Recently Patrick Roy committed the NHL equivalent of coaching suicide.
His sudden and unexpected announcement that he was resigning as head coach and vice-president of hockey operations for the Colorado Avalanche rocked the hockey world. To add salt to the wound Roy went on to state in his press release how his “conditions currently are not met” when talking about what his team input should be. He had one year remaining on his contract.
It is fair to say that Roy will likely never coach or hold an executive role in the NHL again. With mere weeks to go before training camps begin, the Avalanche are now tasked with finding a head coach on short notice.
The trouble with this is the new coach will have very little time to mesh with team philosophy, get to know the players and develop a system of success before camp begins. This provides Avalanche president Joe Sakic almost zero time to perform a proper search and interview process.
It is a rarity for an NHL coach to leave a team prior to the end of a contract. Unless there are unforeseen circumstances like health or family it pretty much never happens. NHL great Larry Robinson did it for stress related health reasons. He has since returned to the NHL. A coach leaving for selfish reasons like Roy are tagged as quitters. To leave a team short handed so close to training camp is unforgivable. The Avalanche will ride out this bump and may have a better season without Roy behind the bench.
Roy brought with him baggage. He also quit on his Montreal team that brought on a trade to the Avalanche during his playing days. He was a winning goalie and played a large role in winning four Stanley Cups. He was unable to convert the winning reputation to a pedigreed NHL coach or executive. He never gave himself a chance to be successful behind the bench.
Roy’s selfish behaviour has been well documented throughout the years and this latest episode is no different. Patrick Roy marches to the beat of his own drum.
Prior to dismantling a perennially losing team Brendan Shanahan spent a year evaluating the Leafs organization from top to bottom. One identifiable trait missing was team. Each hiring or trade since the scorched earth has been about team.
For the first time in decades there is a clear direction and stability. There is little fear of losing key management pieces abruptly. Kyle Dubas even stated that he was not ready to become a GM when rumours surfaced of being a candidate for the Coyotes GM position. The Maple Leafs appear to be stable.
With all due respect to Joe Sakic, hiring Roy was a mistake. There is a revolution of management style happening at the NHL level. Decision by committee seems to be the new norm. Despite appearances, Patrick Roy did the Avalanche a favour.
Two rebuilding teams with contrasting styles. Time will tell which team fares better but judging from recent history . . . money is on the Leafs. Discuss among yourselves.