When Patrick Roy was announced as the Colorado Avalanche head coach and Vice President of Hockey Operations, May 23, 2013, the Avalanche fans were beyond excited. The legend that captured the NHL record for most wins by a goaltender, while driving the team to the 2001 Stanley Cup championship and whose number, “33”, was immortalized in the rafters of the Pepsi Center, was coming back. After coaching in the QMJHL, it was apparent that his fiery nature between the pipes had followed him to the bench.
Coach Roy’s first game behind the bench for the Avalanche was as amazing as everyone hoped. The team won 6-1 over the the Anaheim Ducks. When a last minute questionable hit happened against his number one overall pick, (Nathan MacKinnon), Roy’s response was fast and furious. He immediately began yelling at the players on the Ducks bench, which then shifted from players to then Duck head coach, Bruce Boudreau. As the two coaches yelled through the glass partition, Roy took it to the next level by shoving the partition. This caused the glass to break off it’s brackets towards Bruce Boudreau, and Roy had to be physically restrained by his coaching staff. This fire lasted for the entire 2013 season, leading the Colorado Avalanche to a division title and the playoffs. Unfortunately, for the Avalanche, they were out after the first round, losing to the Minnesota Wild in 7 games.
Since the 2013 season the Avalanche have failed to make the playoffs, in both 2014 and 2015. That being said, the Central Division, is statistically the toughest division in the NHL. The team has had to rely on goaltender, Semyon Varlamov ridiculously due to sub par defense and a streaky high scoring offense over the last two seasons.
Why have the Avalanche not had much success following a great run in 2013? Why has the defense not really been addressed? Where is the fire we saw early on? What is going on behind the scenes? Well, today we got some answers. Not the answers you expect but answers non the less.
Weeks out from training camp Patrick Roy called a press conference and blind sided everyone by announcing his resignation, effective immediately. In his statement to the media Roy said, “my vision and the organizations vision for the future must be aligned perfectly”. Roy also said the he, “needed to have a say in decisions that impacted the team’s performance”. It is clear now that things behind the scene were not as they appeared. Whether it was a communications issue or ongoing frustrations, this is the end result and there is a lot more than what we are being told.
Team Vice President and General Manager Joe Sakic released a statement after Roy’s press conference stating, “Patrick called me and informed me of his decision this morning. We [The Colorado Avalanche], are deeply appreciative of all that Patrick has done for us, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
Players were informed in different ways. Defenseman Erik Johnson said he skated off the ice after practice and saw that he had missed multiple calls from Roy. He said his initial thought was that he was being traded. After calling Roy, Johnson said, he was told that he was leaving the team and would not elaborate more than to say, “it’s time that the team’s and I go
our separate ways”. Other players found out following the press conference and all seem to be extremely upset and shocked by the news.
Now the question is who will replace Roy on the bench, and how quickly can that decision be made? There are still some strong coaching candidates out there on the market. However, with the player free agent market thin as it is, any coach coming in will be adopting Roy’s team. All eyes in the mile high city will be quickly looking towards the Avalanche front office, to see the team’s next move, but more so for answers as to how it all went so wrong, and so fast for such a legend in the team’s history.