Gallagher: The Avs, and the A.V.-nots

 

 
 
 
 
Patrick Roy addresses the media as he is introduced as the new head coach and vice-president of hockey operations of the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday in Denver.
 

Patrick Roy addresses the media as he is introduced as the new head coach and vice-president of hockey operations of the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday in Denver.

Photograph by: Doug Pensinger, Getty Images

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The hiring of Patrick Roy in Colorado by the new boss Joe Sakic certainly brings a new look to the Avalanche franchise, given the emotion the former goalie will inject into the mix with that team.

It’s a fairly high-risk early move on Sakic’s part, but based on the way the Avs played most of last season and where they finished in the standings, the decision makes a lot of sense.

And really, there’s nowhere to go but up, nothing much to lose at all other than time. And injecting some fire into a room where goalie J.S. Giguere expressed concern about too many players worried about what was going on outside the rink certainly makes sense, Roy claiming to the press conference Tuesday his one goal was to “see the players playing with passion and heart every night.”

That certainly is one way to go. And is that the way the Vancouver Canucks should go?

Watching the way they played in the series against the San Jose Sharks it would be pretty easy to come to the conclusion they need some emotion injected.

It wasn’t until the third period of the last game that they showed even the remotest interest in competing, in reaching the level of the effort of which they were capable.

So why not a firebrand, particularly after a guy like Alain Vigneault, who was so remote from any connection with these guys? Such a person would be the perfect counterpoint, an exact opposite of what’s been hanging around.

That’s one way to look at it. But you might be wise to remember there is a huge difference in the rosters between Vancouver and the Avs.

The latter is loaded with young players who themselves aren’t far out of junior and will be fairly responsive to an approach from a guy who is fresh out of coaching juniors, Roy admitting he may have to make some adjustments dealing with pros after all the time he’s spent in the Quebec league.

The Canucks are a different story. They are loaded with veterans, many of whom have been with other teams, and while this roster needs a breath of fresh air, bringing in a guy like Roy would represent a huge risk of turnoff.

After Vigneault, anyone with a pulse is going to seem like a breath of fresh air. What they really need is a Dan Bylsma or Todd McLellan type with experience and intelligence, who will be actively involved in asking each veteran to give a little more in a little smarter way.

Guys of that pedigree are hard to find, of course, but Vancouver needs to concentrate on finding the next coach in that mould, and not really worry enormously about how much NHL time he’s had.

As Roy pointed out Tuesday, “100 per cent of the coaches in the NHL right now were rookies at one time.”

If the Roy experiment works in Denver, it could be a problem for Vancouver, although not to quite to the same degree it would have been without realignment. The Avs will have another great draft pick coming, and if they spring to life, they will do so in the other division.

Hence the Canucks would play them just three times, which is clearly better than the five they would have played under the new schedule had they been in the same division.

But if Vancouver doesn’t finish in the top three in their own division, a possibility seeing L.A., San Jose, and Anaheim are all in it, they would then be scrambling for one of the two wild-card spots with teams from the other Western division, the Avs perhaps being one of those teams.

Roy, of course, has his work cut out for him no matter how much fire he is able to lend to his charges. The Avs are still very young, they have holes, and we know how long everyone has been predicting the youthful Oilers would begin to make a move, only to see them continue to languish near the bottom of the standings. So while you would expect them to be better, how much is open to question.

The bigger question around here is in which direction the Canucks go for their new coach. The betting here is he won’t have much in common with Roy.

tgallagher@theprovince.com

twitter.com/tg_gman

 
 
 
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Patrick Roy addresses the media as he is introduced as the new head coach and vice-president of hockey operations of the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday in Denver.
 

Patrick Roy addresses the media as he is introduced as the new head coach and vice-president of hockey operations of the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday in Denver.

Photograph by: Doug Pensinger, Getty Images

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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