Interesting news came down today that Patrick Roy has stepped down as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche. Citing a difference of opinion and direction, the change doesn’t come as a total surprise. Roy had a way about him that wasn’t always in line with the organization. From calling Tyson Barrie a number five defenseman, to being rumored as on the outs with players like Matt Duchene, Roy’s career with the Avs was tumultuous, to say the least.
What may be interesting in the next few days, is whom the Avalanche choose to replace Roy and immediate speculation seems to be that former Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley is a front-runner. Hartley was the second ever head coach of the Avs and was a tremendously successful coach winning division titles and the Stanley Cup. Hartley left the Avalanche franchise with a 193–109–48 regular season record and a 49–31 playoff record. His 193 wins are a franchise record and he became the only coach in team history to record 40 or more wins during his first four seasons as head coach. It makes absolute sense when you combine his history with Colorado and the accomplishments he’d piled up in Calgary, why he’d make the short-list.
Hartley is a Media and Fan Favorite
Because of Hartley’s storied and winning history, it took mere minutes from the time of Roy’s announced departure that people started calling for Hartley to return to the Avs and be their bench boss moving forward. And why not? Reuniting coaches with their former teams seems to be a thing in the NHL now. Franchises like Montreal and Anaheim have done so with relative success and Hartley has as much a winning record or better than the coaches who have traveled this path before him.
Twitter lit up with speculation and suggestion. The Avs haven’t done or said anything to tip their hat about the direction they may be leaning, but the Avs did note that they’d be looking to hire a new coach immediately.
I’d say Hartley has good chance to return to Avs. Happened with Therrien in Montreal and Carlyle in Anaheim.
— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) August 11, 2016
If the Avs hired Bob Hartley that would be the most Avs move ever
— Kris (@WildcardKH) August 11, 2016
Can someone make sure that Joe Sakic know that Bob Hartley is available please? cc: @Kinger999
— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) August 11, 2016
History With the Flames
Hartley was named head coach of the Calgary Flames on May 31, 2012. In 2015, he won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year and was the first coach in Flames franchise history to win the award. He spent four seasons in Calgary achieving a 134–135–25 record with one playoff appearance.
The Calgary team he coached wasn’t expected to accomplish much. Shortly after his arrival as coach, Calgary was in the middle of a rebuild and Hartley’s primary focus was to mentor, develop and push forward prospects with his direct approach to coaching. Hartley spent most of his time denying the official rebuild, but his time as coach saw the departure of players like Jarome Iginla who signaled a changing of the times. Hartley was a no-nonsense type leader who got an incredible amount of work out of what was a less talented squad on paper.
It seemed to have worked as in 2014-15 Hartley guided the Flames to a surprise playoff appearance, ultimately losing in Conference Semifinals. Eventually, that no-nonsense approach developed its detractors. A lack of true NHL talent and a roster filled more with prospects than veterans saw Calgary come crashing back down to earth and Hartley was released as coach of the Flames on May 3, 3016.
All in all, Hartley is and was a tremendous coach. He’s boisterous, but he’s effective. He has a proven track record, he’s a Jack Adam’s award winner and he’s shown he can handle multiple approaches with different team dynamics. He’s light-years ahead of where Patrick Roy ever was.
Jim Parsons is a freelance writer who covers the Edmonton Oilers and news and rumors posts here at The Hockey Writers.
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