Well, this isn’t good news for the Central Division.
Today Patrick Roy, the anchor that had been holding out, when not outright destroying, at least a decently talented Avalanche squad, resigned as coach as half-GM or whatever it was they labeled him. I’d like to think he lost a power struggle with Joe Sakic, mostly because Sakic might have one clue where St. Patrick didn’t have any.
What this means for this year of course hinges on who the Avs hire and what he does. The Avs aren’t loaded or anything, but this isn’t a completely helpless roster either. It comes with pretty good center depth if Matt Duchene is moved back to center, which he obviously should be. MacKinnon-Dutch-Soderberg-Grigorenko is not the worst start.
The Avs also sport J.T. Compher, who we may soon come to find out was carrying Tyler Motte’s ass all over Ann Arbor on his way to nearly being two points-per-game last season for the Wolverines. There is stuff here.
The defense has no true top pairing guy, and there’s a hearse following Francois Beauchemin at all times. Beauchemin smelled badly of an overpayment to satisfy Roy’s desires. But they correctly paid Tyson Barrie who can really drive the play. Erik Johnson is never going to live up to being drafted #1 over Jonathan Toews, but he is a pretty good rhythm guitarist back there. If whoever they hire can coax whatever it is out of Patrick Wiercioch that the Senators couldn’t might end up with quite the player as well. There’s also a goalie here who has declined for the two years since his Vezina win, but he’s also been bombarded with shots and odd-man breaks as his coach didn’t actually have a defensive plan.
If you squint, you could see where the Avs have the firepower to at least get on the heels of the Wild or Jets, if not leap over them.
Sadly, we’ll miss perforating Roy for all his decisions, because he was clearly the worst coach in the league. His call at the end of last season to change all the leaders and front line players in the room were a clear indication of why he took Gabriel Three-Yaks-And-A-Dog from a promising, two-way left wing who did everything right to a wannabe axe murderer. It’s clear that Roy didn’t want Barrie around, not recognizing the game has changed and you need what Barrie does and you can’t make a blue line simply out of atom-smashers. You’ll get beaten to the outside routinely, and the Avs did.
The Avs never had a plan on the ice with Roy, who got two more years than he should have simply because Varlamov bailed his ass out every game his first year. The gaps between his lightning forwards and his plodding blue line was always utterly hilarious. His tough guy act full of shit. His shielding of Varlamov the day after his arrest shameful. It was always a weird juxtaposition of Sakic, long considered one of the gentlemen of the as well as one of its greatest players, having to coexist with this hothead behind his bench. Avs fans should hope it is Sakic who won out here.
I hate it when dumb teams threaten to get competent.