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Monday, March 26, 2012

Panesar and Moustakas: Would Patrick Roy Be a Good Coach for the Habs?

Patrick Roy dirige les Remparts depuis cinq ans... (Photothèque Le Soleil, Steve Deschênes) 
Greetings puck addicts!

We have a new treat for you this morning. In the spirit of great debates between such names as Burnside and LeBrun, Marek and Wyshinski, we at HabsAddict.com bring you Panesar and Moustakas.

No, this isn't an Indian/Greek fusion recipe column.

Rather, its two guys who know pretty much the same about hockey as the aforementioned names, but who are not even remotely as well connected or well known!

But fret not, because we have our share of opinion and disagree often enough that we hope this will become another enjoyable part of your regular reading. We will mostly be talking Habs but, with so much going on in the league, will often be tackling other NHL and hockey related issues.

So, without further ado, here’s our first piece in which we take a look at the rumours of Patrick Roy coaching the Montreal Canadiens.

Moustakas: Rumours of Patrick Roy becoming the next head coach of the Montreal Canadiens are nothing new. However, in recent days, the speculation seems to have hit a fevered pitch, especially thanks to a piece in The Globe and Mail.

The veracity of these many reports has been challenged, but as the old saying goes, where there is smoke, there is fire.

Regardless, one question merits to be asked: Is Patrick Roy the right fit to coach the Canadiens?

From this corner, I would say no. While his prestigious reputation and fiery temper may be an effective combination on impressionable teenagers, I somehow doubt that richly paid professionals would be so easily moved.

Further to that, as a coach, Patrick Roy has become known for his antics almost more so than his on-ice success. He has been fined four times in the last 12 months by the QMJHL. And, of course, there is also that infamous goaltender fight involving his son.

All in all, not sure any of that would fly in the big leagues.

Panesar: The Globe and Mail article aside, I think the talk of Patrick Roy joining the Habs, in some capacity, really started when the Habs retired his jersey a few years back.

At the time, it was felt that the now famous rift between Roy and the Habs had been healed. Moreover, the feeling in many circles was that the kissing and making up, as it were, would pave the way for Roy to one day return to the Canadiens in some coaching or managerial capacity.

Fast forward to this season and, with the Canadiens stumbling and bumbling on and off the ice, rumours have been rampant all season about possible replacements for GM Pierre Gauthier and co. And now, with this Globe article, among other reports in La Presse and Radio-Canada, it seems that Roy has already been hired, in secret, to take over as head coach of the team next season.

While I think having the fiery Roy as head coach of the Habs would present it challenges and, as you point out Louis, his schtick many not translate well from Junior to the pros, to me I think this whole situation brings up another important point.

If this story ends up being true and Roy has been hired, does that mean the new general manager is already in place too?

It would be beyond foolish for owner Geoff Molson to arbitrarily hire a head coach without having a GM involved in the decision. So, to me, this means that either Pierre Gauthier will continue to be the man next season—a prospect that I find highly unlikely—or Molson has already hired a general manager.

Perhaps that GM is already working with the team in some other capacity.

Can you say Larry Carriere?

Moustakas: A General Manager would have to be in place if this—or any other—hire were to be made. It is simply unfathomable for Molson to impose such a decision. Imagine a new GM having to deal with an emotional, controlling individual like Roy without having even picked him. Awkward. 

What's that other old expression? A team is successful when the owner owns, the manager manages and the coach coaches.

As for Larry Carriere being the new GM, not sure how well that would play out in the eyes of fans. People are clamoring for significant change and making another internal hire may not quell those desires.

Larry Carriere could prove to be a fine choice, but, ultimately, real change can only happen if a more significant cleanup is made in the front office. The organization is rife with people who have been around for far too long and have links to previous eras of insuccess.

But, back to our initial topic, do you think Roy would be a fit behind the Habs' bench?

Panesar: The potential GM conundrum aside, if we focus just on Roy, I like the guy.

I like that he is a winner and has won at every level he has played or coached at. I like that he is bilingual and will ease and appease those who were crying foul when Randy Cunneyworth, a unilingual Anglophone, was appointed as head coach. I like that Roy has a history with the Canadiens organization. I like that he brings instant respect and credibility to the table, and I actually like that he is a fiery person who isn’t afraid to speak his mind.

He’s surely the type of coach who wouldn’t hesitate to bench a Scott Gomez or Andrei Kostitsyn. With Roy, it’s my way or the highway.

The thing I dislike the most about him potentially taking over the coaching reigns, is that it would once again be a situation where the Canadiens are appointing a rookie head coach. Aside from Jacques Martin, the Habs have spent close to 15 years letting rookie NHL coaches cut their teeth in Montreal, ultimately crashing and burning, before moving on to success elsewhere.

Names like Alain Vigneault, Claude Julien, Michel Therrien, and others, come to mind.

While my heart tells me Roy would proudly take on the role, while doing everything in his power to win, my head tells me that I wish he had NHL experience before coming to Montreal. It’s the same situation with Guy Boucher. Everyone was crying over his departure to Tampa, but not me. I recognized that he was a talented coach, but didn’t want to see another rookie running the bench. Let him go get experience in Tampa before coming to Montreal.

For me, the same holds true of Roy.

Moustakas: You make some good points about Roy. He strikes me as the intransigent type, which could certianly be a benefit on a squad that has had far too many passengers this season. 
  
