Marc Crawford, the second-year head coach of the Zurich (ZSC) Lions in the Swiss National League A, has kept an eye on his former goalkeeper Patrick Roy and his start behind the Colorado Avalanche bench.
Marc Crawford has been impressed, but not surprised with the early-season success of rookie Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy.
Crawford, the second-year head coach of the Zurich (ZSC) Lions in the Swiss National League A, has kept an eye on his former goalkeeper from abroad. The Avalanche have reeled off three wins in a row to begin the season.
"Patrick was truly one of the smartest, most instinctive players I have ever had," said Crawford, who won the 1995-96 Stanley Cup with Roy in goal. "He knew more about winning and what it took to win than anybody else I've ever coached. For this reason I am not surprised that he is such a good coach.
"He has worked at his craft and he has learned along the way and I must say he will continue to learn on the job. In the end, as a head coach, you are paid to make decisions. It's Patrick's instincts that give him the confidence to act quickly. He won't always be perfect, but he will never be guilty of waiting too long or doing nothing."
In some circles, the 48-year-old Roy was guilty of exhibiting too much emotion at the end of his first career victory at home, a 6-1 decision against the Anaheim Ducks last week.
Roy exchanged heated words with Ducks sniper Corey Perry and then turned his attention to Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau. Roy pushed the glass partition that separated the benches twice in the direction of Boudreau.
The rookie coach was fined $10,000 US for his actions. Boudreau criticized Roy for taunting the Anaheim players. Roy already was annoyed after a knee-on-knee collision between Ducks defenceman Ben Lovejoy and Colorado rookie Nathan MacKinnon late in the third period.
Crawford, who was no stranger to emotional outbursts behind the bench earlier in his career, did not have a problem with Roy's tantrum.
"I think, for him, it's good to show his emotions," Crawford said. "That's who he is. He crossed the line that night, but he's going to learn how far he can go.
"I'm sure he had a good conversation with [NHL senior vice president] Colin Campbell about the incident. I've had that conversation with Colie before."
Ready or not
After Roy retired from his playing career in 2003, he never sought out coaching advice from Crawford. But the pair did have a couple of conversations in which they talked strategy. The second time was three years ago, at the 15-year reunion of the 2005-06 Stanley Cup-winning Avalanche team.
It was apparent to Crawford then that Roy already was a good head coach and that he had a future in the NHL as a bench boss, breaking the old adage that great players can't become good coaches.
"I think some of these better players are seeing that coaching is a pretty good and rewarding career, and that the money is good, too," Crawford said. "You used to be on your own a lot more. Now you have more help around you and it's about learning and getting as much knowledge from those around you.
"Like I said, Patrick has worked hard at his craft. Randy [Carlyle] has worked hard at his craft. Adam [Oates] has worked hard at his craft."
Crawford believes that Roy was right to spend a decade away from the NHL, in which he coached eight seasons of junior and won a Memorial Cup with the 2005-06 Quebec Remparts. In all but one season with Roy at the helm, the Remparts advanced past the first round of the playoffs.
"He's not just a great junior coach, he's a good coach, period," Crawford said. "I don't know what the right amount of time is for a player to separate himself from his NHL playing days, but Patrick has had a nice progression. He's already admitted that he probably wasn't ready for a coaching job in the NHL three years ago."
So how have Crawford and Zurich been getting on this season? After 10 games, the Lions sit in fourth place following a tough 4-3 loss to league-leading Davos earlier this week.
You may recognize some of the players on Crawford's roster. Former NHLers include: Guillaume Latendresse (Ste-Catherine, Que.), Ryan Keller (Saskatoon), Marc-Andre Bergeron (Trois-Rivieres, Que.) and Steve McCarthy (Trail, B.C.), currently out with a shoulder injury, as well as Ryan Shannon and Roman Wick.
Tim WharnsbyTim's worked the sports beat at The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Sun, specializing in Canada's one true sporting obsession - hockey. He knows the players, the coaches, the backroom boys and most importantly, the fans. That's what he brings to his stories. Knowledge, fairness and understanding are trademarks of a Wharnsby story. That's what you will get here as he writes for CBCSports.ca.