Just hours after Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy stated that goalie Semyon Varlomov was the center of the team, he put forth a poor goal tending effort.
I’ve often thought Colorado Avalanche Semyon Varlamov doesn’t give enough credit to head coach Patrick Roy for his success. Whenever he speaks of who’s helped him, he mentions goalie coach Francois Allaire. But never Patrick Roy.
Now, I get that Allaire has worked very closely with Valamov to improve his game — he’s worked with backup goalie Reto Berra and prospect Calvin Pickard as well. He worked with Patrick Roy in his day and helped make Roy one of the best goalies to ever play the game.
Now, Patrick Roy is the reason Allaire is in Colorado as a goalie coach — Roy brought him on board almost as soon as the ink was dry on his head coaching contract. Without Roy, there’d be no Allaire to thank.
More to the point, there’s got to be some admission that one of the best goalies to ever play the game is Semyon Varlamov’s coach. That’s got to mean something to a goalie.
Especially when said coach has constantly backed the netminder.
Patrick Roy’s Background as Coach
It can’t be easy playing for a Hall of Fame goalie as a goalie yourself. Whenever I’ve heard coach Roy praise Semyon Varlamov to high heavens, I’ve thought it’s because he has a soft spot for people who play the position.
Turns out the opposite is true. According to the Toronto Sun, Roy’s former charges with the Quebec Remparts, the QMJHL team he coached and co-owned, were very intimidated by him. Indeed, former Remparts goalie Louis Domingue called Roy “One of the worst people I’ve ever met” because of how much Patrick used to criticize him.
Now I think coach Roy learned from that experience. I think he goes out of his way to be supportive. Indeed, he remarked during an episode of 104.3 The Fan that he doesn’t involve himself in the actual goalie coaching. He’ll simple share stories of how he got through tough patches.
Semyon Varlamov Lays an Egg
Most Wednesday mornings during the season coach Roy joins 104.3 The Fan for a half-hour chat. The Wednesday morning of the Ottawa Senators game, Patrick Roy was back to praising Semyon Varlamov. He said of the goalie:
"“The team is built around Varly. He needs to be our best player.”"
The team is built not around the talented young core of forwards, but around Varlamov. That’s a bold statement, especially since he’s told The Fan a couple times recently that Varlamov is the reason Roy won the Jack Adams award for coaching after the 2013-14 season.
Just a few hours later, Semyon Varlamov embarrassed Patrick Roy by showing him up.
Varlamov had a terrible period and 1:42 for the Colorado Avalanche. That’s what it took him and a .800% save percentage to allow in three goals on 15 shots. Indeed, the first one was such a soft goal, the scorekeeper almost seemed reluctant to count in on the scoreboard. Witness:
I don’t know what that is — failure to tighten the glutes, I guess.
Actually, one of my Avs friends on Twitter had a good analogy:
That was just Varlamov laying a goose egg.
On the Ottawa Senators’ end, that was forward Shane Prince’s first-ever NHL goal. He didn’t have to wait long to score his second-ever NHL goal — Varlamov let that in just over three minutes later.
By the time Varlamov let in the third goal — not by Prince, thank goodness — early in the second period, coach Roy was done. He yanked the “center of the team” and placed Reto Berra in net. Say what you will about Berra’s consistency, but he went on to earn a .923 save percentage.
At the conclusion of the game, coach Roy didn’t sugarcoat what he thought of the performance. During the post-game presser, he shook his head when asked about the goal tending in the game. He seemed to be choosing his words, then simply declared:
"“That was a bad goal, the first one. When I saw the first one going in, I said ‘C’mon, Varly, that can’t happen.’ That was not a dangerous shot at all — it was coming from the boards. It really hurt us a lot. It took some momentum away from our game. He needs to be better, period.”"
When I heard coach Roy make that declaration, my first thought was “Ouch.” Remember, Patrick Roy has gotten a lot of criticism for being too lenient on his players in public. (I’ve often said I thought he was a little more fire and brimstone behind closed doors, but that’s a different story.)
More from Mile High Sticking
- Could Colorado Avalanche move on from Pavel Francouz next offseason?
- 4 goalies to replace Pavel Francouz if he has to miss time
- Colorado Avalanche make sneaky signing with Tatar
- Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog could return in 2023-24 playoffs
- Colorado Avalanche rookie face-off tournament roster
Considering prior to that game coach Roy has only been saying that Varlamov hasn’t had the start to the season he wanted, that statement is some pretty harsh criticism.
Apparently great men don’t like to be embarrassed.
Now, I don’t think Patrick Roy was blaming Semyon Varlamov for the entire loss, and I’m not going to do so either. I personally saw Erik Johnson (sorry, EJ) enter a fugue state during the third Ottawa goal, and Nathan MacKinnon was passing out turnovers like he was at a tea party.
Nonetheless, coach Roy brought up a salient point — Colorado Avalanche hockey has always been based around goal tending. The goalie has to be the best player for their speedy offense to do its job.
Semyon Varlamov hasn’t consistently been the Colorado Avalanche’s best player since the 2013-14 season. As coach Roy says, he’s going to have to be better. Otherwise, we may see Reto Berra getting a lot more playing time.
MORE FROM MILE HIGH STICKING: Evaluating all the Stadium Series Jerseys