Everybody forgets this about Patrick Roy’s final season with the Avalanche as coach: The team was among the top eight in the Western Conference with 11 games to go. The Avs were a playoff team under Roy to that point, before Matt Duchene got hurt, Semyon Varlamov finally proved mortal and Roy lost patience with them and several other key members of his group.

Would any of the Roy rip-job artists like to apologize now and admit they were wrong? I’m not holding my breath on that. But it’s an indisputable fact now, now that the Avalanche is not much better than an AHL team: Roy was not the problem.

It’s been hilarious watching the Roy bashers, who said it was all about his wrong system as to why things went so bad at the end of last year, dine on heaping helpings of crow as the Avs become more and more of a carnival act. The fact is, as is becoming clearer every day, Roy may have been the only reason why the Avs were as competitive as they were in his three years at the helm.

Look, I’m not saying Patrick Roy was the second coming of Scotty Bowman. But, jeez, isn’t it clear now that Roy was something of a magician getting as much out of his rosters as he did? Keep in mind: Roy won a division title his first year on the job. If the NHL’s season had ended after 71 games last year, he would have been a playoff coach again too. The sandwich year of the three, he had a (technically) winning record.

Strava Coffee 728

But Jared Bednar was supposed to be the guy who “got it” as a new breed of coach, who understood what it took to be a puck-possession team, who knew the ins and outs of system hockey. Roy was too old-school, a subject of mockery to the analytics crowd after he dared question their analysis of what it took to be a winner in today’s hockey.

As Dr. Phil might ask the Roy critics: How’s that workin’ for ya? Night after night, we keep seeing Bednar do his best impression of a deer caught in the headlights. The latest embarrassment was Saturday’s 6-1 loss in Winnipeg, completing another win-less Avs road trip.

The problem with the analytics crowd in hockey has been and continues to be: What is the proper definition of “the system?” How is “the system” differentiated from adequate talent to implement such a system?

I’m no Roy apologist. I covered the guy for nearly nine years as a player and three more as a coach. He was impossible to get to really get to know, could double-cross you on any number of things (and not think twice about it) and the amount of humility in his body would fit comfortably into a thimble.

But he is among the smartest people about the game that I’ve ever been around at least. It might be hard to diagram on a fancy analytics pie chart, but Roy had gut instincts and insights about the game that, as anyone who has ever been around him as a teammate or player or other regular acquaintance, continues to marvel over.

He failed to make the playoffs his final two years on the job with Colorado, and, sure, he made some mistakes probably. We still don’t know how much of a say he had in some of the bad trades the team made in his time as coach, but he can’t be let off the hook entirely even though he didn’t have Joe Sakic’s title as general manager. Roy did have the added title of vice president of hockey operations, along with head coach, don’t forget. He no doubt had a major say in the big moves of those three years, including the Ryan O’Reilly-to-Buffalo deal for his former junior player (Mikhail Grigorenko) and others, and the Alex Tanguay deal with Arizona that cost them very promising defensive prospect Kyle Wood.

Roy the front-office guy might have been a liability to Roy the coach. Still, Sakic had and continues to have the higher placement on the organization’s pyramid chart. It’s become clear that Roy lost a power struggle with Sakic and the rest of his allies in the organization during the off-season, over personnel decisions on and off the ice.

That was a good thing, according to Roy’s many critics at the time.

Hey, just one question now, eight months later:

How’s that workin’ for ya?

Adrian Dater

Adrian Dater is a staff writer with BSNDenver. He started his journalism career way, way back in 1988 as a proofreader with the Concord Monitor as a kid out of college (Keene State College), and has wended its way since with a 25-year stop at The Denver Post, 20 of which were spent as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche, from its inception in 1995. Adrian has also worked as a primary hockey writer with Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The Hockey News, Versus.com and Bleacher Report. He is the author of seven sports books, including the best-selling “Blood Feud: Colorado Avalanche v. Detroit Red Wings, The Inside Story of Pro Sports’ Nastiest and Best Rivalry of Its Era” and “100 Things Avalanche Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die”, which was published in October, 2016.

  • Zach Diggy

    This article seems like you personally Dater had a problem with people putting blame on Roy? Its interesting how you portray Roy with “The team was among the top eight in the Western Conference with 11 games to go” although following that the team only won 2 games of the last 10 games with Roy. Not much of a push for the playoffs. Lastly, why is this relevant today? The team has some major issues, we all know that. With or without Roy its debatable where this team would be. Regardless, why not focus on todays problems and the improvements this club can hopefully take going forward.

    • jpwheels

      It wasn’t long after the Avs slide started that Dater started taking shots (via tweets and on podcasts) at fans who had criticized Roy’s inability to coach.
      There was a big uproar from lots of fans last year about Roy being a bad coach with a bad system. But I sure don’t recall many folks saying that he was the only reason the team was bad — most also acknowledged the team needed player upgrades as well.
      One other point: just because the team has imploded this year under Bednar, it sure as hell doesn’t mean Roy could coach.

