Colorado Avalanche: Reaction to Patrick Roy Quitting

Apr 1, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy on his bench in the third period against the Washington Capitals at the Pepsi Center. The Capitals defeated the Avalanche 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 1, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy on his bench in the third period against the Washington Capitals at the Pepsi Center. The Capitals defeated the Avalanche 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The news that shocked the Colorado Avalanche world: Patrick Roy decided to resign from the team, announcing his intentions to do so on Thursday morning in a press release that was unassociated with the Colorado Avalanche.

Vice President of Hockey Operations, and Head Coach of the Colorado Avalanche, Patrick Roy, made a decision to resign from his duties on Thursday morning, and we here at MHS were just as shocked as the rest of you fans.

We’ve now had time to collect our thoughts, and so I’ve collected the reaction most of my fellow colleagues experienced directly after the resignation of Patrick Roy, as well as some thoughts to the future.

Fellow staff writer Jeremy Lambert makes a good point, and we’ll get into that in a just a bit; in the meantime there are many pressing issues, and considering we already know the players that will be a part of the team, it’s time to start worrying about who will coach the team.

Furthermore, it’s obvious that the Colorado Avalanche now need a new head coach, as well as a VP of Hockey Operations, although I suspect Joe Sakic will just inherit the hockey operation duties for the time being.

The head coach is obviously the most important void that needs to be filled right now, so I’ll also include some of the options that we at MHS have quickly discussed.

The Shock of Roy Leaving

Many of us at MHS were just absolutely shocked — I’m quite honestly still in a blur — when we heard the news. Here’s what staff writer Mark Kinz had to say on the matter:

"I’m genuinely shocked. I expected Roy to at least serve out the final year of his contract for a chance at redemption, so this was a huge surprise.  For all the crap I give Roy for his stance on analytics, I genuinely wanted him to succeed.  He is, and forever shall be, a Colorado Avalanche legend. That said, and without knowing the full story, I’m a little upset about his reasoning.  While he was told he’d have input on personnel choices, that call was ultimately always Sakic’s, and Patty was to do the best he could with what he was given.  It’s also a shame he quit so late in the offseason, as that makes it hard for the team to prep for next year."

It’s safe to say that the timing on this decision is not well placed, but I doubt Roy has given that much thought.

He wanted to leave, and so that is exactly what happened, and there’s no one that’s going to support the way he left.

Anytime you have to hire a private public relations company in order to make a press-release that deals directly with an organization that would normally handle those press-releases then you know there was nothing mutual about this decision.

And, that sort of decision making has left a lot of Avalanche fans angry:

I don’t think that Joe Sacco is ever going to be the answer again, but Roy’s decision to leave at such an ill-timed juncture, and also in the midst of an offseason that will spell the most important Avalanche season in a long time, is certainly disconcerting.

Of course the decision was shocking, but shock always leads to reaction. Some of us are absolutely floored with the decision, wondering why a legend would leave, but others are hoping for optimism in the midst of it all.

Patrick Roy the Legend Leaves, What Now?

While Patrick Roy’s tenure with the Colorado Avalanche was certainly anything but consistent, he still ushered in a new era for the Colorado Avalanche.

Patrick Roy was instrumental in the choice to draft Nathan MacKinnon No. 1 overall because he had seen the kid play first hand as a coach in the QMJHL.

He also lead the team from last to first in his first year behind the bench, taking the team from bottom-feeding to first in the division and a playoff berth.

Patrick Roy also expressed a level of dedication solely seen in head coaches, and his relationship with the players was palpable and worthy of recognition.

Finally, the return of Patrick Roy was a welcome ovation that saw our legendary goaltender returning to a position where he could dictate the record and lead the team to wins.

However, the luster of such a shiny emblem was quickly dulled and grimed by an inability to find the playoffs in the 2014-15 season, and that same symbol was then re-tarnished by another failed playoff appearance last season.

Joe Sakic said earlier this summer that Roy would definitely return as head coach:

"“We’re in this thing together.”"

