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Roy latest Hall member to seek coaching success

by John Kreiser

Patrick Roy was a Hall of Fame goaltender who won the Stanley Cup twice with the Montreal Canadiens and twice with the Colorado Avalanche. He retired with the most regular-season wins in NHL history and holds the mark for most playoff victories.

But Roy may have taken on the biggest challenge of his career Thursday when he agreed in principle to become coach and vice president of hockey operations for the Avalanche, a franchise that has missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the past three seasons and four of the past five since it last won a series in 2008.

Roy, who coached the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the past eight seasons, will try to become one of the few Hall of Fame players to equal his prowess on the ice with success behind the bench. Only a handful of hockey's elite have become a coach at the NHL level, and only a couple of those have succeeded.

Here's a look at some of Hockey Hall of Fame members who've behind the bench in the past two decades and how they've fared, leading off with the best known:

Wayne Gretzky

Team: Phoenix Coyotes (2005-09)

Previous coaching experience: None

The Great One hung up his skates in 1999 and one year later became a part-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, a team that had not won a playoff series since relocating from Winnipeg in 1996. Gretzky became a managing partner and director of hockey operations. In August 2005, he agreed to go behind the bench.

The Coyotes finished last in the Pacific Division in 2005-06, and were last again the following season. They improved to fourth in 2007-08 and stayed there in 2008-09. The Coyotes went 143-161-24 in Gretzky's four seasons as coach.

Gretzky left the Coyotes in September 2009 after the NHL bought the franchise after a bankruptcy hearing. He has not coached since.

Jacques Lemaire

Teams: Montreal Canadiens (1983-85), New Jersey Devils (1993-98, 2009-11), Minnesota Wild (2000-09)

Previous experience: Player-coach with HC Sierre (1979-81), assistant at SUNY Plattsburgh (1981-82)

Lemaire is perhaps the only Hall of Fame player whose coaching achievements rival his success on the ice. He had 366 goals and 835 points in 12 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens and was a member of eight Stanley Cup championship teams. He is one of six players to score two Cup-winning goals -- the second came in 1979, in his final NHL game.

After a stint as a player-coach in Switzerland and as an assistant at SUNY Plattsburgh, an NCAA Division III school, Lemaire took over as coach of the Canadiens in the 1983-84 season and led them to the conference championship. He coached Montreal to first place in the Adams Division the following season, but after the team went out in the second round, he gave up the coaching job and was moved to the position of assistant to the managing director. He stayed for seven seasons and was part of Montreal's last two championship teams, in 1986 and 1993.

Lemaire then stunned the hockey world by returning to coach the New Jersey Devils. He led them to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1994 and to their first Stanley Cup the following spring. He left the Devils in 1998, spent two season in Montreal's front office, but returned to the bench in 2000 as the first coach of the expansion Minnesota Wild, a job he held until 2009. He went back to New Jersey and led the Devils to a division title in 2009-10, announced his retirement, but returned before Christmas when the team fell apart under John MacLean. He retired again in 2011 with a career coaching mark of 617-458-124-63.

Larry Robinson

Teams: Los Angeles Kings (1995-99), New Jersey Devils (1999-2002; 2005-06)

Previous experience: Assistant with Devils (1993-95)

Larry Robinson's career is intertwined with that of Lemaire -- the two were teammates on five Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Montreal Canadiens, and Lemaire gave Robinson his first coaching job when he hired him as an assistant in New Jersey for the 1992-93 season.

Robinson coached the defense as the Devils became one of the NHL's elite teams, winning their first Stanley Cup in 1995. The Los Angeles Kings, with whom he played in his last three seasons before retiring in 1992, then made him their coach. L.A. made the playoffs once in four seasons before Robinson was let go in 1999.

He returned to New Jersey as an assistant, but was given the top job late in the 1999-2000 season when Robbie Ftorek was fired; Robinson led the Devils to their second Stanley Cup. He got New Jersey back to the Final in 2001, only to lose to Colorado, and was fired midway through the 2001-02 season. But he returned to the Devils as an assistant the following season under Pat Burns and the Devils won a third Cup.

