The home stretch has arrived. With the season set to kick off for the Avalanche at home on October 2nd, we have a fair idea of what the team is going to look like this season.
We all know what happened last year: the defense was atrocious, goaltender Semyon Varlamov did about all he could to help remedy that situation, and the Avalanche were dead last in just about every relevant category on their way to the first overall pick.
So what’s in store for them for the 2013-14 season? How do the Avalanche look compared to last year and most importantly, what will they do this upcoming season? Part four of this final preview series will take a look at the coaching staff.
We’re going to take a look at the head coach and the assistants, assigning a grade from 1-5 for both as well as for the group as a whole. Let’s get to it.
New head coach Patrick Roy is making his NHL coaching debut this season but he does have a little bit of a track record to go off of.
He was head coach of the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, though he owned the team so his credentials weren’t exactly questions. He did, however, lead the Remparts to the Memorial Cup in his rookie season, so it’s hard to question him.
There was that ugly incident in 2008 when his son, Jonathan, charged and fought opposing goalie Bobby Nadeau, who had no interest in partaking:
As it did during his playing days, his bravado, cockiness, and supreme self-confidence have helped him along the way. He doesn’t believe he’s capable of failure and refuses to accept anything less than success.
Those traits will no doubt continue to aid him as he moves to the professionals but another key thing to remember is that he has a hand in the construction of this roster. That’s a huge benefit to a coach: you pick your own guys, guys who you feel fit your system and your way of life, so it’s easier to coach them up.
Lastly, he’s a student of the game. Going back to his playing days when he was chasing Terry Sawchuk’s records, he read Sawchuk’s biography to learn more about the man whose records he was chasing. He’s always been willing to learn about the history of the game.
Roy is confident in his abilities, smart, and prepared. The Avalanche likely won’t see a ton of success in year one, but they appear to be on the right path with St.Patrick at the helm.
Tim Army, who has been with the club since 2011, was rumored at times to be the successor to the fired Joe Sacco as head coach before the team ultimately ended up with Roy.
Army originally started out as assistant coach in charge of video after spending six seasons behind the bench at Providence College as well as an assistant for nine years with both Anaheim and Washington. He’s since been promoted to assistant.
Joining him among the assistants is Andre Tourigny. Known as “Bear”, Tourigny has previous experience with Roy – as his opponent. He was the general manager and head coach of the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. He won Coach of the Year honors in 2005-06 and holds the league record for longest tenure with one club.
He was also apart of Team Canada’s World Junior Championship efforts as an assistant.
A familiar face enters the fold as the team’s Defense Development Consultant: Adam Foote. Foote spent nearly his entire 19-year NHL career with the Avalanche, best known as their mean and rough stay-at-home defenseman. He was apart of both Avalanche Stanley Cup teams in 1996 and 2001 and could no doubt offer up a nugget or two of wisdom.
Rounding out the staff is goaltending coach Francois Allaire. Allaire and Roy have a history going back to Roy’s playing days with Montreal, where Allaire was Roy’s goalie coach. He’s also credited with helping turn Jean-Sebastien Giguere, the Avs’ current backup, into one of the NHL’s best goalies during his time in Anaheim. Allaire and Giguere could help Varlamov get over the hump and into the league’s upper-echelon for goalies.
Overall, Roy has surrounded himself with an experienced staff with a track record of success. Having Allaire, a long-time friend and cohort, in the fold will no doubt put Roy’s mind at ease and help develop Varlamov.
Though there isn’t a lot of professional experience among the ranks of the coaching staff, there is a track record of success among most members of the staff. Roy’s fiery demeanor and supreme confidence in himself has only helped him in the past and should continue to do so in the future.
He’ll be surrounded by talented, successful coaches, allowing him to pass off some of the burden instead of shouldering it all himself. The Avs won’t be successful this season, and maybe not for a few more until they shore up the defense, but it won’t be because of the coaching staff. The Avs are on the right track and in St.Patrick they trust.
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