Monday, 28 May 2012

There is no other choice for coach of the Canadiens but Patrick Roy

 I was talking with my friend Mitch on Saturday about Alain Vigneault having his contract extended.  Mitch is a knowledgeable hockey fan, a diehard Canuck and a really good Men's League player (as opposed to our lower level Rec League here in Whistler).  Anyway, he kind of shrugged when we were discussing it, and agreed with me that there aren't that many coaching candidates out there that really get your attention.  In that climate, he's okay with the decision, although he feels that a lot of coaches could have done just as well with that stacked team, and that on some occasions last season Mr. Vigneault was clearly outcoached.

I commiserated with him, and explained that the Canucks probably did the right thing, and if they hadn't we would probably have snapped him up.  As it is, I told him there were real slim pickings out there for our coaching position.

Which brings me to state, again, that especially with the dearth of great coaching candidates, either guys with lots of experience and a winning background, or up-and-coming natural choices like Guy Boucher or Kirk Muller, we should not try to bunt our way on with a safe choice like Bob Hartley or Marc Crawford.  We should swing for the fences and hire Patrick Roy, instead of hiring a more middle-of-the-road candidate and then watch Mr. Roy go to another franchise within a couple of years and make us regret it.  It's kind of like when you're at the bar: you don't sell yourself short and just talk to the plain girls, you suss out the best-looking one and then go for broke, despite the hurdles and that little voice in the back of your mind that's telling you you're wasting your time.

Patrick Roy would bring fire and passion behind the bench, something we've been missing for a few seasons now.  He would bring instant credibility, no one would disrespect the Hall of Famer.  Kids would have stars in their eyes.  Much is made of his volatility, but to hear him speak nowadays you get the sense that he's a grown man, in full command of his team.  He's respectful, humble, frank, insightful.

His inexperience is the stumbling block that many point to, but like I said it's bad judgment to let the best candidate walk away on a technicality and regret it later.  He has a lot of coaching experience now, as well as GM experience in Junior, which would help him understand and participate in some of the personnel decisions.  Finally, we could surround him with experienced Assistant Coaches.  There's a whole slew of people who could help him out and ease his transition to the NHL game: Larry Robinson, Doug Jarvis, Guy Carbonneau, Guy Lapointe, Keith Acton, Gerard Gallant, etc...  I'd be very favourable to having former Canadiens who have played with him and would bring a different dynamic to that position, in that they know Patrick as a person and could call a spade a spade with him, and also call bullspit when needed.  Any fears about his temperament can be allayed this way.

So let's not settle for good enough.  Let's hire the guy who has the stuff, the winning fire, the potential to be the next great Canadiens coach, not just the next in a long line of coaches who last two and a half seasons and then get kicked to the curb.

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