Published: May 30, 2013
Patrick Roy has a strong chance to become the rare superstar who finds success as a coach. That's the view of Air Force hockey coach Frank Serratore.
This week, the Colorado Avalanche placed the future of a teetering franchise into the care of one of NHL history's greatest goaltenders. Roy might be the greatest, period.
Serratore believes Roy could silence all the skeptics. He believes because Roy spent seven seasons coaching the Quebec Remparts in junior hockey.
Roy ranks near the top of the most self-assured athletes I've ever met. (To be nice, let's avoid the word arrogant.) Yet he showed impressive humility and wisdom by waiting until he was prepared for hockey's big show. He declined the Avs' offer in 2009. He knew he wasn't quite ready.
He's ready now. At least long-suffering Avs fans hope he is.
"He's not a goalie anymore," Serratore said. "He's a coach. He went to work, and he honed his trade. He's not some former superstar with a sense of entitlement who thinks he can be something that he's not qualified to be.
"Did his name help him? Well, it certainly didn't hurt him, but the guy has paid his dues. I hope he succeeds."
Serratore did not mention Wayne Gretzky. He didn't really need to mention The Great One, who took the fast, disastrous, track to a head coaching job.
Gretzky is the Michael Jordan of hockey. Or maybe Jordan is the Gretzky of basketball. Gretzky is, and most likely always will be, the most dominating, dazzling athlete ever to put on skates.
And yet he struggled as coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, finishing with only 143 wins in 328 games from 2005-2009. He wasn't ready. He had not paid his dues.
"Some of these superstars, they don't want to go into coaching," Serratore said. "They have a hard time fathoming why the rest of the world is so dumb and why someone can't do things that were so easy for them."
Athletes who struggled usually make superior teachers, Serratore said. Those who struggled realize how viciously unforgiving a sport can be.
Roy has spent years working with young players. He's been forced to learn patience. And he's found success. He led the Remparts to a 307-128-32 record.
This is no surprise. Where Roy travels, victories follow. As a player, he won 551 regular-season NHL games along with 151 wins in the playoffs. He won four Stanley Cup titles, including two with the Avs.
With Roy guarding the net, the Avs always had a chance to rule the NHL. He skated away, with at least one more great season left in him, 10 years ago.
He's not to blame for the Avs' recent seasons of wandering, and there's strong reason to believe one of the game's greats can return victories and packed houses to Pepsi Center.
And yet .
One moment from Roy's introductory press conference should frighten Avs fans.
"When you work hard and put in the time," Roy said, "nothing can go wrong."
For an outlandishly gifted athlete, those words might be close to the truth.
For a coach seeking to revive a fallen franchise, much can, and will, go wrong.