Pat Hickey: Egocentric Roy Shows he’s no Team Player—Again
That’s what the Canadiens would be getting if they brought Patrick Roy back to Montreal.
Roy stunned the Colorado Avalanche Thursday with his decision to quit as head coach and vice-president of hockey operations.
The decision touched off speculation that Roy would be next in line for the Canadiens’ coaching job when the team axes Michel Therrien.
Roy’s name carries some magic here because he played a key role in two Stanley Cup victories, including the last one in 1993. He’s arguably the best goaltender in NHL history, although you can also make an argument that he isn’t in the top three in Canadiens history.
But this week, he again showed that he’s a quitter.
Roy said he was leaving because he disagreed with Avalanche general manager and executive vice-president Joe Sakic.
“I have thought long and hard over the course of the summer about how I might improve this team to give it the depth it needs and bring it to a higher level,” Roy said in a statement released by National Public Relations whose partner and chairman is Canadiens co-owner Andrew Molson. “To achieve this, the vision of the coach and VP-Hockey Operations needs to be perfectly aligned with that of the organization. He must also have a say in the decisions that impact the team’s performance. These conditions are not currently met.”
Put simply, these are the words of a petulant child who’s taking his toys and going home. Roy’s history is that of someone who wants to run the show and he can’t accept it when his enormous ego isn’t front and centre.
He was like that as a player, and a healthy ego can be an asset when you’re striving to be the best. But his ego was a key factor when he quit on the Canadiens in 1995.
You can think what you want about Mario Tremblay’s abilities as a coach and the reality is that he was ill prepared for the task when he was plucked from the broadcasting booth to replace Jacques Demers two weeks into the 1995-96 season.
But he was still the coach and he deserved a measure of respect, which was never forthcoming from Roy. The goaltender was accustomed to being coddled by Demers and he didn’t take kindly to the new coach deciding who was going to be in the nets and when.
The tension between goaltender and coach reached the breaking point on Dec. 2 when Tremblay left Roy in the game until he had given up nine goals against Detroit in what would be an 11-1 win for the Red Wings. Roy, who felt humiliated, told team president Ronald Corey that he had played his last game as a Canadien and, a few days later, he was traded to Colorado.
The timing of Roy’s outburst was a major setback for the Canadiens. The Avalanche knew that Montreal had to trade their unhappy goaltender and they were dealing from a position of strength.
The timing of this week’s announcement is a disaster for the Avalanche, but it’s another example of Roy thinking only of himself.
He could have made the same decision after the regular season ended with his team missing the playoffs for a second consecutive year.
He could have made the same decision after looking at the team’s draft choices, headed by Tyson Jost, a Tier II junior star who’s headed to college.
He could have made the same decision after the Avalanche’s free-agent dealing was limited to the acquisition of two journeymen blue-liners.
He could have made the same decision before every team in pro hockey had locked up any coaches who could skate and blow a whistle at the same time.
If he had any respect for Sakic or the organization, which has paid him for the past three years, he would have given them time to find a decent coach.
Since announcing his decision to quit, Roy’s name has been linked to future employment in Montreal, Quebec City and Las Vegas. He will probably find another job, but any prospective employer should know he’s not a team guy and you never know when he’ll quit on you.