I am, of course, talking about the hiring of Avalanche heroes Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy. Sakic was hired two weeks ago as the team’s new executive vice president of hockey operations. Roy was just hired as the Avs head coach and vice president of hockey operations. For a team that’s been one of the worst teams in the entire National Hockey League over the past few years, there’s nothing like a big coaching hire to make a splash and bring the team back into the national conversation.
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s been awhile since I’ve watched an entire Avs game, partly because I am tired of the price-gouging required to actually watch the Avalanche on cable at home, and partly because the Avs have sucked for quite a while. And partly because I lost interest in hockey, or almost forgot about hockey, after its most recent player dispute. Either way, I haven’t been that interested in following the Avalanche closely.
A fair-weather hockey fan? Yes, you could say that, but I am a fair-weather hockey fan who’s ready to jump on the Avs bandwagon any time. And with the hiring of Patrick Roy as head coach, I think the time to jump on that bandwagon is right now.
I am not going to sit here and tell you what a brilliant hire this is. I am not going to pretend that I know the first thing about the coaching qualities needed to run a successful team in the NHL. I don’t have the first clue. So will Roy be a coach who can bring the Avalanche back to winning dominance in the NHL? I have no idea. What I do know is that it will be more than interesting to watch.
We all know that Roy lives and breathes hockey. We know he’s an intense competitor. He’s the first hall of famer to take a head coaching job in the NHL. He’s a proven winner. He’s also got a colorful past. Besides blowing up at coaches during his career, he was famous for his fights at center ice against Detroit Red Wings goaltenders Mike Vernon and Chris Osgood.
According to The Denver Post, Roy has had a couple of temper-instigated brushes with the law, including a domestic dispute with his ex-wife (where the charges were ultimately dropped) and an altercation with a Colorado Springs DJ at a team party that was settled out of court eventually.
When Bob Hartley was coaching the Avs, Roy blew up and smashed video equipment in Hartley’s office after he was pulled from a game. As a coach for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Roy was fined $4,000 and suspended for five games for ordering his steel- fisted son, Jonathan, to fight the opposing goalie after a playoff game.
Roy is a winner, a fighter and really, really intense. The Colorado Avalanche, with Roy at the helm, have entered into a new era of hockey intensity.
“It wasn’t enough to be just good. With Patrick, you had to be the best or else,” Dave Reid told The Denver Post. Reid was a teammate from 1999-2000. “I remember when I first came to the Avs, Patrick and Footer drove me home from the airport. And I’m sitting there thinking, ‘This is a pretty sweet setup here. I’m coming to a great team.’ And the whole 45-minute drive back from DIA to downtown, all they kept talking about was ‘We need this, we need that. We’re not going to be the best until so and so happens.’ I just thought, ‘Wow, these guys, Patrick especially, they’re pretty intense.’”
“I think he’s going to be great,” Claude Lemieux told The Post. “Patrick Roy will adapt to any situation and make it a winner. He’s paid his dues in Quebec and knows how to deal with players as a coach. Especially with Colorado being such a young team, he’ll work well with the young players.”
With Roy now leading the Avalanche alongside Sakic, I now have an interest in watching them again. I don’t know a single one of the Avalanche players right now but I do know the head coach. Hell, the coaching move has actually got me considering upping my cable subscription. I am ready to like the Avalanche again. It’s a brilliant coaching hire because it generates buzz. It’s a concept that I believe is an underestimated concept in professional sports.
For instance, I can’t understand why the Jacksonville Jaguars refuse to acquire Tim Tebow. If there is a professional sports team that needs a new buzz, it’s the Jaguars. Nobody shows up at their games, because they aren’t any good. So while getting Tim Tebow to be your quarterback may not make the best football sense, to me it makes perfect business sense. By simply acquiring Tebow, the stands would fill immediately. There would be a new buzz surrounding the team. Would they win with Tebow? Who knows? Probably not. Would everyone around the country watch to see what happens? Absolutely. Win or lose, Tim Tebow would make the Jaguars relevant again.
That, I believe, is what’s happening in Colorado. Will Roy make a brilliant coach? Maybe. Will we all be watching to see what happens with Roy running the show? Absolutely. Win or lose, the Colorado Avalanche, along with its new head coach Patrick Roy, are relevant again.