The day after being eliminated from the playoffs for the second straight year, Colorado head coach Patrick Roy went on Denver’s 104.3 The Fan and — in a lengthy, occasionally contentious interview — had some pretty harsh assessments of his team.
“I think our core needs to show more leadership,” Roy said, echoing remarks made after Sunday’s ugly 5-1 loss to the Blues. “It was like this when I played for Montreal, it was like this when I played for the Avs.
“The core are the ones that have to carry the team. They’re the ones where, when you lose a game, it has to hurt from the inside. You should want more.”
Leadership, or a lack thereof, has been a recurring topic in Colorado.
Back in ’13-14 — when the Avs racked up 52 wins and 112 points en route to the playoffs — the team was exciting, but incredibly inexperienced. Gabriel Landeskog was fresh off being named the youngest captain in NHL history, and the club’s top four scorers — Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly and Nathan MacKinnon — were all 23 or younger.
Roy said the club has since made a conscious effort to bring in veterans like Jarome Iginla, Francois Beauchemin and Blake Comeau, but noted those additions are peripheral — support guys, if you will. The difficulty for Roy and GM Joe Sakic still lies with the core.
“The first thing, and it’s been our challenge, is to change the culture,” Roy explained. “It’s kind of funny — I read some articles that said ‘enough babying these guys, you gotta be tougher.’
“Then I’m tougher, and people are mad at me. And if I’m too soft, people are mad at me.”
Things really boiled over for Roy in the aforementioned loss to St. Louis, during which Duchene whooped it up after scoring his 30th goal of the year — a goal that came with the Avs trailing 4-0.
Roy said he had a “hard time” with the celebration, saying it’s “not the [reaction] we want from our guys.”
The Duchene incident led to more talk about Colorado’s leadership dynamic, and Roy got after it again on Wednesday morning, going so far as to suggest changes still needed to be made within the Avs’ room.
“My belief is our mindset needs to change,” he explained. “That’s the conversation I have with [Sakic] when we’re talking about ‘we need to be stronger mentally,’ and ‘we need to bring character players inside of this dressing room.’ That’s what we’ve been trying to do.”
At this point, it’s probably worth noting two things: 1) Even though head coaches are hired to be fired, Roy swings a pretty big hammer in Colorado. He and Sakic are tight, dating back to their playing days together with the Avs.
That ties into, 2) Roy’s front office role. Though his coaching duties are first and foremost, he’s still the VP of hockey ops and has a say in personnel decisions. Which means the above comments loom large.
Know what else looms large? Roy’s reply, when 104.3 The Fan asked what his emotions were right now.
“I’m very disappointed and very frustrated,” he said. “It’s unacceptable that we didn’t make the playoffs.”