Avalanche Throwback Thursday: Patrick Roy Named Head Coach


“My objective is to give that team back to our fans. When the fans come to the rink they’re going to say ‘Hey, that’s my team’.” ~Patrick Roy

On May 23, 1993, the Colorado Avalanche named Hall of Fame goal tender Patrick Roy as head coach of the team. Two years ago to the day, the team introduced him as head coach to the media — and the Avs Nation.

The announcement came exactly 10 years to the day since Patrick Roy announced his retirement from the Colorado Avalanche as goalie.

Transitional Period

I swear there was talk when Patrick Roy first retired of his joining the coaching staff. However, he went back to Quebec to focus on raising his children.

Well, don’t picture Roy as a stay-at-home dad. Right away he became the vice president of hockey operations for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, later transitioning to general manager and head coach, along with part owner. You know how some high-octane men take on even more in retirement? Yeah, that was Patrick Roy.

When then-head coach Tony Granato was fired in 2009, Colorado Avalanche management offered the position to Patrick Roy. I remember the rumors — and how excited Avs fans were. However, Roy declined, stating he still wanted to focus on raising his kids:

"“It was important to me to give back to my three children. They’ve been there for me throughout my career, and I thought it was important for me to be there for them as well.”"

He also stated that he didn’t feel like he had enough coaching experience to take on an NHL role.

Roy later admitted at his introductory news conference:

"“I was afraid in 2009, that maybe I missed one of best opportunities of my life.”"

However, Patrick Roy seemed never to be far from Avalanche management’s minds — certainly he never was far from Avs fans’ minds.

Patrick Roy Named Head Coach

I kind of like to think of the Patrick Roy conversations as going something like this:

"2003 Avs: We want you to join our coaching staff.Roy: I’m not ready. I want to raise my kids and get coaching experience.2009 Avs: We want you to become head coach.Roy: I’m still not ready. My kids are still in school, and I want to keep getting experience as a coach.2013 Avs: You have eight years’ coaching experience. We also notice all your kids have graduated high school. We’ll be announcing you as head coach on May 28, at a press conference. See you then."

Truthfully, according to ESPN, the conversation took place on the golf course in Florida. Josh Kroenke was there to represent Kroenke Sports Entertainment. But what helped sweeten the deal was the the new general manager was a very familiar face for Patrick Roy — former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Joe Sakic.

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Part of what drew Roy was he was going into a fairly new situation for the NHL. He’d not only be head coach, making on-ice decisions. He’d also be vice president of hockey operations. Essentially, he also got a big say in personnel and roster decisions.

Patrick Roy would get to create the team and the staff he wanted to take the Avalanche as far as he could.

Of course, he was taking on a wildly under-performing team with a lot of roster issues and a staff not of his choosing. Oh, and there was that whole cliché that stars make terrible coaches.

Patrick Roy was having none of that:

"“I’m not nervous about that. To be honest with you, I checked one interesting stat: 100 percent of the coaches who are coaching now in the NHL were rookies at one time in their careers.”"

Cue laugh track — that’s Patrick Roy at his cheeky best.

Of course, there’s also Patrick Roy at his fiery best. I’d like to say he’s mellowed… actually, no I wouldn’t. And it doesn’t matter because he hasn’t — just remember how he pushed over the stanchion on his debut night as head coach of the Avalanche.

Patrick Roy made a couple promises when he was announced as the head coach. His first was the acknowledgement that, while the team might not win a Stanley Cup right away, “We’re going to have a Stanley Cup attitude.”

The second promise is one that we saw that night of the stanchion, that we’ve seen hints of when he gives interviews. And we’re starting to see it as he makes more significant personnel decisions.

Patrick Roy spoke to the fans:

"“To all Avalanche fans, rest assured I will bring the same passion to my new role with the team as I did when I was a player.”"

I’d have to say, as an Avalanche fan who attended that debut game, I heard my fellow fans screaming loudest for Patrick Roy. In other words, the passion is a two-way street.

Next: Roy Tells the Panthers: No More Rats

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