Patrick Roy shocked a number of people when he resigned as coach of the Colorado Avalanche – including some of his former players.
In a move that surprised many, Patrick Roy stepped down as head coach and vice president of hockey operations for the Colorado Avalanche on Aug. 11. As a former goalkeeper for the Montreal Canadiens and the Avalanche, Roy led a lack of input in hiring decisions as his reason to end his three-year stint at the bank.
Jared Bednar, who recently coached the American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters and led them to the Calder Cup, was named their new head coach on August 25.
Known as a player-coach, Roy has come under fire from his critics. He was often described as being too relaxed and soft in his coaching style, which didn’t give his team a chance to reach their potential. During Roy’s tenure with the Avs, the organization’s score rose from 112 in the 2013-14 season to 82 in the 2015-16 season. As a result, they failed to qualify for the playoffs for the last two seasons after winning the Central Division in Roy’s first season with the team.
But it seems that many of his former players loved to play for him and were shocked to see him leave.
Matt Duchene spoke to Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun on Wednesday and set the record for his and Roy’s relationship. There has been speculation that after Duchenes goal celebration during a game against the St. Louis Blues, which the Avalanche lost 5-1, there were problems between Roy and the striker. Roy had criticized Duchene in the media and said at the time: “Are you kidding me? What’s this? It’s not the (reaction) we want our boys to be. Not at all.”
“I just had an injury,” Duchene told the Sun. “That evening there were a lot of emotions about the game. Just a brief moment of excitement. I didn’t even register that it was my 30th on my mind. I responded and immediately felt terrible knowing what it looked like. It didn’t look like I meant it to be. He beat me up in the media about it.
“At the end of the day there was nothing against me. He was just trying to set a precedent for the team and set an example for me. He expected me to be a leader and in that moment I let him down. We had a great chat the next day and then everything was fine. It was disproportionately blown up in the media. After that it was really nothing. “
Roy’s demolition at Duchene’s goal celebration resulted in a lot of unjustified bullshit from members of the hockey community. Given the less-than-stellar season the Avalanche has had up to that point, it was understandable that the head coach would get frustrated with one of the players he believes is a front runner celebrating a goal in a game the team eventually lost would be.
Even so, the media tends to delve into the sensational news, which doesn’t make their response to the incident in the least surprising. The fact that Duchene cleared up the incident proves what a lot of people thought – that it wasn’t as big a deal as it turned out to be.
Also touching on the call he received from Roy shortly after the news of the former coach’s resignation broke, Duchene said he appreciated that Roy reached out to him directly and that it showed him what Roy was up to held him as a player and person.
“I learned a lot from him,” said Duchene. “He said he enjoyed coaching me. It was great to hear from one of my heroes as a kid. That’s the end of this chapter, and it ended on a great note for him and me. There were never any problems there. “
At the 19th Joe Sakic Celebrity Classic at Sanctuary Golf Course, Denver Post’s Mike Chambers caught up with Blake Comeau before teeing off. “I enjoyed playing for Patty,” he said. “I thought he was fair, held everyone accountable, and of a high standard.”
Perhaps goalkeeper Semyon Varlamov was the closest player to Patrick Roy who had no idea Roy was unhappy and planned to leave the team.
“It was a shock for all of us – for the team, for the entire organization,” Varlamov told NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti. Varlamov is currently in St. Petersburg, Russia, training with Team Russia in preparation for the World Hockey Championship.
“I really enjoyed working with Patrick,” said Varlamov. “It was a big deal for me to have him as head coach. He was very helpful. As a goalkeeper, I’m very fortunate to have him and Francois Allaire as goalkeeping coaches. I feel like I have two goalkeeping coaches on the team, which has been very helpful for me. “
Varlamov did not have a strong 2015/16 season. Varlamov finished 46th out of 74 active goalkeepers with a saving of 0.914 percent and lagged behind the results of a starting goalkeeper. With a new season on the horizon, the Avalanche needs to better focus some of their attention on the goal.
The advantage of having “two goalkeeping coaches” is not unfounded, but it might be worthwhile to start Calvin Pickard a little more this season. The avalanche brought the young goalkeeper into play when irreversible damage was already being done in a given game and while he excelled in those games, he also shone in games he started in. Hopefully the combination of Varlamov and Pickard along with some fresh eyes in the form of Bednar will make the goalkeeping game one of the Avs’ strengths this season.
While the players on the Avalanche team might miss Roy, who excelled as a player-coach, the effectiveness of his partnership with the players declined significantly. Bednar will hopefully bring discipline, accountability and stability to the young Avalanche team that has stalled in recent years. Perhaps they just needed a different form of guidance than the one they received to have an excellent and less frustrating 2016-17 season.