Well the Colorado Avalanche blew the doors off the Anaheim Ducks to open their season with a 6-1 beat down, but that wasn’t the story coming out of the Pepsi Center. At the end of the game, Patrick Roy and Bruce Boudreau went after each other on the benches. The whole ordeal ended with Patrick Roy unhinging the partition and nearly pushing it over onto the Ducks’ head coach.
The NHL responded to this incident by fining Roy $10,000, but even with this discipline coming down from the NHL, everything that has transpired with Patrick Roy as head coach has shown he is absolutely the right coach for this team.
It wasn’t just Patrick Roy exploding, it was the entire Colorado Avalanche offense. The Avalanche scored six goals, two of them on the power play. Perhaps the most encouraging part of Colorado’s offensive performance was how they actually seemed to get more confident the farther the game went. In the past couple of seasons, the Avalanche always seemed to get nervous any time they had a lead. It was almost like they always expected to be playing from behind and were so out of their element with a lead that they, quite literally, didn’t know what to do.
This time around, the Avalanche did something that they just haven’t thought to do in the past few seasons. Rather than change up the way the team played once they gained a lead, the Avalanche kept with the game plan that was working. Strangely enough, not only did the Avalanche hold onto the lead, the extended it. This shows Roy’s steady hand as a coach and his confidence in his players. There isn’t a need to change up the game plan when things are going well and it can mess with a team’s psyche.
One of the biggest criticisms of former coach, Joe Sacco, was that he never really showed any emotion during games. Perhaps an even more accurate statement was that Sacco was just plain too detached from the game as a whole. Avalanche beat writer for The Denver Post, Adrian Dater, wrote a piece mentioning this after the first preseason game with two photos showing the stark contrast in coaches.
This was on display again during the first game of the season, as well. When the camera would switch over to a view of Roy, he’s constantly engaged. Talking to his players, both on the bench and on the ice. He’s talking with his assistant coaches. Even though he isn’t wearing pads or a jersey, he is constantly involved and working throughout every second of every game. This absolutely trickles down and it becomes that much more apparent when you look at how detached the players seemed from the games a season ago. Or, as Justin Goldman of The Goalie Guild put it.
Galvanizing the Team and the Fans
A little more than 12 hours after this first game, Avalanche fans are absolutely buzzing. Yes, it is only one game and there is still a lot for this team to prove and a lot that this team needs to improve upon, but improving where you find the Colorado Avalanche in the standings was only one of the things Patrick Roy was hired to do. Roy was brought in to help improve the team’s image with the fans, and he’s already done that. Ask Avalanche fans about Patrick Roy and they remember goalie fights and Stanley Cups, knowing that he will do anything to win and do anything for his teammates. He’s now shown that same mentality and image as a coach.
Since being named head coach of the Avalanche, Roy has made a lot of comments about wanting to make sure the fans were proud of their team. Thus far, Roy has done nothing but deliver on this for the fans. The team is more open than it has ever been, the team is treating its players better than they have in a long time with contract extensions, Roy engages with the players closely and works with them during practices and shows how much he cares and wants to win during the games as well. All of these have more reporters in Denver talking about hockey in their columns, more radio programs daring to allow the word “hockey” to escape their lips while on the air, and has the fan base galvanized and interested in the team again. Patrick Roy is exactly what the Colorado Avalanche needed.
I’m a Denver native who has been a fan of the Avalanche since they came to town and a fan of the game before that. I started writing my own blog a couple years ago before moving to Bleacher Report and becoming a Featured Columnist there. You can also find me the Burgundy Brigade Podcast