In his first game as an NHL coach, Patrick Roy blew his top in a heated exchange with the entire Anaheim Ducks team, pushed over a glass partition that separates the benches and drew a game misconduct penalty.
Never mind his team won the game 6-1.
The Colorado Avalanche’s rookie coach has traded verbal jabs with veteran NHL coach Ken Hitchcock and called St. Louis Blues captain David Backes “gutless” for going after 18-year-old phenom Nathan MacKinnon.
The fiery Hall of Fame goalie must be something behind closed doors in his own locker room, right?
“We didn’t get yelled at all year,” Avalanche winger P.A. Parenteau said.
“I swear,” Parenteau said.
Really? Not one tirade directed at the players?
“I can’t recall one time,” defenseman Tyson Barrie said. “He’s always so positive.”
Yeah, but every coach has a volcanic eruption at least once, right?
“It might have happened one time, but barely a blowup,” captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “It was preseason.”
In a league saturated with clichés and coaches who always do things by the book, Roy’s coaching debut has been a breath of fresh air, and not just because he doesn’t lambaste his players.
He’s not afraid to try new strategy or to think unconventionally. He didn’t hesitate to pull his goalie with three minutes left in Game 1 with his team trailing the Wild by one goal. Asked afterward about the uniqueness of removing a goalie with that much time left, Roy basically shrugged and noted that he’s done that before with even more time on the clock.
Everything about his coaching style seems aggressive. He gives his players freedom to take chances without fear of consequences. He preaches offense and encourages his defensemen to jump into the play if they have an opening.
He inherited a youthful roster still learning the NHL game, but rather than hold a tight rein over his youngsters, Roy cut them loose and devised a system that maximizes their speed and creativity.
Roy coaches as if he’s unafraid of failure. If a move backfires, so be it. That mind-set breeds confidence inside his locker room.
“You just want to play hard for him,” Barrie said.
The turnaround that Roy has orchestrated in one season should make him a lock for NHL Coach of the Year honors. The Avs went from 29th in the league in points last season to third this year. They tied a franchise record for victories (52) and set a team record for road wins (26).