Without Roy, NHL coaching is more reasonable … and less interesting


As ludicrous as the timing of Patrick Roy’s departure really is for a coaching search, be happy for Colorado Avalanche fans. By most accounts, Roy’s coaching leaves a lot to be desired.

While you can debate that notion, there’s little denying this much: the NHL isn’t as interesting without Roy.

Yes, the Avalanche might technically be a little more exciting with a coach who can better utilized what is still a talented – if flawed – core. (Imagine speedy, sublimely skilled Nathan MacKinnon playing in an attacking style like that of the Mike Sullivan Pittsburgh Penguins, for instance.)

Even so, in an increasingly cookie-cutter league, Roy was an oddball. For those of us who enjoy the wackier side of the game, his departure is a great loss.

The Avalanche are “immediately” searching for a new coach, a process that will no-doubt be challenging considering the context. One challenge they’re unlikely to surmount: finding a stranger coach.

Will any team dominate the bottom of possession stats quite as consistently as Roy’s Avalanche did over the years?

Who will evoke Roy’s former coach Marc Crawford in screaming at Bruce Boudreau with only the glass to separate the two bench bosses?*

Who will boldly empty his net during times when other coaches would merely cross their fingers for an opportune power-play to bail them out?

At least we should take solace in the Jack Adams Award continuing to feel like a flavor of the month trophy, though:

With scoring down, goalies adopting nearly identical techniques and teams slowly – often begrudgingly – giving analytics at least a token glance, the NHL feels like it’s slipping toward homogenization.

We’re likely to see fewer and fewer outright maddening decisions as hockey’s executives gradually become more sophisticated.

That’s mostly a good thing, but sometimes (particularly during the dog days of 82-game seasons) we’ll miss the comic relief/madness of Roy’s dying breed.

* – OK, OK, the answer is “John Tortorella,” but still … the numbers are in decline.