And just as there was a recurring theme in the press conference to introduce Josh Kroenke's and Joe Sakic's new roles with the team, there was one with the introduction of Patrick Roy as the new coach. However, Patrick's message seemed to come more from the heart. He wants to give the people of Denver a team they can love again, and he wants the players to be closer to those supporting them in the arena. "My objective is to give the team back to the fans," the four-time Stanley Cup champion said. "Our fans are extremely important to me. I want to enjoy (the team) with the fans." Most importantly, he wants those who sacrifice their money, time, and emotions on the Avalanche to see players that are devoted to them.
One of the ways Roy will accomplish this is through accountability. He made it clear that his coaching style will be very simple: he wants players that work hard and enjoy playing the game. They will work hard every night and will have "a Stanley Cup attitude." In other words, every night will be focused on the goal of becoming Cup champions. He admitted that he hadn't paid as much attention to the team the last few years as people may have thought, but in his mind, the past is the past. This is a new era, one that he and Sakic will create together. "I think it's the perfect situation for both of us," he said. Part of that situation includes his role as VP of Hockey Operations.
He and Joe will share those duties, but ultimately, Joe is his boss. When finalizing the contract details, Joe told Patrick that he and Josh were comfortable with him being involved in making hockey decisions. The first one facing them is determining what they have with the team and what they need to improve. There will be "a lot of good discussions over the summer about what needs to change," Roy said. Obviously, one of those discussion points will be the draft.
When asked his thoughts on Nathan MacKinnon, the QMJHL star forward currently ranked #1 on the draft boards, Roy was ever the professional. He mentioned all three of the top prospects—MacKinnon, Seth Jones and Jonathan Drouin—and said they all will be huge players in the NHL. However, he said no decision had been made yet about which one the team would take. He also mentioned there was a possibility of moving the first pick. It's obvious this year's draft will be big for the Avalanche, and Roy's input will be valued.
Roy's input will be felt in other ways, too. He will be making the recommendations for his assistant and goalie coaches. And yes, there will be a goalie coach, "no doubt about it." The Hall of Fame goaltender already has someone in mind for the job, in fact. Despite the fact that Roy is one of the best (if not the best) goalies to ever play the game, he made it clear that he will leave coaching of those goalies to this person. He said he will try to avoid the mistake of being too hard on the goaltenders or compare them to himself. "(That's) probably the worst mistake I could make," he said. He knows he will rely on Jean-Sebastien Giguere to help mentor Semyon Varlamov, but in the end, it's the new goalie coach who will help Varly grow into the best netminder he can be.
When asked about the transition from juniors to the NHL, Roy said, "I understand there might be adjustments to make, but at the end of the day, the preparation is the same." That preparation will include reflecting on his time as a coach and as a player. It will pull from his conversations with guys like Bob Hartley, and he will use what he learned during his time playing for the Avalanche. Sakic recalled that, back in the day, he was always learning, evaluating, and seeing what the team could do better. Roy was never satisfied and always saw room for improvement. "I know what he did in our dressing room as a player," Sakic said, "and I know what he can do in the dressing room as a coach."
In 2009, Patrick turned down an offer to coach the Avs. He said he wanted to dedicate time to his family, giving back after all the sacrifices they made for him. He never questioned, however, that Colorado was where he wanted to be. "The Avalanche means a lot to me," he said. "If there's an organization I wanted to work with, it's this one. I have it at heart." That's why the timing of this was so perfect for him. He also admitted that the time since that offer has given him valuable experience. He says he knows more about the game now, and noted that making this transition sooner than he did would have been a mistake. Taking things too fast, he claims, is the biggest mistake a coach can make. "I think my number one quality (as a coach) is I'm not afraid to put in the time."
Clearly, any concerns about Roy's ego getting in the way of his ability to coach are unfounded. He admits he needs to take time to learn about the players. He believes that Gabriel Landeskog is a great captain, and in addition to the Swede learning from him, Roy said he will learn from the young forward. He will talk with Giguere and others, whoever he needs to in order to make the Avalanche a winning organization once again. The goal is to win another Stanley Cup. From his comments today, it's clear the Avs will make working for that goal a daily endeavor.