Colorado Avalanche Broke Faith with Patrick Roy

Nov 25, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy during the second period against the Ottawa Senators at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 25, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy during the second period against the Ottawa Senators at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche reneged on deals made to Patrick Roy, likely leading to his decision to resign from the team.

The Colorado Avalanche fandom has had enough time to get some distance that shocked us last Thursday, the resignation of head coach and vice president of hockey operations, Patrick Roy.

Acknowledged: Patrick Roy is sure of himself to the point of arrogance — I doubt the man himself would balk at that characterization.

Acknowledged: I am a big supporter of Patrick Roy’s.

Take a moment to get past those two prejudices. I acknowledge them, so let’s move on.

Looking across Avs Nation, from BSN Avalanche to Mile High Hockey to Twitter to Facebook to my own friends, I see a lot of the same lament — head coach Patrick Roy quit the Colorado Avalanche because he didn’t get his way. A lot of us felt very raw after the announcement of his resignation, and many fans reacted by blaming the man who left.

This is understandable. However, I’d like you to put aside all emotion right now, too. Because at the core of this situation is something very black and white: The Colorado Avalanche reneged on promises they made to former head coach and vice president of hockey operations Patrick Roy.

The Promises

Longtime Colorado Avalanche insider Adrian Dater relates details of Patrick Roy’s hiring. Basically, Josh Kroenke, part of the ownership family for the Colorado Avalanche, and Joe Sakic invited Roy to go golfing in Florida. Now, the Avalanche had already asked Roy to come on as coach in 2009 — actually, he was offered the GM position as well — but he deferred so he could continue coaching his sons in the QMJHL Quebec Remparts.

In any case, Roy had to know why Kroenke and Sakic had invited him to a game of golf in the summer of 2013. Sure enough, they offered him the coaching position. He pointed out that he’d successfully owned, managed and coached a hockey team, the Remparts.

So, they added the title of vice president of hockey operations. With that was supposed to come final say in player personnel.

They promised him final say when it came to who played on his team.

Now, we’re not going to argue about whether they should have made that promise. It doesn’t matter if they should have made it — they did.

Roy must have understood that he and Sakic would work together on a shared vision of the team. He must have imagined that Sakic would back him up with what he wanted. He was to have final say on player personnel.

According to Dater, Roy said at the time he’d have taken on the job even just as coach. The point I’m going to drive home one last time is that wasn’t the job. He also carried the title of vice president of hockey ops. And with that came final say in player personnel.

Broken Faith

Let’s say you’re great at your job, perhaps sales. A record-breaking salesperson even. You also have some lower level management skills.

One day, a couple of big bosses come to talk to you. They have a department that’s been badly managed for years and has fallen into disrepair. There’s some talent available, but it needs fresh vision. They want you to take the job.

They also promise that you’ll be able to run the department how you see fit so that it can get back to the glory they believe you can bring.

Now imagine you run that department. Things aren’t perfect — you’re not perfect. However, your vision and passion are clear as ever, and you’re willing to work that much harder to get the department back to elite status.

Now, those two big bosses — who solicited you — lose a little faith because the results aren’t there yet. They pay lip service to supporting you, but they start making some of the decisions they’d promised would be yours.

So, it all comes down to this: The bosses have reneged on the promises they made. You have a decision to make. Do you accept their broken faith, or do you walk?

It doesn’t matter what your vision was — there’s no such thing as a right or wrong vision. And remember, you took over a department in a state of crisis. It also doesn’t matter if you should have ever had that much control to begin with — they promised it to you.

That’s what happened to Patrick Roy.

And that left him with a decision to make. He made it.

The Decision

Patrick Roy released a statement through an independent PR firm instead of through the Colorado Avalanche. As a reason for his resignation, he cited the following:

"“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.”"

Many writers and fans took that statement to mean Patrick Roy didn’t “get his way,” so he quit. In a way, they’re right.

However, I return again to the assertion that he was supposed to “get his way.” That was his condition for taking on a job he hadn’t sought — for which he’d been sought because of his expertise.

Joe Sakic conducted a conference call shortly after the announcement of Patrick Roy’s resignation. During the call, he made a couple comments. One was that some of the staff they hired were so that Roy could “keep his focus on coaching.” He may be referring to the addition of Nolan Pratt, an analytics expert, or Chris McFarland as assistant GM.

Sakic also remarked that Roy had been “aware of all the decisions we were making.”

Aware — not making said decisions, but aware of them. That could mean decisions about trading Matt Duchene (if that’s what it was), about signing Tyson Barrie long-term (if that’s what it was), about pursuing Alexander Radulov (if that’s what it was), about who to take at the draft (if that’s what it was).

Yes, Joe Sakic was Patrick Roy’s boss, technically. However, he had had wined and dined — and golfed — Roy to get him to take the position of head coach. Patrick didn’t seek it out — they asked him to do it.

And he agreed. But he also wanted a little extra . He wanted the chance to create a vision and a plan for bringing the Colorado Avalanche back to greatness. He wanted the power to enact that vision. And they agreed.

Next: Avs 30 Under 30: Retired Players

The Colorado Avalanche later reneged on that promise. Never mind if they should have, if Patrick Roy’s vision was flawed. We’re dealing with black and white in this post. We’re dealing with truth. The truth is, the Colorado Avalanche broke faith with Patrick Roy, and he decided not to accept that.