If you bet the under on the length of time it would take Patrick Roy to explode as a rookie NHL head coach, come on down and collect your winnings. Seconds after Roy's Avalanche toppled the Ducks 6--1 in the Oct. 2 season opener, an incensed Roy erupted over a knee-on-knee hit that Anaheim defenseman Ben Lovejoy had delivered to Colorado's prized rookie, Nathan MacKinnon, late in the game. While raining invective on Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, Roy dislodged a thick glass partition that separated the teams' benches. The league fined him $10,000, and Boudreau later called Roy's actions "bush league." Roy defended his outburst, saying, "I will always be behind my players.... It was what needed to be done."
Roy's penchant for cross-checking the lines of decorum may be just what the timid Avalanche need after missing the playoffs in four of the last five seasons. The club knew exactly what to expect when it hired Roy and gave him significant say in the club's managerial decisions. In winning four Stanley Cups and a record 151 playoff games, the Hall of Famer left behind a trail of hellfire and bombast.
After lifting the Cup twice with the Canadiens, the Quebec native stormed his way out of Montreal in 1995, when Habs coach Mario Tremblay left him in to absorb a nine-goal shellacking in December. As he skated off the ice, Roy told team president Ronald Corey, who was in the stands, that he had played his last game in Montreal. Corey dealt him to Colorado later that week. During the playoffs that season, Roy dismissed criticisms from Chicago forward Jeremy Roenick, who had never won a title, saying, "I can't really hear what Jeremy says because I've got my two Stanley Cup rings plugging my ears." Roy also twice challenged goalies of the rival Red Wings to fights, getting punched out by Mike Vernon in March 1997 and earning a decision over lightweight Chris Osgood the next year.
This young Colorado team—flush with forwards Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O'Reilly, Matt Duchene and MacKinnon, who are all under 23—is searching for its identity. Its new leader, a wolf in coach's clothing, might give it the bite it's been looking for.
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY NICOLE ZIGMONT: JACK DEMPSEY/AP (ROY)