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Roy will coach Avalanche next season

Says he 'never felt in danger,' Sakic adds 'we're in this thing together'

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

DENVER -- Patrick Roy will return as Colorado Avalanche coach next season, general manager Joe Sakic said Saturday.

"Yes, he will," Sakic said before the Avalanche lost their season finale to the Anaheim Ducks at Pepsi Center. "We're in this thing together."

The Avalanche (39-38-4) did not make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second season in a row.

"I've had conversations with Patrick and we know we have to try different things next year, but for me it's not the coaching staff," Sakic said. "I've had enough conversations with different people. We all have to be better. I have to be better, the coaches have to be better, the players have to be better. We all have to look in the mirror and figure out why it happened like this."    

Roy, who has two years left on his contract, became coach prior to the 2013-14 season and the Avalanche went 52-22-8 and won the Central Division. He won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year.

"For some reason I never felt in danger," Roy said after the 5-3 loss to the Ducks. "I have a great relationship with Joe, we always talk, and we're very close. I know that we all have to be better, not just the coaching staff. The players, the core, we all know we have to do things a bit different next year in order to be more successful and make the playoffs. The objective is, we have to make the playoffs, there's no doubt about it. It's clear in our mind, and the coaching staff has been working extremely hard to prepare our team very well."

The Avalanche took a season-worst five-game losing streak into their game Saturday, with seven losses in eight games. The slump kept Colorado from challenging the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card in the Western Conference.

"The last couple weeks it's been hard on all of us for sure," Sakic said. "We were in a two-team race and Minnesota lost four in a row and we couldn't make up any ground. It is frustrating, it's disappointing. But right now we're not going to make any rash decisions. We're all upset and need to take a couple weeks off and then get back to work, make some tough decisions going forward, do what we have to do to try and get better.

"For us, for me, it's very disappointing to see how the team reacted. Many games down the stretch, [we] didn't see the emotion you needed in the playoffs. The entire year, I felt we left a lot of points on the table, just blown third-period games, not managing the game very well. We just didn't manage the games very well."

Captain Gabriel Landeskog, forwards Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, and defenseman Tyson Barrie are 25 or younger. Goalie Semyon Varlamov is 27.

"We have to look at our core right now, the entire team actually, the core is a big part of learning how to win. We have to see, take a couple of weeks off to reflect, discuss and figure out if these guys want to learn what it takes to win and show it on the ice by playing the right way."

Sakic and Roy, each in the Hockey Hall of Fame, were key players when the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001.

"We're all learning," Sakic said. "[Roy's] got the passion, he's a winner and he wants to win. Players know exactly what he wants. It's one of those things, you don't always look at the coach."

Sakic said he hasn't lost confidence in himself or in Roy to take the Avalanche to the next level.

"We have a plan, this isn't a quick fix," Sakic said. "We still have to be patient with some of our younger players, it's still a young club. But we're confident we can turn things around. When you talk about a position of need, we'd like to get some help on the back end to help some of our guys. We're still bringing in some younger players that are going to be key for us in playoff runs down the line.

"For us right now, we know we have to look and see if the players are going to buy into doing what it takes to win. Not just trying to do it the easy way and trying to score five goals a game. If the game has to be 1-0 or if tied in the game in the third period, or up, we have to find a way to get it to the overtime."

The Avalanche were 25-6-2 when taking a lead into the third period and 9-7-1 when tied after two periods. Their four overtime points are the fewest in the NHL.

"Our regulation wins are -- take away the last 10 games -- we were right with everybody else," Sakic said. "To see us blow points in a third period, that's why we're here and out of the playoffs. We had a tough start to the year, guys battled back. Got to the All-Star break, right there in the eighth spot battling with Minnesota. Since then, for whatever reason, it was unacceptable."

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