  • mikeladen

    AD you lost a lot of credibility when you suggested Pierre La Garbage who set this slide to the bottom in motion, could resurrect this team.

  • Pixelrebirth

    I agree that the issues was the players… but Roy was instrumental in getting those very players on this team to begin with. Roy wouldn’t have saved this embarrassing season.. that is why he ran. Maybe things would have been better with no Barrie and Radulov .. a couple moves speculated Roy wanted.

    What I do know is JB and Roy have extreme opposite strategies. Roy’s system didnt work in the NHL, but did for the type of players, Bednar’s system flat out does not work with these players, but will in the NHL.

    My concern is Bednar has lost the room… hate to say it but this coaching tenure is akin to a rebound from a bad relationship.

    Your main point definitely holds true though. These players are not good. Cannot wait for UFA to kick in. Sakic better be superman this summer. It is his last chance IMO.

    • jpwheels

      Excellent comments.
      Your second paragraph really stands out to me. I haven’t seen any Roy/Bednar comparison stated that way before. And I think it’s spot on.

    • Tanthalas

      The system doesn’t fit the players is really your reasoning for a team having one of the most embarrassing seasons in NHL history?

      • Colorado_Superchronics

        If you knew how to read you would of also read that he Agrees,”…that the issues was the players.”
        Numb nuts, use your eyes instead of trying to be a dick Tanthalas.

        • Tanthalas

          I read what he said, thanks. Yes, he thinks the players aren’t very good, but he also made the claim that a supposedly good system that will work at the NHL level just doesn’t fit them to justify their exceptionally poor performance (basically, excusing the coaching entirely and just chocking up the performance to the players and the system not being right for them). Sorry if I’m not buying that.
          Yes it’s on the players, but it’s clearly on the coaching too.

  • Avsfan2119

    Let’s look at some actual indisputable facts. The Avs got worse every single year under Roy, the first year with a team mainly of guys he had no choice in picking was when they were at their best (which still took one of the greatest seasons of goaltending ever from Varlamov and he should have won every award possible) every year he was able to put his stamp on the team after, it got worse and worse.

    Then there’s how last year ended. Remember when the Wild lost something like 6 straight and all these playoff competitive Avs had to do was win some games? How’d that work out? As I recall, they matched the Wild loss for loss and even took it a step further. This collapse began under Roy last year and I’m pretty confident that the team would have stunk under him too if he hadn’t acted like a child and took his pucks and went home when he didn’t get his way.

    Bednar has been a successful coach up until he got to and crumbling Avs organization, you think that’s a coincidence with less than a month before the season began? I don’t. Maybe he’s not the answer but he deserves a fair shot with some actual NHL players, not just a bunch of bargain bin crap the Avs and, Patrick Roy, scraped up and gave stupid contracts to.

    • Max Power

      this is the second post I’ve read from Avsfan2119 thats been lights out bang on. keep it up man, I like the way you think.

      • Avsfan2119

        Thanks man, I get the odd one right, I hope haha.

    • jpwheels

      Good points…especially the one about the Wild. They slid back to the Avs, Roy didn’t have the Avs playing so well the team was knocking down walls to get into the dance.

  • Max Power

    dammit why did BSN hire this clown? if I wanted these kind of takes, I’d go read the denverpost. this site was my one go to for solid Avalanche news and opinion and now thats sullied with Dater here. first he cant even put up the player grades on one of his first assignments here and the past few articles have been ripping the players and now the coaching staff. just unreal. this guy didnt even know who J.T. Compher was…..you’re so out of touch with this team Dater how can anyone give your opinion any value?

    • jpwheels

      Too funny!…and I agree about the player grades piece.
      The effort on that was nothing less that pure laziness and apathy.
      It’s fairly rare when the entire team sucks in any given game — there always seems to be one or two guys who play at least decently. And even if every single player was terrible, a little blurb about each as to how/why that was & maybe a little something about what needs to improve isn’t too much to ask. It was being done before. But, nah, Dater couldn’t be bothered.

      • Max Power

        @jpwheels absolutely agree with your previous post as well. I completely understand this team makes covering them extremely difficult at the moment and after that game in particular it would have been even more so. but its your chance to make a first impression on the site and you throw in the towel right off the bat? thats a sign of bad work ethic and isnt going to endear you to a new audience

  • Ryan James McManus

    Dater how about pointing out the fact that an icon these players have looked up to their entire lives as a player and then as a coach all of sudden quit on them.
    For a team that already lacked confidence, that situation, I’m sure didn’t help.
    You also forgot to note that after losing our way out of the playoffs, we lost boedker and mathias and signed three unwanted players from teams that did not make the playoffs. Sakic did nothing to help Bednar and Roy did nothing to help the players confidence which was already evidently missing.
    Roys sudden departure hurt this team and this team is hurting Bednar. Get a roster thats not made entirely of 4th liners and ahl players and If Bednar still loses than thats his fault but this entire current situation has more to do with Roy still than it does with Bednar.
    Dater you and Nadia over at Mile High Report should sit down and reminisce your loves for Roy.