Avs Future Firmly in the Hands of the Past
Colorado announced that legendary netminder Patrick Roy would assume the mantle of both Head Coach and Vice President of Hockey Operations last night.
Roy, now 47, won two Stanley Cups with the Avs and had been linked with the vacant Head Coaches position ever since Joe Sacco was dismissed, following a disastrous season which saw the franchise finish 29th overall.
The appointment is the latest signal that the Avs want to change the culture of the club and re-capture the glory days – seemingly by getting the stars of old to guide the new generation.
Whilst Roy is generally seen as a popular choice to assume the role of Head Coach, perhaps the most intriguing move is that Roy will join Joe Sakic as a Vice President of Hockey Operations – providing the Avs not one but two Hall of Famers calling the shots. Roy gained both Coaching and management experience in the QMJHL with Quebece, where he won the Memorial Cup in 2006, but it is none the less a massive shift for a franchise which very much danced to Pierre Lacroix’s beat from the day it arrived in Denver, and whilst Greg Sherman retains the title of General Manager the power in Denver now lies firmly with two of the clubs most respected and revered alumni.
The challenge ahead for Roy, and perhaps Sakic, is justify the faith shown in them by the Kroenke family and to prove they are not appointments made on popularity, rather than ability.
Roy has enjoyed success with Quebec Remparts, but there were those who preferred Dallas Eakins, George Gwozdecky or perhaps Dave Tippett for the coaching role. Likewise Sakic has ascended to a prime role within the organisation following a brief apprenticeship.
But there are openings within the coaching staff, giving Roy the option to bring in some experienced hands while he adapts to life as an NHL boss. Adam Foote has been strongly linked a role within the franchise, and former Avs winger Steve Konowalchuk has shown a flair for coaching since he retired. And the franchise seems to have no hesitation in backing Roy, with the word ‘winner’ coming up frequently. In many ways it’s hard to argue with the assessment, nor can you question Roy’s passion for the game and adding the right ‘support team’ could indeed help lead what is a talented group of young players out of the basement and back to the NHL’s peak.
Roy’s appointment could in particular make, or break, Semyon Varlamov – because lets be honest, if there is one thing St Paddy will expect from his roster it’s good goaltending. Varlamov has shown flashed of elite level ability, but faded away at the end of last season amid talk that he had ‘quit’ on the team/season. An improvement in the Avs own end, and between the pipes, will surely be the first order of business for Roy and Sakic to address.
With two bold appointments in the front office, and a 1st overall pick at this summers draft, the Avs future certainly has a different feel to it now.