Patrick Roy's resignation as coach and vice president of hockey operations of the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday caught defenseman Erik Johnson, and his teammates, by surprise.
"I was skating at the practice rink and when I got off the ice, [I] had a couple missed calls from [Roy] and I'm like, 'Oh god, I got traded, where am I going?'" Johnson said on Altitude Sports Radio 950 in Denver. "I guess you don't really think the news would be Patty stepping down, but I talked to him on the phone. He just said it was time for him to go and he didn't elaborate too much."
Johnson, 28, has spent six seasons with Colorado after being acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 19, 2011. He was the No. 1 pick by St. Louis in the 2006 NHL Draft.
"I had a bunch of phone calls right after the news broke from different guys, and everyone was super upset because of how much we loved playing for Patty and it's going to be tough for sure, it's going to be an adjustment," Johnson said. "At the end of the day, the players have to be [upset] at themselves. I mean, I'm mad at myself; I'm sure there are a ton of guys that are mad at themselves because if we played better and won, this wouldn't be happening.
"I don't want to share too much of the intricate details of what we talked about, but from the players' perspective, myself and probably 90 percent of my teammates, which is a lot on any team because no coach is going to have everyone that loves him, but I can tell you that probably over 90 percent of the guys loved playing for Patty. We respected him, we thought he was a great coach and we'll all really miss him."
Johnson has 39 goals and 90 assists with a minus-27 rating in 326 regular-season games for the Avalanche. He had 32 goals and 89 points in three seasons under Roy, crediting him with turning around his career, saying one of the things that made Roy great was his ability to adapt his approach to each player.
As for a new coach, Johnson didn't speculate on possible replacements on the Avalanche staff, but he didn't think there would be a shortage of potential coaches interested in the job.
"I would assume coaches would be falling over themselves to coach this team," Johnson said. "While we haven't gotten the results we've wanted over the past couple of years, the talent's there, and if you look at our top three forwards, our defense, our goalie, there's a lot of upper-echelon talent there and I think a lot of coaches would like to form it into a winning team, which I know we can be."