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Is Coach Roy a Coward?

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Let's get something straight: I'm a humongous big Patrick Roy fan.  He's my goalie idol, the GOAT, the swagger that walks stride-for-stride with some of my favorite hockey memories.  He was a pivotal player for the Avs during his tenure minding the nets and he was a difference maker more often than not.  I will defend his on-ice career to my dying day and Brodeur fanbois can sit on a injection wellhead and rotate.

On the other hand, I've always been a little wary of Coach Roy.  Hell, I made his hiring an April Fool's joke IN 2008!! Don't get me wrong, I love his fire in defending and motivating his players.  I enjoyed his off-ice demeanor with media and fans, and I appreciated the way he articulated his vision for the team and functioned as a face of the franchise.  I love some of his in-game strategies and his willingness to allow MacKinnon and Zadorov to develop. But I knew that Varly, other teams' unfamiliarity with his style, and luck were the main drivers behind the playoff run two years ago.  I scratched my head at some of his player usages.  I was frustrated with what appeared to be a purposeful flaunting of the lack of puck possession for the last two seasons. I wondered that if he was such a great guy to play for that it didn't seem to factor into Paul Stastny, Ryan O'Reilly, or even Mikkel Boedker's decisions to leave the team.  I wondered what he and Allaire really saw in Berra and Pickard.  I feared that none of the coaching staff recognized the issues with the systems or even worse, some of them did and couldn't or wouldn't tell Roy because of who he is and the cachet he carried.

All that aside, given the timing of his resignation, the comments that have surfaced since then, and a critical review of the team's current status...I'm really starting to wonder if he's afraid of what this season would bring. While the blueline is better than it was the past two season, that's kind of damning with faint praise.  They didn't have anywhere to go but up.  Given the roster moves at the NHL level, the game plan appears to be centered around:

  1. getting valuable experience for some younger guys,
  2. continuing the maturation process for some of the core guys,
  3. seeing where they stand come the trade deadline,
  4. remembering that some big contracts come off the books at the end of the season, and
  5. keeping the expansion draft in the back of their minds.
An increase in points would be great and is doable IMO; playoffs would be better but the murderer's row of the Central is a big factor there. Basically what I'm saying is that this season could be a bit of treading water.

Does anybody think treading water is what Roy wants to do?  He accumulated a TON of success in his playing career, essentially from the jump.  Even when circumstances changed and he quit on the Habs, he landed in a cush position with a rising franchise.  When he retired he did it right before the wheels fell off of the Avalanche franchise and its championship identity.  Where did he land?  Running his own junior's team and getting a championship out of the gate and coaching his son.  When that grew stale, he had old buddy Joe Sakic calling him and proposing they ride in like SEAL Team 6 for the Avalanche.  Jack Adams and surprise playoff birth in year one.  Then two seasons of blah.

IMO, it isn't hard to see a pattern here.  Colorado had grown stale for him.  He didn't have repeated success.  He got out.  He pulled the cord.  He wasn't willing to be the guy that shepherded the team through the next stage of the rebuild.  Could he have feared what another mediocre season, even one that was mediocre almost BY DESIGN, would mean to his reputation and ego? To me it isn't hard to believe that he put more stock into some recent personnel and drafting decisions than he should have and used those tent poles to try and hold up his decision.  The going got tough and he got going out the door.  The way the resignation played out while Sakic was on vacation and basically telling the organization the same time he told the world leaves a bad taste.  It colors the perception and not in a favorable way. It makes me question how invested he was in the team vs. how invested he was in the team's success as a barometer of his personal worth and legacy.

So here we sit sans Roy and you have to wonder the effect this will have on certain players. Will guys like Grigs, McLeod, and Bad Andy, who had an advocate in Roy, be used differently? I specifically wonder about Grigs because of his long history with Roy. What about Gelinas?  He was another reclamation project that Roy would have had an impact on.  Now?  Who knows.  If rumors were true and Roy was ready to move on from certain core guys, and now he's opted to not be coaching instead of coaching them, does that have an effect? It's thoughts like this that make me feel like Roy not only quit on the organization but he quit on some specific guys too.

I guess my final thought on the resignation is this: For someone who advocated strongly for putting his teams' collective balls on the table and screamed at players to put in the work necessary to get to the next level, it sure does look like Coach Roy was afraid that he'd have to do the same this upcoming season and he wasn't willing to do that.