NHL Mid-August 2016 Musings
As a goaltender, Patrick Roy was among the best in NHL history. He backstopped two teams (Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche) to four Stanley Cups, winning three Vezina Trophies as top goalie and becoming the only player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP three times.
As coach, general manager and owner of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts, he guided that club to the 2006 Memorial Cup championship. They also topped the Eastern Division in three straight seasons from 2009 to 2011.
In Roy’s first season (2013-14) as an NHL coach, he guided the Avalanche to their first playoff appearance since 2010. As a result, he won the Jack Adams Award in 2014 as the league’s coach of the year.
For all those accomplishments, however, Roy probably did himself no favors by abruptly resigning last week as the Avs bench boss and VP of hockey operations.
Roy is renowned for his driven, temperamental nature. While it served him well as an NHL star and in running the Remparts, it couldn’t overcome the fact the Avalanche regressed over the last two seasons. Reports suggest Roy wanted the Avs to make some big moves this year via trades and free agency to bolster their lineup. Instead, they re-signed youngsters Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie to lucrative new contracts.
It appears a difference of opinion in the direction of the Avs lead to his departure. Some observers, however, suggest this move proves Roy isn’t a team player, preferring to have total control over player personnel decisions.
The NHL probably hasn’t seen the last of Patrick Roy. Perhaps he will attempt a return to the NHL in a general manager’s role. That could be best suited to his domineering personality. However, his demanding ways could make life very uncomfortable for any coach under his employ.
Nearly six weeks after being traded from the Nashville Predators to the Canadiens for P.K. Subban, defenseman Shea Weber traveled to Montreal and met with reporters for the first time.
If you’re wondering why such a big deal is being made over this, Weber probably asked himself the same question.
Weber is no rube. He knows he’s going from a market in Nashville where he didn’t face all-encompassing media coverage to a fishbowl existence in hockey-mad Montreal. He handled his first meeting with the press – along with the inevitable comparison questions about Subban – rather well.
But that was just a small taste of what Weber can expect in his first season with the Canadiens. Unlike the happy-go-lucky, media-savvy Subban, Weber isn’t exactly a ready-made quote machine. He could find that fishbowl existence rather annoying after a while, especially if the Habs fail to notably improve in 2016-17.
Unrestricted free agent defenseman James Wisniewski last week signed a professional tryout offer with the Tampa Bay Lightning. It leaves one wondering how many of this summer’s remaining UFAs might follow his lead?
NHL training camps will open in less than a month. However, notabe UFAs such as winger Jiri Hudler, defenseman Kris Russell, right wing Radim Vrbata, forward Brandon Pirri and blueliner Kyle Quincey have yet to land new contracts.
Some of them could ink deals with new teams in the coming weeks, albeit much shorter contracts for far less than they envisioned when the UFA market opened on July 1.
Others, however, could find themselves accepting training camp tryout offers in hopes of continuing their NHL careers.
The members of Team USA’s 1996 World Cup of Hockey roster will be inducted this fall into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
It’s a notable honor for that roster, which includes Hockey Hall of Famers Brett Hull, Chris Chelios, Brian Leetch and Mike Modano. They upset heavily-favored Canada to win that tournament, marking the first time in international tournaments involving NHL players than the United States bested their northern rivals.
That victory was also instrumental in the United States’ emergence from Canada’s shadow on the international hockey stage. Its influence upon American youth hockey cannot be understated. Today’s American-born NHL stars, such as Patrick Kane, Zach Parise, Jonathan Quick and Phil Kessel, can trace their big-league careers back to the inspiration of the ’96 Team USA squad.