I bet he figured that the only way that wouldn’t happen is if he fired Roy. Now, Roy has left on his accord, and there is no such thing as Roykic anymore, Sakic is in this thing on his own.

So, either Roy left because he didn’t want to put Sakic in the situation where he would have to fire his friend, or he left because he was fed up with his lack of input in personnel decisions.

Roy was in search of more control over the team, something Sakic wasn’t able to provide, and that obviously caused a rift in the management scheme. Here’s what another MHS staff writer, Kevin Rigot, had to say on Roy’s departure:

"Count me in the group that was extremely enthusiastic when Patrick Roy was hired to coach the Avs. It’s hard to explain the feeling entirely, but beyond nostalgia, I felt like maybe the combination of Sakic and Roy would breathe life back into the franchise.  Today, upon hearing that Roy resigned, I can only say that I’m not disappointed. For whatever reasons, Roy’s coaching style worked in the first year, and then didn’t in the last two. As the last two seasons unfolded, I found myself in the camp that questioned Roy’s ability to coach at an NHL level. Many will bring up his disregard for possession statistics, which is important. Personally, I felt like he was unable to make in game adjustments and that he struggled to find ways to respond to adversity. The Avs finished last season with a 2-8 record, while fighting for a playoff spot. The professional players will take responsibility for this, but to me this is on the coach, whoever he is.  It would’ve been incredible for this franchise to be successful with Patty behind the bench, but it [wasn’t]. I’m not interested in nostalgia anymore, I want to see our new team win their own championships, and I don’t think Roy was the coach to take them there. Although it’s shocking, this event may be a blessing in disguise — It saves Sakic from having to fire Roy and maybe step down himself, and it saves this team from spending another year with an unresponsive coach."

Regardless of how this situation affects the team or management, it’s certainly obvious that any disagreement in team direction needs to be managed. Perhaps Roy was just removing himself from a situation bound for destruction?

Nonetheless, Roy’s abrupt departure still leaves a bad taste in the mouth, and many here at MHS are still trying to rid themselves of the bile.

Will Radke, fellow MHS writer, offered a quick response that aptly sums it up, saying:

"My reaction is just: very shitty way to do it, really screws the team over"

My personal reaction probably falls under this category as well. I love Patrick Roy because he is a symbol of my childhood, a beacon that speaks to a time when I fell in love with hockey,

I was at his final game ever, I saw his career end in an Avalanche uniform, and welcomed his return to the organization like a king to his rightful throne.

But then things started to go sour. Paul Stastny left in free agency after saying he would sign a contract at a hometown discount, and Ryan O’Reilly was traded with a very ominous feel.

Nonetheless, the future was set with a player Roy had previously coached in Mikhail Grigorenko, and the team was ready to take a bite out of the season and supplant themselves in the playoffs once more.

And now, he has chosen to leave on his own accord, and on his own terms which is very fitting to who Patrick Roy is as an individual.

Regardless, his decision to depart with such impulsiveness will put the Avalanche in a sticky situation as they are now just 1 month away from the start of training camp.

Roy is on his way out because of the fact that the Avs didn’t make the playoffs, and because he was not getting the amount of access to personnel decisions that he desired:

"I have thought long and hard over the course of the summer about how I might improve this team to give it the depth it needs and bring it to a higher level. To achieve this, the vision of the coach and VP-Hockey Operations needs to be perfectly aligned with that of the organization. He must also have a say in the decisions that impact the team’s performance. These conditions are not currently met."

There’s so much speculation inundating the hockey world in reference to this development obviously, but regardless of the speculation it should be noted that many fans and analysts are at a crossroads with this decision.

Joey Faul, another MHS staff writer, was shocked by the decision, but he’s optimistic about what it may ultimately entail for the Colorado Avalanche:

"After these last two seasons, the Avs were going to have to move on from Patrick at some point soon. Roy abruptly quitting does put the Avs in a tough spot to start the season, but I believe it will be better long term. Also, Wild fans are not happy about Roy quitting from what I am seeing on Twitter. Michael Russo of the Star Tribune is in Denver right now and posted something immediately after the news was released, and most of the comments say that the Avs will be better because of it."

