If you’re an Avalanche fan, you know the gist of what head coach Patrick Roy did for the team in his rookie season. Here it is in a nutshell — he took the team with the worst record in their conference — second worst in the entire NHL — and turned them into the Central Division champs.
Sure there were more factors to consider — not least of which was the acquisition of rookie Nathan MacKinnon — but Roy has the biggest piece of that. Except he always says it’s all about the players. And of course he’s right except… it’s mostly the same players who earned the worst-in-the-conference designation from the previous season, same core anyway.
The big change was the addition of Patrick Roy, which is why he’s a shoe-in for the Jack Adams Award.
Players’ Dedication to Their Coach
Landeskog concurred, stating, “[Roy] has certainly earned the trust and respect that any coach needs for his players to work hard for him.”
Work hard indeed — both Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly came back early from injuries to play in Montreal, Roy’s former home. Even Roy admitted in the post-game press conference that they did so to “win one for their coach.” He went on:
“I knew what they were doing. I’ve been in this league long enough. I have a lot of respect for my players, and I appreciate what these guys have done.”
Of course, Roy remarked that he never wants to put himself in front of the team, that he’s proud of the players regardless. That is part of the key to his success
Inspiring Player Motivation
If Patrick Roy can write a book or record a talk about how he transformed the under-achievers of the 2012-2013 season into the team they really are, parents, teachers and retail managers everywhere will make him even richer and more famous than he already is. Because parents, teachers and anyone else who regularly works with the younger set will tell you that getting them to reach their potential is no small feat.
Landeskog described the difference to Dan Rosen of NHL.com:
“[Roy] is in this together with us. It’s a partnership. It’s not coach vs. players. We’re all in this together, and he made that really clear from the beginning.”
That “beginning” could be the now-infamous partition-push in the 2013-2014 season-opener against the Anaheim Ducks. Except that was just the outward expression of the support. Had he not backed it up in the locker room, the scene would have just been another Patrick Roy moment, one to file away with the time he hot-dogged the puck right into his own net and the time he dangled Wayne Gretzky on the way to crossing center-ice — a no-no, by the way.
Roy backed it up, though. Star center Matt Duchene, in his typically analytical way, explained:
“There is no doghouse with Patrick. He brings you in, sits you down, you talk constructively, then you go back out and play.”
That style of coaching led Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly to have the best season of their careers and for Erik Johnson to match his best. Again, that’s the core of youngsters who so radically under-achieved the previous season.
Of course, there was one more under-achiever from the previous season who also had a career-year under Roy’s tutelage — Semyon Varlamov.
Roy and Varlamov
Semyon Varlamov won the lottery when Patrick Roy got named head coach of his team. Actually, the boon was much greater than a mere infusion of cash — the best-ever goalie in the universe (or at least one of the best-ever) became Varlamov’s mentor. Not only that, said goalie brought in his former mentor, goalie coach Francois Alliare. And they shined all of that collective brilliance directly on Semyon Varlamov.
Roy’s support of Varlamov never wavered. Sure, Varlamov is the one who put in the time and effort. Varlamov is the one who started with a level of talent and athleticism that allowed him to backstop the Avs to a stellar season. Once again, though, he never managed to do that before. The big change was Roy — Roy and his belief, his knowledge and his coaching.
Roy for Jack AdamsWith the 2013-2014 NHL season, rookie head coach Patrick Roy showed a flair for the sport that most fans — myself included — thought got retired when he hung up his goalie pads. Patrick Roy is showing that he is at least as brilliant at coaching as he was at tending goal. Considering he was a four-time Stanley Cup winner, five-time William H. Jennings Trophy winner (for fewest goals-against in a season), three time Conn Smythe Trophy winner (MVP in the playoffs) and three-time Vezina Trophy winner — well, if he can match that with his coaching abilities,that’s coach of the year material.
No offense to Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning or Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings, but their accomplishments don’t quite add up to the same level. Facing adversity and taking your team to the playoffs — those are great achievements. They’re simply not on par with turning the worst-in-the-conference team to division champs in a season — and having them make the playoffs for the first time in four years.
For those reasons Patrick Roy should be an automatic for the Jack Adams Award for coaching.