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Gazette Premium Content KLEE: Hold on tight, Roy's return to Avs guarantees hockey fireworks

Staff reports Published: May 28, 2013

DENVER - Consider this the first shot across the bow from Patrick Roy as a head coach in the NHL.

"When a coach is going after my player, am I going to stand up for him?" Roy said Tuesday when he was introduced, again, at Pepsi Center. "Yes, I will."

The Avs are done playing nice.

How do we know?

Their new coach didn't play nice. His players would be risking hockey life and limb by not bringing the same fire to the ice.

To reverse its free fall into hockey irrelevance, Colorado hired as its coach the baddest, cockiest, most fearless, greatest goaltender to wear pads.

This is the same man who winked at opponents after stoning their slap shot. The same guy who brawled with Red Wing goalies Mike Vernon and Chris Osgood on Detroit's home ice.

He is returning to the NHL with a point to prove.

"I'm here to try to prove to myself that I'm capable of doing the same thing I did at the junior level in the NHL," said Roy, whose coaching record in juniors was 348-196.

"I took a nonguaranteed contract (of four years with the Avs). I don't care," he added. "I'm not nervous about losing my job."

Confidence was never an issue for Roy as a player; clearly it won't be as a coach.

You know who should be nervous? The first Avalanche player who slacks off and treats a practice as though his job is safe.

I love this hire for all the reasons I loved watching Roy as a player. You knew Roy and the Avs would bring a professional effort every time you spent money to watch them play.

Credit Josh Kroenke and Sakic for identifying the perfect personality to teach a young team playing hockey is an every-day gig.

"He's got that passion," said Joe Sakic, who teamed with Roy for two Stanley Cups in Colorado and now will team with him in the front office.

That is also the reason I had one doubt - only one - it will work.

In a long season, will the young Avalanche roster buckle under the intensity of a competitor like Roy?

"All that does is make guys accountable every day, in every practice," center Paul Stastny told me.

"A lot of times (last season) we didn't work as hard as we could," goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere added. "We didn't have that winning attitude that Joe (Sakic) expects."

Roy retired on May 28, 2003 - 10 years ago, to the day, he was introduced as the successor to Joe Sacco.

I can confirm the nasty streak that characterized Roy's Hall of Fame playing career did not retire when he did.

When a reporter asked a question not to Roy's liking, the coach said he would prefer if that question were asked in a one-on-one setting.

His steely glare made certain the question wasn't asked a second time.

"What I admired the most about him was ... he could speak up in the papers and back it up the next day," Giguere said. "That's something that's extremely hard to do."

Stastny said his favorite memory of Roy was the goalie's legendary comment to Blackhawks forward Jeremy Roenick: "I can't really hear what Jeremy says, because I've got my two Stanley Cup rings plugging my ears."

The Avs ticket holders who sat through a last-place finish in the Western Conference deserve to see a team with that kind of swagger again.

"I think there's a difference between arrogance and cockiness," Stastny said. "If you can back it up, why not say it?"

I got the impression Roy has heard the rumors his 24/7 intensity might be too much for the hockey players of today. Roy admitted athletes are different than even a decade ago.

"I'm always trying to not make the mistake and not be too tough on them," Roy said. "I'm not trying to compare whoever to me. It's probably the worst mistake you can make."

A kinder, gentler Patrick Roy?

Sorry, not buying it.

"I understand there might be some adjustments to make," he said.

A toned-down Patrick Roy?

"Yes, we are going to have a goalie coach," Roy said.

One thing is certain: With Roy as head coach, the Avs assured themselves of one wild ride. This should get very entertaining, very fast.

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Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

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