’s favour since he has experience coaching players in their late teens. But coaching twenty- and thirty-somethings at the NHL level is quite different.
"Patrick has a great hockey mind, is a tremendous coach and there is no one more passionate about this game. He will bring that winning attitude to our dressing room to help this young team grow," Sakic told reporters.
As of Monday morning, 61 per cent of the 1,300 respondents to a CBCSports.ca poll agreed Roy would be a good NHL coach.
In recent years, former NHL players such as Kevin Dineen, John MacLean and Randy Cunneyworth have had mixed results in their first seasons running an NHL bench.
Last spring, Dineen guided the Florida Panthers to their first playoff berth in 11 years with a 94-point season, while Randy Cunneyworth took over from the fired Jacques Martin in Montreal in December 2011 and had an 18-23-9 record in his first and only season as head coach.
Former New Jersey Devils forward John MacLean lasted just six months as their head coach, sent packing in December 2010 after posting a 9-22-2 mark.
Below is a list of recent NHL players and how they fared in their first season behind the bench.
|Kirk Muller||Carolina||2011-12||25-20-12||Didn't qualify|
|Randy Cunneyworth||Montreal||2011-12||18-23-9||Didn't qualify|
|John MacLean||New Jersey||2010-11||9-22-2||Didn't qualify|
|Rick Tocchet||Tampa Bay||2008-09||19-33-14||Didn't qualify|