Robinson again stepped into the top job in 2005 when Burns' cancer returned, but resigned after 32 games, citing stress and health problems. He stayed with the Devils organization until the summer of 2012, when he joined the San Jose Sharks as an associate coach.

Bill Barber

Teams: Philadelphia Flyers (2000-02)

Previous experience: Coach of AHL Hershey Bears (1985) and Philadelphia Phantoms (1997-2000), assistant with Flyers (1985-88)

Barber played his way into the Hall of Fame with the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1970s and early 1980s, scoring 420 goals and 883 points in 903 games. He was a member of Philadelphia's Cup-winners in 1974 and '75, and was a team leader until a knee injury forced him to retire in 1985.

The Flyers quickly made him an assistant coach, and he was the first coach of the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League. Barber led the Phantoms to three first-place finishes and the 1998 Calder Cup. That earned him a chance to run the Flyers, who gave him the top job when they fired Craig Ramsay in December 2000.

Philadelphia went 31-13-7 under Barber but lost in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, then won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 2000-01 by leading the Flyers to the Atlantic Division title. He was heavily criticized after the Flyers were upset by the Ottawa Senators in the opening round of the playoffs and was fired during the offseason.

Barber hasn't coached since, giving him a career record of 73-40-17-6. He spent six seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning as director of player personnel before returning to the Flyers as a scouting consultant.

Bryan Trottier

Teams: New York Rangers (2002-03)

Previous experience: Assistant with Pittsburgh Penguins (1995-97) and Colorado Avalanche (1997-2002)

Trottier's Hall of Fame resume includes winning the Stanley Cup four times with the New York Islanders in the early 1980s and with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and '92. He retired in 1994 and served as an assistant with the Penguins and Colorado Avalanche; he was an assistant on Colorado's 2001 Stanley Cup championship team.

Much to the scorn and amazement of Islanders fans, Trottier applied for and was hired as coach of the archrival New York Rangers. His stint behind the Rangers bench lasted 54 games; he was fired after the team went 21-26-6-1, although two of the wins (and none of the losses) were against the Islanders.

He returned to the Islanders as executive director of player development from 2006-10.

Denis Savard

Team: Chicago Blackhawks (2006-09)

Previous coaching experience: Assistant with Blackhawks, 1996-2006

Savard was one of the great scorers in the history of the Chicago Blackhawks, piling up 377 goals and 1,096 points -- he trails only Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita on the franchise's all-time scoring list. In Savard's first 10 seasons with the Blackhawks after they selected him with the third pick in the 1980 NHL Draft, he reached 100 points five times and had seven consecutive 30-goal seasons. He also made the "Savardian Spin-o-rama" part of the NHL lexicon.

Savard retired as a player in 1997 and soon became an assistant coach, a role he held until being named interim coach on Nov. 27, 2006, after Trent Yawney was fired. The Blackhawks went 24-30-7 during the remainder of that season, but Savard drew kudos in 2007-08 for leading a young team to a 40-34-8 record and within three points of a playoff berth.

That improvement raised expectations, and when the Blackhawks went 1-2-1 to start the 2008-09 season, Savard was replaced by Joel Quenneville. Savard, whose career record is 65-66-16, was quickly named as one of the team's ambassadors, a position he holds along with fellow Hall of Fame members Hull, Mikita and Tony Esposito.

Adam Oates

Teams: Washington Capitals (2012-current)

Previous experience: Assistant with the Tampa Bay Lightning (2009-10) and New Jersey Devils (2010-12)

Few men in hockey history will have a day better than the one Oates had June 26, 2012. On the same day he was named coach of the Washington Capitals, he was selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame after a career in which he established himself as one of the great passers in NHL history.

Oates retired as a player after the 2003-04 season with 1,079 assists and 1,420 points in 1,337 regular-season games. He returned to the NHL as an assistant with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009 and moved on to the New Jersey Devils a year later. Oates was an assistant last spring when the Devils made a surprising run to the Stanley Cup Final, and the Capitals hired him to replace Dale Hunter not long after the playoffs ended.

Though the Capitals got off to a slow start, Oates helped get the team turned around. A late-season run enabled Washington to finish first in the Southeast Division with a 27-18-3 record, though the Capitals were beaten in seven games by the New York Rangers in the opening round of the playoffs.

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