Well, didn’t see that one coming...
If someone last week would have told me that Patrick Roy would soon resign from his role as head coach of the Avalanche, I would have said that person was crazy. And now, apparently, the rest of us are. My Facebook feed is erupting in a stream of mini heart attacks as the news begins to spread. But in light of the hysteria, let me just say this: Roy quitting as head coach and VP of Hockey Operations for the Avalanche could fairly well be a blessing in disguise.
Why, you ask? Because the Patrick Roy system has not matched the Colorado Avalanche talent since the 112-point 2013-14 season that rendered fans desperate for more playoff hockey. His style—not the talent—is the main reason most analysts around the league count out the Avs among probably playoff contenders.
Here is how I believe that this is good for the Avalanche: this will provide a major shake up for the team, which is something we knew was coming but thought would occur on the roster. Avalanche fans knew something was needed to wake up the team and Roy leaving could very well be the shot in the arm the team needed to regain their success.
This untimely exit also opens up an opportunity that could yield dividends for years to come. Bob Hartley is available after being released from the Calgary Flames, and given his past success with the team, he could be the guy that get them back to that level of success. His system with Calgary could be a huge boost to the talent in Colorado, but improving the defensive end may still be a problem. Keeping in mind that the Avalanche recently hired Nolan Pratt to help with the defense, perhaps the necessary change has already been made.
On one hand, this news is awfully sad. Avalanche fans would have loved nothing more than to watch Patrick Roy ride in on a white horse and save the day, but we should still feel a sense of optimism. The reason is simple: the move allows for additional change — change that was necessary.
In order to become a better team in the coming years, the Avalanche very simply need to welcome new ideas.
When Joel Quenneville took over the Blackhawks, his coaching style certainly wasn’t what it is today. He had to buy into an analytics-driven front office philosophy that’s since yielded three Stanley Cups. Another great example is the Washington Capitals bringing in Barry Trotz last season. Both coaches found ways to integrate traditional coaching philosophies with modern analysis to improve their team in a dramatic fashion. Quenneville turned the Blackhawks into a possession beast and Trotz installed a defensive system so effective it actually made the team better on both sides of the puck.
Last, but certainly not least, keep an eye on the newest head coach of the Rampage. Eric Veilleux is a former coach-of-the-year in the 2013-14 season and is highly regarded as being a fantastic coach. If things do not work out for whoever steps in to take the reins, look for Veilleux to be promoted to this position.
The point here is, do not freak out or jump ship just yet. Wait until we see what happens, because as far as we know the Avalanche could be picking up a coach who can forever change the image of this team for years to come and could possibly bring a championship back to Denver for the Avalanche.