Sunday, May 11, 2008

Patrick Roy to Coach the Colorado Avalanche?

The speculation began even before Quenneville was let go. With Patrick Roy having begun a coaching career, everyone wondered if Roy would ever coach the Colorado Avalanche.

Now that Quenneville is gone, the speculation starts in earnest as the two most common names being bandied about are renowned 3-time Jack Adams award winning and Stanley Cup winning coach Pat Burns along with one of the most famous - or infamous - goaltenders of all time, Patrick Roy.

But not only did St. Patrick grow infamous as a goaltender with a penchant for the dramatic and the ability to get in players heads, he has grown infamous behind the bench of the Quebec Remparts.

In his first year coaching the Remparts, Roy led the team to a Memorial Cup championship. It was only the 7th time that a rookie coach has won the Memorial Cup. I was in Quebec the day the team paraded down the streets and you could feel a sense of aura around the team and Patrick. It's an aura that seems to follow him around like a shadow.

However that aura quickly turned dark the following year as Roy was involved in two incidents which reminded everyone of his quick and fiery temper. Following a game against rival Chicoutimi, a group of Chicoutimi fans swarmed the Remparts bus. Roy got out and in the scuffle was alleged to have struck Chicoutimi co-owner Pierre Cardinal.

Roy stayed on as coach, the media firestorm subsided and the Remparts marched on to the playoffs. Then during a 10-1 beat down at the hands of Chicoutimi, a brawl broke out which saw goaltender Jonathon Roy, Patrick's son, fly down the ice and attack Chicoutimi's goaltender, who was not even close to a willing participant. Shortly after the scuffle was broken up, Jonathon flipped off the Chicoutimi crowd.

Why does this reflect poorly on Patrick? Well, it would appear he urged his son on. Watch closely after the ref initially restrains Roy and you'll see Patrick make a gesture to the effect of "Get the F down there!" The result was a 5-game suspension for the elder Roy and 7 games for junior.

Francois Giguere has gone on the record stating the next coach for the Avalanche must be willing to play a high-tempo, puck possession game. It will also need to be someone who will hold players accountable for mistakes and not be so easy-going.*

He has said nothing to the effect of wanting a hot-tempered coach that will need to be handled with kid gloves lest he destroy another office.

*That last part was stated on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada last night and I couldn't find a clip to share.

Related Links
Roy knows the way to the top
Who's next for the Avalanche
Speculation on Avs successor already under way
Roy coaches Quebec Remparts to Memorial Cup
Arena fight puts police onto Patrick Roy
Patrick Roy and son suspended for on-ice brawl
Avalanche, Quenneville mutually part ways
Patrick Roy and son (with story on Hartley office trashing)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sad Day in Avalanche Fandom

After last night's shellacking, there are a lot of sad and angry people in the Avalanche fandom. Can you be sad and angry at the same time? You bet. Hell, I'm sad, angry, embarrassed and a little thirsty, all at the same time.

Over at MHH, Joe and Mike have weighed in on who should stay and who should go. Some interesting lists for sure. It appears that most fans have decided that it's time for the Avalanche to becoming sellers and declare this season's Stanley Cup dreams as nothing more than high fantasy. But will the organization see it the same way?

The Avalanche are currently in 10th place in the Northwest but a win against Detroit last night would have catapulted them into 7th. So the playoffs are still within view even though the horizon is stretching farther away. At the moment, the Avalanche have a 40% shot of making the playoffs. And don't forget the most important part, every significant percentage point left to be gained rests at the hands of the Avalanche, not at their opponents. So the old cliche of "They hold their destiny in their hands" is as apt as it ever will be.

The only trouble with the idea of gutting it out and fighting for a playoff spot with the belief that "this squad can do it!" is that it reminds me a lot of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs are a team that has been mired in mediocrity for many seasons and the main reason - I think - is that the organization defines success simply as making the playoffs. In other words, selling more tickets, beer and hot dogs. So if there is an outside shot at getting into the playoffs, the Leafs won't bother selling any significant assets to build for the future.

This makes them a perpetual bubble team as they just replace a few spare parts here and there for a playoff run rather than rebuilding their roster for a Cup run down the line and I fear the same is happening with the Avalanche. Of course it's only been one year that the Avalanche have missed the playoffs and they've got 2 Stanley Cups in the past 12 years to go along with that so they're a long way from becoming like the Leafs. But the warning signs are popping up.

Francois Giguere needs to make a long-term decision very quickly and I think the right choice is to sell a few assets with an eye for the future. I don't want him to gut the team but there are some expendable players (Brunette, Arnason, Skrastins, Theodore) who could bring some returns if packaged together with some other players (Liles, Svatos, Clark, Budaj) and prospects (Williams, Stoa, Galiardi). And of course my feelings on the coaching staff have been made clear. If changes don't happen there, the roster changes are a moot point.

And don't forget, becoming a seller doesn't immediately count a team out of the playoff hunt. We witnessed what a squad absent their three top dogs and filled with minor leaguers could do and it made us proud.

And frankly that's all I want from this team. The feeling of pride from being a fan of the Avalanche.