It has only been one game but this can be said with the utmost confidence: The Colorado Avalanche made the right coaching hire with Patrick Roy.
Sure, the Avalanche could very well not take any steps forward this season, miss the playoffs again and Roy could turn out to be a subpar coach like just about every other great that tried to transition behind the bench. The opening night returns wouldn't suggest such a result but it's a long season -- the Avs' 6-1 win over Anaheim was just one game out of 82.
But this claim that Roy is the perfect coach in Colorado doesn't even have anything to do with his ability as a coach or the team's play, frankly. It comes down to this simple fact: They needed this in Denver. No, they didn't need a resident crazy guy per se, they just needed this juice, this passion. This excitement.
For too long it has been just drab in Denver around the Avalanche. A once great franchise (not that long ago) had become dormant while almost becoming a doormat. The Avs haven't been a consistent playoff threat and it showed in many ways. Last season they sold tickets to only 85.8 percent capacity, the fourth-lowest mark in the league (according to ESPN.com). The season before that was 86.1 percent, fifth lowest in the league. They hardly appeared on national television. They simply became one of "those" franchises. They existed but not much more.
Not today. The season is two days old and Roy and his Avalanche have become the talking point around the game, quickly (and mercifully) replacing the never-ending fighting discussion. The team looked excellent, No. 1 overall pick Nathan MacKinnon made his debut with two points and the Avs were a couple of seconds away from a shutout, so there would have been people talking about them on Thursday at the old water coolers. But not like this.
They even had more eyeballs watching from home.
Avs-Ducks drew a 2.2 on Altitude last night. The team's average in Denver last season was an 0.85.— Steve Lepore (@stevelepore) October 3, 2013
Yes, there's excitement with opening night and the return of hockey -- hope springs eternal and all that jazz -- but part of that buzz of seeing the new team was seeing Roy again. The ovation when he was announced before the game was as big as any of the players.
Ideally, the Avs would prefer people talk about their play. In due time that could come, especially if they're able to turn in efforts like Wednesday night on a regular basis. Right now, though, it doesn't matter other than this simple fact: People are talking about the Avalanche.
There's a fine line between passionate and crazy. Perhaps Roy overstepped that in his first game. Heaven knows Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau wasn't impressed with Roy going off the handle. The crazy/interesting/unbelievable part? Roy called it "just a normal night." If that's the new normal then this is going to be better than we anticipated.
Everybody had a notion across the USA (and Canada) that we would get something like this from Roy. I don't believe anybody thought it would happen on opening night.
This can't and won't become a regular occurrence. If you're going to tune into the next game to see Roy toss his jacket and throw some fists at Barry Trotz, you'll be disappointed. The league is reportedly going to have a chat with Roy about his behavior.
Understanding that, it does not mean the man won't bring a passionate and fiery approach to the team every single night. That's simply who Roy is. It was a hallmark of his NHL career in addition to his excellent skill in net. It's his identity as a hockey pro. The Avalanche needed that, they needed an identity. They needed his identity.
The Avalanche needed Patrick Roy.