News like this is usually only shocking because fans don’t have the sort of access to management decisions that they desire, but as much as I would like imagine that there was some sort of preemptive nature associated with this decision from the management perspective, I am convinced otherwise.

These sort of decisions don’t just come out of the blue, or at least they normally don’t, but the more I read about how Patrick Roy made this decision, the more I am convinced that he made this decision without informing anyone of the process.

With that sort of unknown associated, one must wonder how the players reacted to such a shocking news announcement.

Aren’t the Players Shocked Too?

My first curiousity resided in how the players were taking this news, because I knew they would be just as shocked as the rest of the Avalanche fans about the news that this was taking place.

And, as Jeremy Lambert eloquently said in his tweet, it’s time to find out if the core of the Avalanche is the reason the team was having problems, or if there were more systematic issues plaguing the team’s success.

Unfortunately, it took awhile for my desire to be sated; luckily, Erik Johnson joined Vic Lombardi and Kyle’s Keefe Altitude Sports Broadcast to weigh in on the decision:

I understand if you don’t want to listen to it all because it’s a bit long, but it’s most certainly the best player reaction that you are going to get so I highly recommend the full journey.

Erik Johnson has long been regarded as one of the leaders on the Colorado Avalanche, so his interview is particularly revealing as to how the players have reacted to the news.

He mentions texts he’s received from fellow players, his appreciation for Roy, as well as the focus of this coming season.

Regardless of his sentiments, there is one reaction that stands tall through it all: the Colorado Avalanche are now in a desperate search for a new head coach, and players will now have more to prove during this year’s training camp in order to find their spot on the roster, and make an impact this coming season.

The Search for a New Head Coach

It’s obvious that Patrick Roy picked a bad time to announce his resignation because it’s August, and all the head coaches we could have sought after in the beginning of the offseason have already been signed to new teams.

Luckily, Joe Sakic is taking the steps necessary to filling this void with urgency.

There are a couple options still available. The Colorado Avalanche just need to fill this void quickly so that the new coach can start building a relationship with the players, and have enough time to implement his new systems.

Nonetheless, it’s time to start looking for head coaches, and as Sakic said, that search begins immediately.

Ted Nolan is an option for the Colorado Avalanche. He’s the former head coach of the Latvian Olympic team, and he also coached a poorly constructed Buffalo Sabres roster to a respectable finish in the NHL before being fired for current Sabres coach Dan Bylsma.

As staff writer Will Radke noted, Ted Nolan has some upside because of his adaptability:

"Ted Nolan did great things with a terrible roster in buffalo"

Marc Crawford is another option we have discussed, but his time with Colorado was marred by the Todd Bertuzzi incident. Nonetheless, he’s experienced with NHL rosters, and is currently an assistant coach for the Ottawa Senators.

Mark Kinz made that association very clear:

"I doubt he comes back here after the Bertuzzi incident though"

So what options are we left with then? Obviously there are some options within the organization. EJ mentions in his interview that there are a few options available within the organization even though he doesn’t name anyone in particular.

But, there is no proven NHL coach talent within the organization, so a promotion from within seems unlikely, unless you’re on the same mindset as me.

Nolan Pratt has been a hot topic amongst the fanbase as of late, and his recent signing brings a lot of optimism toward the defensive side of the puck for the Colorado Avalanche.

Furthermore, there are very few teams who sport the model of a head coach with three assistant coaches. Nolan Pratt would have been the third assistant coach in the organization, joining Dave Farrish and Tim Army.

He may still end up being the third assistant coach, but I’d like to think that Joe Sakic may have done a preemptive strike by hiring Nolan Pratt.

Coaches have to join the NHL ranks from somewhere. We gave Patrick Roy a shot shortly after he lead a junior team in the Quebec Remparts to a Memorial Cup Championship. Jon Cooper got a chance with the Tampa Bay Lightning after a very successful AHL career.

