Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley has heard a lot in the past few days that former superstar players don't become great NHL coaches and that it's been a long time since a goalie has succeeded as a coach in the League.
Hartley, who coached Patrick Roy when the Colorado Avalanche won the 2001 Stanley Cup, said what he thinks will separate Roy as the new coach and vice president of hockey operations for his old team is his passion.
"He doesn't accept mediocrity," Hartley told NHL.com via phone from Saskatoon, where he is at the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup. "He never accepted it from himself. I think that's what he's going to bring to this organization. If you don't work hard, you might be sitting in the stands."
WATCH ROY PRESS CONFERENCE LIVE
The Colorado Avalanche will introduce Hockey Hall of Famer Patrick Roy as their next coach Tuesday in a press conference set for 3:30 p.m. ET.
The press conference will be shown live on the NHL Network and streamed on NHL.com.
Roy played for the Avalanche from 1995-96 until his retirement following the 2002-03 season. He led the team to Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001.
Roy has spent the past eight years coaching the junior hockey team he co-owns, the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Hartley cited the fact that one year after Roy retired from playing, he spent a year coaching bantam AA.
"You're a Hall of Famer, the winningest goalie at that time in hockey history, getting ready to coach bantam AA?" Hartley said. "There are not too many who would be ready to do this. He didn't do this for fun. He did this for investment purposes. He went on for eight years to the [Quebec Major Junior Hockey League]. Owner, GM, he was the coach. He's done a lot. I think that he paid his dues and felt Colorado was the right spot, and here he is."
For whatever reason, former goalies tend to become general managers, while defensemen and forwards trend toward coaching. However, Hartley said Roy told him before his playing days ended that he wanted to become a coach, so Roy began preparing with that in mind.
"I remember probably from 2000 on, many times I'd be talking with Patrick, he knew his career was coming to an end," Hartley said. "He'd say, 'I have maybe two, three, four more years to play and then I want to coach.' He was asking tons of questions, whether it was practices, games, preparation. I even saw him coach kids in Littleton -- that's a suburb of Denver where my son was playing too. Many times I would see Patrick before or after my son's practices. I'd see him behind the bench.
"He already had a passion for this. He would come and sit in my office, ask me tons of questions on my drills. You know, 'I like this, but why are putting emphasis on that details versus that detail? Why are we doing this?' It was all from the matter that he wanted to complete this and put in the bank so that he could use it later on."
When Roy moved on to coach the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL, he and Hartley often would discuss strategy.
"We would spend hours," Hartley said. "He would send me clips of his team over the Internet and we would get on the phone. I'd have my computer with these clips in front of me, he'd have his clips in front of him. We'd say 'Go' and we would watch the clips and I'd tell him, 'Stop and rewind and where are you on your counter?' All kinds of stuff. He would ask me, 'Why does that happen?' or 'What do you think?'
"He's a good student of the game. He's not afraid to ask questions. Any time I see him or any time I talk to talk him, it's always fun. I think we're two guys very passionate about the game. I always had lots of fun with him."
Hartley said he had been in touch with Roy in the days leading up to the announcement Thursday and Roy told him it probably would happen. Now, three players Hartley coached with the Avalanche are playing a large role in running the organization: executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic; Roy; and Craig Billington, who was Roy's backup and now serves as vice president of player development. Hartley said Billington and Roy were like "two brothers" as players.
"They're reunited again," Hartley said. "With Joe, you look at Patrick and Joe -- no disrespect to any other players -- but they were the two biggest elements in both Stanley Cups combined (in 1996 and 2001). You look at both Stanley Cups, there are no bigger guys than Sakic and Roy."
Roy and Hartley are famously competitive. Hartley knows how to get under his opponents' skin. As coach of the Atlanta Thrashers, he had colorful exchanges with Pat Quinn when Quinn coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and with Glen Hanlon when Hanlon coached the Washington Capitals.
Hartley and Roy have become good friends over the years. When Hartley coached the Thrashers, he said he would have Roy talk several times during the season for between 30 and 60 minutes with goalie Kari Lehtonen when Lehtonen was breaking into the League. During the lockout, Hartley said Roy's Remparts had a game in Victoriaville, so Hartley drove to spend some time with the junior team. Before Hartley took the Calgary job, they would talk on the phone to discuss junior players from near Hartley's area in Montreal.
Now they will compete against each other in the Western Conference, and that could test the friendship.
"It's going to be fun," Hartley said. "I'm obviously looking forward to this. Once I get behind the bench, I don't look at who's coaching behind the other bench. As a young coach when I was with the Avs, Scotty Bowman was in Detroit. We had a huge rivalry with Colorado and Detroit. I never caught myself into this, even though Scotty was my idol coaching the Montreal Canadiens when I was a kid. I always tried to focus on what will make me successful. I'm sure we're going to talk previous days and in the morning. He'll have a job and I'll have a job to do."