LAS VEGAS -- Patrick Roy was able to claim the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's best coach Tuesday night at the NHL Awards despite, in his words, having little to do with winning the honor.
"I know why I am receiving this trophy: Because I have a group of players that made a commitment and bought into what we wanted to do and they had in mind to surprise the world of hockey and that is exactly what we have done by winning the Central Division," Roy said shortly after beating out Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings and John Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning. "It's a special group … I cannot thank them enough."
2013-14 Adams Award Voting -- Top 10
In 2012-13, the Avalanche finished No. 29 in the League and last in the Western Conference. They hired Roy, who won the Stanley Cup twice with Colorado as its goalie, to right the ship.
This season, the Avalanche won the Central Division, finishing with the third best record in the NHL, before falling to the Minnesota Wild in seven games in the Western Conference First Round.
According to Avalanche forward Ryan O'Reilly, Roy is being far too modest in downplaying his impact on Colorado's turnaround.
"He had a lot to do with it," said O'Reilly, who won the Lady Byng Award on Tuesday. "All throughout the year he reinforced that whatever we do to do it intense and to do as best we could. There were times we could have relaxed a bit, but he kept us going. He made adjustments when he needed to. Without those adjustments there's no way we win the division in the situation we were in."
But O'Reilly admitted Roy's modesty did play a part in the Avalanche's success as well. He said Roy did not come in as a big shot, showing off his credentials and demanding respect. Instead, he earned that respect from the players, and they responded appropriately.
"One of the things I find that helped me have a successful year is with [Roy] he comes in and he is one of the most decorated goalies and he has won everything in hockey and he treats everyone as equals," O'Reilly said. "He doesn't single guys out. He takes them aside. He has a respect for everyone and treats everyone the same. Guys tend to play a bit harder for him because we respect that more. It's a great quality that not many coaches have."
For his part, Roy admitted some surprise in being at the NHL Awards again. He figured once he walked away from the game as a player, his trips to the end-of-season gala had ended as well. So, when the opportunity came to go to the 2014 edition with a chance to claim another honor, Roy embraced it for all it was worth.
"I was trying to not expect anything from it to be honest," Roy said of whether he thought he would win. "I understood that I was against coaches [who] had outstanding years, and that's exactly what John and Mike have done with their teams. Being here was probably the thing I was very excited about. When I retired, I never thought it would be possible. It's fun to see it happening."
Now, though, he has a Jack Adams Award to add to all the other individual awards Roy won during a playing career that landed him in the Hockey Hall of Fame. But he says he can't compare winning something as a player to winning a different award as a coach.
"When you are a player, you always focus on team goals, and at the end if you are up for the Vezina [Trophy] or the Jennings [Trophy] or winning a Stanley Cup or a Conn Smythe, you are happy. All year, we focused on one day at a time. All year, we focused on partnership, trust and respect.
"That is what I prefer thinking of [rather] than saying is it more important to win the Jack Adams or a Vezina or a Conn Smythe Trophy. I'm proud of everything I have been doing as a player and now I am very happy to be in this position."