Patrick Roy announced his resignation as head coach and vice president of hockey operations of the Colorado Avalanche Thursday. According to Avalanche vice president and general manager Joe Sakic, the search for a replacement coach will begin immediately.
Roy released a statement explaining his surprising decision.
“I have thought long and hard over the course of the summer about how I might improve this team to give it the depth it needs and bring it to a higher level. To achieve this, the vision of the coach and VP-Hockey Operations needs to be perfectly aligned with that of the organization. He must also have a say in the decisions that impact the team’s performance. These conditions are not currently met.
“Today, I am informing you of my decision to leave the Colorado Avalanche organization. Though it saddens me, I have put much thought about this decision in recent weeks and have come to be fully comfortable with it.”
It seems as though there was a clear disconnect between Roy’s vision for the team and the organization’s gameplan. The fact that he made this announcement in the middle of August puts Sakic and Colorado in a difficult position, especially with the World Cup set for September 17. Either way, his decision to resign is certainly a surprising one.
Many believed Roy’s time in Colorado was running out unless he was able to turn things around. In his first year he led the Avs to the playoffs in a very successful season; he even won the Jack Adams Award as best NHL coach that year. However, the team has missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. Roy went 130-92-24 in his three seasons behind the bench.
In his relatively short NHL coaching career, Roy made at least one lasting impression on the game. He changed the trend of when coaches pull the goalie when a team is trailing in the third period. It is now the norm for goalies to be pulled much earlier in the third thanks to Roy’s gutsy decisions.
Roy was a fiery coach, which was reminiscent of the way he played as one of the best goaltenders of all time. His 551 wins and 1,029 games played are second only to Martin Brodeur (691, 1,266). It remains to be seen whether he will seek a coaching position with another NHL club. He could potentially return to Montreal, where he spent most of his career.
Though Roy made certain disputes with players a matter of public record, many of the current Avs will miss playing for him.
Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson was disappointed when he heard the news.
“I had a bunch of phone calls right after the news broke from different guys and everyone was super upset because of how much we loved playing for Patty and it’s going to be tough for sure, it’s going to be an adjustment,” Johnson said in an interview on Altitude Sports Radio 950 in Denver. “At the end of the day, the players have to be [upset] at themselves. I mean, I’m mad at myself; I’m sure there are a ton of guys that are mad at themselves because if we played better and won, this wouldn’t be happening.”
The real aspect of Roy’s unforeseen resignation that is truly stunning is the timing of the announcement. If Roy was seriously considering stepping down, he could have given the Avs more time to hit the reset button and find a new coach before training camp and the World Cup.
However, at least on the surface, Roy is leaving on good terms.
“Patrick informed me of his decision today,” Sakic said. “We appreciate all he has done for our organization and wish him the best of luck in the future.”
Roy, who won two Stanley Cups with Sakic and the Avalanche in 1996 and 2001, expressed similar sentiment in his statement.
“I am grateful to the Colorado Avalanche organization, with which I remain in good terms, for letting me lead this great team. I thank all the players I have had the pleasure of coaching and the fans for their unwavering, unconditional support. I remain forever loyal to the Avalanche with which I played 478 games, coached another 253, and won two Stanley Cups.”
The Avalanche have had a relatively quiet summer, most recently re-signing defenseman Tyson Barrie to a four-year, $22 million contract. Sakic hired Roy just two weeks after he became the vice president and general manager of the organization. It will be interesting to see what type of coach Sakic will target for this upcoming season and beyond.
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