And, Nolan Pratt could get chance to coach the Avalanche after a very successful outing in the AHL last year as the assistant coach on the defensive side of things for the Lake Erie Monsters, who won the Calder Cup last season.

Either way, it’s going to be a tough decision, and the Avalanche are certainly going to feel the impacts of having a new head coach this coming season, especially with a decision being made this late in the offseason.

The Impact of a New Head Coach

One thing that I will be monitoring to the highest degree is how impactful a new head coach is going to be on the usage of players on this year’s roster.

Where will Tyson Barrie find himself on the roster? How will Mikhail Grigorenko be impacted by the loss of his coach in Juniors, and the implementation of now his third coach in the NHL?

How will any of the other important pieces on the Colorado Avalanche roster react to a new voice, and new systems, especially with the lack of time they have to adjust to those new systems?

Will the new head coach view the development of players the same way that Roy did? Or are players like Nikita Zadorov, Chris Bigras, and Mikko Rantanen in for a wakeup call?

More from Mile High Sticking

I think it should be noted that Joe Sakic controls the personnel decisions for the Avalanche solely at this point, and it’s very possible that with a new coach who does not have the same power Patrick Roy had, the control of the team will be entirely within Sakic’s hands.

I don’t think that is a bad thing for the Avalanche; in fact, I think it’s almost safe to say that Sakic will ensure that his new head coach will utilize his new roster as desired, and now that vision of the future Avalanche is entirely within Sakic’s hands.

Nonetheless, implementing a new head coach to a roster that he hasn’t been associated with at all, and that is shortly removed from losing a head coach the players were loyal too, all within the span of one month, is going to be difficult.

And, it’s safe to say that the impact will likely result in a slow start for the Avalanche yet again; hopefully this change will be beneficial to the Avalanche in the long run, no matter how hard it is to cope with the departure of Patrick Roy.

To Conclude

This is a tough time in Colorado Avalanche country, and the decision he made on Thursday is going to impact the team in a large capacity next season. There’s just no way to recover from a decision like this so late in the offseason.

Roy left the fans shocked, left the players shocked, and caught Joe Sakic off guard on his vacation. Roy also utilized a third-party public relations company to make his announcement, which suggests that his relations with the Colorado Avalanche organization are strained, at the least.

As much as I love Patrick Roy the player, I am having trouble reconciling with the decisions that the coach made on Thursday morning.

But, Avalanche fans could still see some good results from this decision. Joe Sakic has control of the roster, and he’s shown growth as a GM over the last few years. There’s no telling how Patrick Roy’s lack of influence on the roster will reflect in the level of play from the Avalanche next season, but a new head coach should be very telling on that matter.

Here’s a video on what EJ Hradek had to say on the ordeal:

The opinion and verdict on Patrick Roy is split; either Roy was going to bring this team back into contention, or a new coach was a necessary in order to achieve that result.

EJ Hradek brings up some good points, but my opinion of Roy as a head coach of the Colorado Avalanche will forever be mired in uncertainty because I never saw the end result.

Nonetheless, Patrick Roy will now only be a vestige of Colorado Avalanche coaching history, and perhaps the Avalanche will be better because of these moves, only time and new head coach will answer these questions.

Next: Reflecting on Roy's Tenure, and Moving Forward

Nonetheless, I understand that the team would either part from Roy, or he would make the decision on his own terms, and I respect him for taking the onus, but the timing is not right and he could have negatively impacted the team for next season in a bad way.

Regardless, Roy will always be a marker of legend within the state of Colorado. Even though his time was short lived as the Avalanche head coach, his impact will be felt for many years.

Simply put, the impact he served as a player will always trump the short stint he served as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche.

So cheers to the seasons we saw with Patrick Roy behind the bench, good luck to his future, and let’s start worrying about next season for the Colorado Avalanche because that direction just took an unknown turn toward a new path.