Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Anybody who thought Patrick Roy was going to blend into the background as the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche received a wake-up call on Wednesday night.
The end result of the Avalanche's season opener against the Anaheim Ducks was a satisfying 6-1 blowout loss, but the mercurial Roy managed to overshadow his young team's victory with a public display of anger that included giving a pair of hard shoves to the partition separating the two team's benches.
Roy's temper tantrum wasn't pretty, although it seems to have stemmed from a legitimate gripe. The Colorado head coach was irate about a penalty that wasn't called after a knee-on-knee hit by Anaheim's Ben Lovejoy on Avs star prospect Nathan MacKinnon, and things steamrolled from there.
In the closing seconds of Colorado's lopsided win, Roy and Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau shouted words at each other through the glass partition, the one Roy nearly toppled a few seconds later. The heated interaction earned Roy a game misconduct and a fine from the NHL could be in the offing as well.
For his part, Boudreau became upset when he saw Roy shouting at some of his players on the ice and, like Roy, the Anaheim bench boss is not one to mince words.
"A coach has no right to start yapping at players. I told him it's bush league," Boudreau said after the game.
"There was no need for it. They got the game won. Just pull your players off and show a little class. He's going to be in for a long year if he's going to yell at every player and yell at the refs every stoppage in play. It's just not the way the game is played."
If Roy's intention was to ruffle some feathers and announce his presence to the rest of the league and its coaches, then mission accomplished. But, it would be unwise to write Roy's antics off as damaging to his team. In the long run, it's probably not smart for the coach to be setting such an outrageous example for his young team to follow, but the outburst at least let his players know he'll stick up for them when there is cause to do so.
In fact, having such a memorable meltdown in your first game as a head coach makes one wonder if Wednesday's antics weren't a calculated move by Roy. Even in his playing days, including his highly successful eight-season run with the Avalanche, the importance of waging psychological warfare on the opposition was never lost on a proven champion like Roy.
After all, this is the legendary Patrick Roy we are talking about. Not only is he a Hall of Fame goaltender but his four Stanley Cup titles -- two with Montreal and two with the Avs -- make him an expert on what it takes to win.
Roy is leading a Colorado team that is loaded with raw talent and highly- drafted offensively-minded players. Guys like MacKinnon, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. The problem is the club has been criticized for lacking the grittier qualities that can help a young team bridge the gap from potential to excellence. However, Roy should be careful not to take his Reggie Dunlop impersonation too far, or he could turn a promising team into a circus act.
Before restoring Colorado to its previous winning ways, however, the fiery head coach could help generate excitement for a franchise that has been lacking in that department pretty much since Roy announced his retirement after the 2002-03 season.
The Avalanche have made the playoffs four times in the nine seasons since Roy's retirement, but haven't qualified for the postseason tournament since 2009-10 and haven't won a playoff series since 2007-08.
Of course, missing the playoffs year in and year out can't help but have an adverse effect on attendance. So, when you've been in the bottom-10 of NHL attendance for five straight seasons like Colorado has, maybe it's not such a bad thing to have a coach with an oversized personality, even if he makes waves every now and then.
Admittedly, serious problems could arise if Roy acts out the way he did in the opener on a regular basis. As stated previously, this is an inexperienced team searching for its identity and having a coach acting consistently erratic could be detrimental to the team's overall progress.
If it turns out Roy has an undying need for dramatic behavior it could also lead to losing some guys in the locker room. After all, the story following Wednesday's blowout win over a 2013 playoff team and division champion like the Ducks should be about the promise displayed on the ice, not the histrionics of the guy expected to be the adult in the room.
One thing is clear from Roy's history as a player: he will do whatever it takes to win. He may be brash, arrogant and off-putting at times, but teams and opposing head coaches who underestimate his will to win, will most likely wind up regretting it.