What. A. Game. While the players put on an incredible show last night, the talk of the town has really been new head coach Patrick Roy and his... uh, disagreement... with Anaheim's Bruce Boudreau and the pane of glass separating them. If you haven't seen the outburst yet, here's a link.
I want to start by saying that I don't think Roy lost it just for the sake of losing it. I firmly believe that he has enough self control now to know when to let his colors shine and when to hold back. If his move last night had hurt the team, I severely doubt he would have done it. I also don't believe that the Avs are going to become some sort of dirty team in the long run. A statement was made, but statements lose their power if they're over-made or aren't backed up with outstanding play. Roy understands this. While he will likely remain consistent in his response to teams trying to give us trouble, I don't think outbursts like this will become a norm. Even as a player, winks and grins often substituted for fists. However, this was the first game, and his over-the-top response was meant to send out a number of messages to various people and establish the tone of the Roy Era 2.0 in Denver.
First of all, this was a message to the rest of the league. If you think you can push the Avs around on or off the ice, think again. Yeah, we might have been the NHL's doormat for the past five years, but things are different now. If you push us, we will push back. Roy's outburst really served as a wake-up call that other teams can't treat the Avs as some inconsequential match-up anymore.
It also should be noted that he probably wouldn't have done anything if the boys hadn't made that point abundantly clear throughout the entire game. Roy's outburst was a cherry on top of an already dominant showing. If the Avs hadn't brought the "ice cream" all night long by completely destroying the Ducks, the cherry would have been fairly useless. But together? It emphasized what was already there and put the entire league on notice.
Second, it was a message to the fans. The culture has changed in the Mile High City - there's reason to be fired up about this team again. He's excited, he's passionate, and it's rubbing off on everyone. Diehards, sports talk guys... heck, even casual fans are talking about the Avs. That 30 seconds of glass smashing was more effective marketing that this team has put together in the past 5 years combined. I don't think this was the primary thought running through his head when he let loose, but given his talk of wanting to make the fans proud of this team again, I do think it played a role.
Third, and most importantly, this was a message to the team. It proved he will stand up for them. You knee our rook, you kick our goalie in the head... you'll hear about it. Roy has their back, and if actions speak louder than words, this move put even the new soundsystem to shame. The General rode into battle last night and gave the other guy a serious beat-down. How can that not inspire confidence and admiration from his troops? I get the feeling that the Avs respect and willingness to do whatever Patrick says just went through the roof, and it's going to be a unifying factor for the team moving forward. They won't just play under him, they'll play FOR him as a single, collective unit.
Boudreau's insistence that it was "bush league" may be true, but after so many years of zero intensity from the bench, zero cohesion on the ice, and zero respect from the league, maybe some bush league is exactly what Denver needs. Roy AND his boys put on a show last night, and for the first time in a long time, I'm proud to be an Avs fan. As long as he uses this nuclear option sparingly, we're in for a heck of a season.
Roy has been fined $10,000 (US) by the league as a result of his actions at the end of the game.