Patrick 3 cups

MONTREAL -- It was Oct. 2, 2013, in Denver, not even 60 full minutes into his NHL coaching career, and Patrick Roy was melting down.

The freshly minted coach of the Colorado Avalanche -- hired Saturday as coach of the New York Islanders -- was red in the face, veins popping, blood pressure spiking, as he violently shook the glass partition separating his team’s bench from that of the visiting Anaheim Ducks.

It was late in the game, and Roy was worked up by -- no, he was losing his mind over -- a knee-on-knee collision between Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy and Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft just over three months earlier.

Colorado’s new coach had arrived behind his first NHL bench with blood that historically was within a degree of a boil, so proven during his entire playing career and as a major-junior coach in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as he charted a path to Denver.

That intensity, in many ways, is what made Roy a four-time winner of the Stanley Cup -- two with the Montreal Canadiens, two more with the Avalanche.

Fire in the belly is what made Roy one of the greatest who has ever strapped on the pads, a template for a generation of goalies as he played his way to a 2006 induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Emotion is what famously ended Roy’s time in Montreal in 1995 when he butted heads with Canadiens coach Mario Tremblay. Left in the net for nine Detroit Red Wings goals, Roy finally was given the hook. It was then that he stormed past Tremblay behind the Montreal Forum bench to tell team president Ronald Corey that he had played his final game for the team.

Which, in fact, he had, this head-on collision between two colossal egos -- his and Tremblay’s -- triggering the goalie’s trade to the Avalanche in a multiplayer deal that remains a fresh wound to many Canadiens fans.'s Dan Rosen discusses Patrick Roy hiring

Emotion no doubt played at least a role in Roy’s stunning August 2016 announcement that he was quitting the Avalanche as coach and vice president of hockey operations, citing philosophical differences with management.

And it’s emotion that the Islanders hope and trust that Roy will bring to Long Island in his second assignment behind an NHL bench.

Last June, Roy had NHL coaching only in the back of his mind, at least publicly, having just guided Quebec of the QMJHL to the 2023 Memorial Cup championship.

“It’s hard for me to get a job because of the way I left Colorado,” he told four days after that victory, his voice weary with fatigue. 

“I know I made some bad choices. I know the way I left, everything I did, could have an effect on today’s perspective on myself. I have to live with that. I know that I’ve learned from my mistakes. The past is the past but sometimes, you have to live with your past. I understand the situation.”

Roy Memorial Cup

In Denver, Roy’s dual role didn’t mesh, as he viewed it, with the vision of the Colorado organization and then-executive vice president and general manager Joe Sakic, who today is president of hockey operations. 

“I understand now, better than ever, that you can’t be in management and coach a team at the same time,” Roy said last June. “If you’re the coach, you coach. If you’re GM, that’s what you do.”

With the Islanders, Roy will quickly learn to work with Lou Lamoriello, the president of hockey operations and GM, who is renowned for being of strong mind and purpose.

It’s been more than a decade since the final siren of Roy’s first game as an NHL coach -- a 6-1 victory -- that saw him pounding on the glass and screaming at Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau; if the glass had toppled, arena staff might still be cleaning up the mess.

The NHL fined Roy $10,000 for the outburst. Boudreau would call Roy’s explosion “bush league.” He added, “[Roy is] going to be in for a long year if he’s going to yell at every player and yell at the refs at every stoppage of play. It’s not the way the game is played.”

The following day, Roy’s blood was down to a simmer.

“I guess I have to change a few things,” he said. “I got the $10,000 fine by the League for that. I understand it now. At the same time, I will always defend my players. … This is the way I dealt with this one. Will I deal with it differently next time? Maybe. Or maybe not.”

Intensity was Roy’s middle name as a goalie, both in Montreal and Colorado. Stir supreme confidence into the pot; add more than a dash of arrogance.

In 1993, there was his cocky “You can’t beat me” wink at Tomas Sandstrom of the Los Angeles Kings, the Canadiens on their way to their 10th consecutive overtime victory in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final en route to a championship.

In 1996 with Colorado, reacting to the playoff trash-talking of Chicago Blackhawks forward Jeremy Roenick, Roy said through his crooked grin, “I can’t really hear what Jeremy says because I’ve got my two Stanley Cup rings plugging my ears.”

Roy would add another ring that season, and one more in 2001, having won his first with the Canadiens as a 20-year-old rookie in 1986, his second in Montreal in 1993.

The goalie’s No. 33 was retired by the Canadiens to the rafters of Bell Centre during an emotional ceremony on Nov. 22, 2008, a five-minute standing ovation accorded to the man known in Quebec as Saint Patrick. A dozen pint-sized goalies skated onto the ice wearing NHL jerseys bearing the names of Quebec-bred goalies, a tribute to Roy’s influence in developing players in his home province.

Patrick crouch copy

A year later, on Dec. 4, 2009, Roy strapped on the pads once more on Montreal ice, turning back the clock to kick out pucks snapped at him by his vintage teammates in a Bell Centre ceremony before the Canadiens’ centennial game.

To this day, there remain those who say that Roy bailed on his team professionally and personally on Dec. 2, 1995, when he and Tremblay spontaneously combusted.

But on the warm and fuzzy 2008 night of his number retirement, Roy didn’t much care to try to change opinions that he knew were cast in cement. He and the Canadiens had come together to repair a relationship that had been torn apart by pigheaded ego and runaway emotion, and that was all that mattered.

“I think [the ceremony] really turned the page on what happened in the last game (in 1995),” Roy said after having seen his number hoisted aloft. “I’ve been ready to move on for a long time. It was fun at the end to say I’m coming back home. I truly believe that. I was truly happy to wear that (Canadiens) jersey tonight.”

After a March 2014 practice before his first game back in Montreal, coaching the Avalanche against the Canadiens, it was suggested to Roy that the $10,000 fine for his meltdown against Anaheim was better called an investment, his new team learning very early on that he had their backs.

“I don’t remember what happened that game,” he replied with a grin. “I just need to look at my paycheck to see it.”

Montreal defeated Colorado 6-3 that night, but that wasn’t the biggest story. It would be the ear-splitting ovation for the coach behind the visitors’ bench, a man whose emotion and fire and brilliance in goal had gifted Canadiens fans with their two most recent Stanley Cup parades in 1986 and 1993.

If the roof of Bell Centre was raised when he appeared coaching the Avalanche nearly a decade ago, the arena might well be a convertible on Thursday when Patrick Roy, NHL Version 2.0, brings his larger-than-life personality back to town, behind the Islanders bench.

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