CALGARY, AB - When defenceman Ryan Culkin was drafted by the Calgary Flames, his junior coach offered special insight into the organization he was joining.
“If you think I’m tough, wait till you meet Bob Hartley. He’s 10 times tougher.”
Those words of wisdom came from none other than Hockey Hall of Fame netminder, Patrick Roy, who was behind the bench for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL where Culkin has spent the past three seasons patrolling the blueline.
When Roy won his last Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001, his head coach was Bob Hartley, who now fills the same role with the Flames.
“If you think I’m tough, wait till you meet Bob Hartley. He’s 10 times tougher.” - Hockey Hall of Famer, Patrick Roy
Roy was known as a little bit of a hothead during his playing days; a guy who wears his emotion on his sleeve. It’s a personality trait that wasn’t quelled when he retired and later became the coach and general manager of the Remparts.
“He’s honestly one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for," Culkin said. "He’s hard on you, but he’s a winner. He expects to win every game.”
Part of the success the Remparts have experienced is because Roy treated his players like NHLers.
“We always have one on one video sessions. He tries to coach as if we are in the NHL, so we are really lucky to have him as a coach,” Culkin told CalgaryFlames.com during Flames development camp. “He’s been there and knows how to make it to the next level so I’ve been privileged to be coached by a legend.”
With Roy behind the bench, Culkin developed into a strong, puck moving defenceman who has shown an ability to contribute on the offensive end.
“There is still a lot of work to be done,” said Culkin, a native of Montreal, Quebec. “I’ve still got to get stronger, work harder and this development camp is helping me to judge where I’m at with all the guys. I think Patrick has done a great job developing me and I’m thankful for that.”
Cuklin, however, will be taking direction from a new face when he returns to the Remparts in September.
After biding his time in junior hockey, Roy jumped at the opportunity to return to the city where he experienced most of his playing success where he became the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche.
The departure of Roy left the Remparts with some big shoes to fill. They found another former NHLer to lead the organization in Phillippe Boucher. The former defenceman spent parts of 16 seasons in the NHL, winning a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 before retiring the following September.
“We have a new coach and a new GM," said Culkin. "I’ve only heard great things about Phillip Boucher so I expect nothing but the best. I hope I can have the same season as a did last year, maybe a bit better but we will see what happens."
“The Quebec Remparts are one of the best organizations to play for and they want the best for their players. I’ve been privileged.”