Roy facing several challenges with Avalanche

Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 6:22 PM
Adam Kimelman  - Deputy Managing Editor

The Colorado Avalanche finished 15th in the Western Conference and 29th in the League standings in 2012-13, and have missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs four of the past five seasons.

That led to a shake-up in the front office and coaching staff, with a pair of Hall of Famers from the franchise's glory days brought in with the hope of rebuilding the on-ice product.

Joe Sakic was hired May 10 as executive vice president of hockey operations, giving him full control of all hockey-related decisions. His first hire was former teammate Patrick Roy, who on Thursday agreed in principle to join the team as coach and vice president of hockey operations.

Sakic and Roy will be in charge of all player personnel decisions, and Roy will be the man in charge at ice level. The former goaltender has spent the past eight years coaching the junior hockey team he co-owns, the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and this will be his first job with an NHL team since he retired as a player in 2003.

Here are a few challenges facing the new Avalanche coach:

Readjusting to the NHL: Roy played 19 seasons in the League, but a lot has changed in the decade since he retired. How quickly will he be able to adjust to new players and a 30-team League? There also is the extensive travel and how that affects scheduling practices and days off.

He'll also have to determine, along with Sakic, what players he would want to add via free agency, trades or the draft, and how bringing in those players will affect the salary cap. Working in junior hockey isn't easy, but how quickly Roy adjusts to life in a suit in the NHL will determine his success.

Dealing with youngsters: The Avalanche iced one of the youngest teams in the League last season. The team won the right to pick first at the 2013 NHL Draft, so that means there's another young player to have to integrate into the roster. Most of the team's core is younger than 23, including 20-year-old captain Gabriel Landeskog and last season's co-leading scorer Matt Duchene, 22.

Dealing with younger players won't be a foreign concept for Roy -- his players in Quebec ranged in age from 16 to 20 -- but they weren't NHL players in search of ice time and a higher salary.

Determining a plan: Roy had a certain style of coaching that worked for him in the QMJHL. But he'll have to determine what elements of his game plans he can bring with him, and what he'll have to change.

Creating a winning culture: When Sakic was hired, he said one of his goals was building a winning tradition in the locker room, something that was there when he and Roy were part of a team that won the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001. But the Avalanche have finished 11th or worse in the conference three straight seasons, and that much losing can become a part of the franchise identity.

Roy's job is to change that as soon as next season. He won the Stanley Cup four times, and when he retired he had more wins than any NHL goaltender. He was able to build a consistent winner in the QMJHL, including a Memorial Cup champion in 2006.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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