Sports Hockey


Avalanche makes splash by hiring Hall of Famer as coach

By Mike Zeisberger, Toronto Sun

Quebec Remparts co-owner, GM and coach Patrick Roy, who's also a Hall of Fame goalie, was hired Thursday to run the Colorado Avalanche bench.
(QMI Agency file photo)

Quebec Remparts co-owner, GM and coach Patrick Roy, who's also a Hall of Fame goalie, was hired Thursday to run the Colorado Avalanche bench. (QMI Agency file photo)

With apologies to NHL head coaching candidates Dallas Eakins, Alain Vigneault, Lindy Ruff and even Dave Tippett, it’s unlikely that any of their potential hirings down the road will make a bigger splash than the one that took place in Denver on Thursday.

After all, the flamboyant Patrick Roy rarely took a back seat to anyone during his playing days. And he’s not about to do so now.

The announcement by the Colorado Avalanche that Roy had officially become head coach was a surprise to no one, especially after his brother, Stephane Roy, recently leaked the two sides were close.

At the same time, did anyone really think Roy, one of the strongest personalities the sport has ever seen, would settle for just being a bench boss? Of course not.

The longtime coach/general manager of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts obviously wanted a say in the overall running of the Avs. And, in the end, he’ll get the power he was looking for after also being appointed the team’s vice-president of hockey operations.

“This is an unbelievable day for me,” Roy said. “Almost 10 years to the day that I announced my retirement as a player, I am back in Denver and hope the fans are as excited as I am.”

Earlier this month, Roy’s ex-teammate, Joe Sakic, took over as the Avs’ executive VP of operations. Having won two Cups together as players with the Avs, the Sakic-Roy combination is now poised to lead the team back to prominence.

While Roy’s return to Denver should help ticket sales, don’t underestimate his ability to coach. This is the same Patrick Roy who led the Remparts to a 348-196 record and a 2006 Memorial Cup title.

Perhaps the most interesting sidebar to Roy’s hiring is how it will affect the Avs’ first overall selection in the upcoming NHL draft.

While Portland defenceman Seth Jones was expected by many observers to be taken by the Avs, keep in mind that Roy has coached against Halifax star forward Nathan MacKinnon and could use his new-found influence in the Avs’ front office to go in that direction.

Whatever the case, stay tuned. Because when Patrick Roy is on the scene, things are never boring.


A handful of prominent media voices in Vancouver are beating the drums for Marlies coach Eakins to replace the recently fired Vigneault. But, according to the Maple Leafs’ VP of hockey operations Dave Poulin, there had been no inquires about Eakins’ availability as of Thursday evening.

“No one has asked permission to talk to him as of yet,” Poulin told Sun Media. “At least they haven’t been in touch with me about it.”

That could change shortly. Eakins, who has led the Marlies deep into the AHL post-season the past two seasons, has a caveat in his contract that would allow him to leave for an NHL job.

There has been a school of thought via social media that Eakins’ stock is high right now partially because he works in the spotlight of Toronto. Such thinking is naive. Whether it has been his success on the ice or in producing NHL-ready players such as Nazem Kadri and James Reimer, this guy comes by his respected reputation legitimately.

“Dallas has won with the Marlies. He has also developed players for the Leafs. He’s done an excellent job doing both,” Poulin said.

“Whatever he decides, he will be very comprehensive and methodical in his decision. He likes Toronto. His family likes it here. He’s in a unique situation.”

Let’s see if the Canucks or Dallas Stars can woo him away.


At first glance, you would think Ruff, a veteran coach, should be the leading candidate in Vancouver. But if the Canucks are headed for a youth movement — there are whispers the Sedins are leaning toward heading back to Sweden when their deals run out after the 2013-14 season — would not a developmental coach such Eakins be a better fit? ... An intriguing name being floated around as a possible candidate for the Canucks is that of Tippett, whose deal with Phoenix runs out this summer. Has any coach done more with less in the past five years? No way ... Scott Arniel, the coach of the Canucks’ Chicago farm team, will also be considered ... Vigneault, Eakins and Tippett are expected to be looked at for the Dallas Stars coaching vacancy, as well ... Meanwhile, reports out of Arizona indicate the Coyotes could be close to inking GM Don Maloney to a new deal.


Rangers coach John Tortorella’s head-scratching decision to scratch Brad Richards for Game 4 against the Bruins on Thursday caused him to be ripped by former NHLers ... Tweeted Brett Hull via @2ndBestHull: “Coach T has lost his mind Richards has ability to change a games outcome” #90%offlcoachesaredumbthatswhytheyarecoaches ... Tweeted Marc Savard via @MSavvy91: “Tortorella should get fired right after the game he has ruined all of his players confidence” #Richardswillget80pointsnextyear #ByeByeTorts ... Richards, who signed a nine-year, $60-million deal with the Rangers in 2011, could be a likely candidate for a compliance buyout in the off-season. So, too, could Flyers centre Daniel Briere, who told Sun Media’s Steve Simmons that he’s pretty sure he’ll be bought out even though he wants to stay.

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