And, given his darling status with the Montreal media and ability to act as a lightning-rod for controversy, perhaps he would even help deflect some of the attention away from the players, who must be rather overwhelmed by the Montreal spotlight at times.

Having said that, I still believe his methods would not necessarly sit well with a bunch of richly paid professional athletes.

As for your feelings on Guy Boucher, I echo your sentiment there. I was more than happy to watch him leave.

Coaches get fired on a seemingly daily basis in pro sports. Montreal will get another chance to hire Guy Boucher down the road. 

In the meantime, I too am sick and tired of watching rookie coaches take their first steps in La Metropole only to go on to greater success elsewhere. Let someone else do the rookie development for a while.

Panesar: One last point on Roy, or any coach, is that to a certain degree they are only as good as the personnel they have available to them.

While the Habs have some nice pieces in place, they have some work to do before becoming a contender.

I'm not sure that Roy's fiery, competitive nature is what's needed to bring an average team to the promised land.

Will he have the patience to see it through, or become frustrated by the lack of horses to get the job done.

I'm leaning towards the latter, but I've been wrong before!

---
Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com, Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com and featured columnist on PowerScoutHockey.com. Kamal is also a regular contributor to the Sunday Shinny segment of The Franchise weekend morning show, on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at http://www.tsn.ca/montreal/

Follow Kamal on Facebook and Twitter

---
Louis is an Associate Editor at HabsAddict.com. Born in Chicago, Louis grew up in Quebec City where he earned Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Université Laval.

His writing has also appeared on HabsWorld.net. He currently resides in Ottawa and works for the Coaching Association of Canada. Find him on twitter @LouisMoustakas


(Photo by Le Soleil/Steve Deschênes) 

9 comments:

Nice new segment guys, a very interesting read.

I am on the fence with Roy, some days I like the idea some days it terrifies me.

The new breed of NHL player does not seem to tolerate hot headed coaches like the older generation.
Torts has had success but he was out of a job for a while which tells you something.
I prefer the style of a Dan Bylsma, I think he will have a much longer shelf life and the players really want to win for him.
Not sure who is out there that is bilingual and fits the mold.
Roy may be the guy and I will hope that he does well but I am not convinced he is the best solution.
Maybe a fiery GM would be more fun.....and could do less damage to the on ice product?

@Hockeyhype

Thanks for reading and the kind words.

I am with you on this. Not sure Roy's act would fly in today's NHL.

Your idea of a fiery GM is interesting. Certainly, a big personailty could deflect some of the media attention and pressure away from the players / coaches. In a market like MTL, that could be a benefit.

@Hockeyhype: Thanks for the feedback! Glad you like the new piece!

Your idea about a fiery GM is not a bad idea. And, to a certain degree, I think that Roy bringing that BEHIND the bench would achieve the same thing.

He would be very good at deflecting the attention away from his players during the tough times. That might even be something he would do purposefully.

But the bottom line is that many players like being the ones in the spotlight. Roy's love for the spotlight himself, might end up being at odds with his players.

Either way, I would just prefer someone with NHL experience.

What's wrong with a Marc Crawford?

I may be getting ahead of myself but I have a feeling Vancouver is going to get eliminated early this season.
If that happens, do you think Alain Vigneault becomes available?
He would fit the bill of solid NHL experience and bilingual. I think I would prefer him over Crawford.
Although I have nothing against Crawford and I would be happy if he was hired as well.
Just not sure he is bilingual enough for certain parts of the market.

Hey guys, nice debate.

Thing is with Roy, while you're saying his 'fiery' personality might not mesh in todays NHL with the highly paid players, he's not alone there. There are a bunch of coaches with in your face personalities that are successful. The only thing about them is they wear out their welcome and have a shelf life of no more than 5 seasons. But thats a long time in sports nowadays.

If anyone watched the 24/7 last couple of years, Bruce Boudreau last year and John Tortorella know how to yell and curse and bluntly tell their players whats what. And they win. Torts has his Rangers in fine position to do something. If Roy can go to bat for them in the press, which I'm sure press in Montreal cringe at the idea of dealing with him, he'll have his players play hard for him.

Mike Keenan built teams more so than friendships. But again, guys like that flame out after their message gets stale. Roy might be great for 3-5 years, but then its time to move on. Most coaches don't even get that long. Especially in Montreal.

I say give him a shot.

@Nick

Thanks for reading and the kind words.

I certainly understand your point re: ill tempered coaches. But Roy's issue run a bit deeper than that. He lacks any pro (AHL or NHL) coaching experience and his temper has led him to trouble many times. As I mention above, he has been fined four times in the last 12 months by the QMJHL.

We talk about bringing class and dignity back to the Canadiens. We are displeased with how Goats handled Martin, Cunney and Cammalleri. How a person like Roy, given his record, move the organization forward in that department then?

I personally do not buy the whole "we need an experienced coach" thing because all great coaches need to catch a break to start their careers in the NHL.

I thought process is that if you are a good coach then you are a good coach no matter what league and experience.

The thing with Roy is that in Quebec he is the coach of one of the richest teams. A team that gave a salary to Radulov and now Grigorenko to attract some of the best talent to the team. This gave him a competitive advantage over other Q league teams so we truly do not know whether he is a good coach or simply a man coaching a team that can outbid for players.

What I do like about Roy however is the fact that he is fiery and competitive. This would translate into a horrible GM but as a coach you would think that players would feed off it and give it their all.

I want a coach who plays an aggressive fiery system. A coach who preaches toughness and stick-togetherness. Roy actually fits that bill.

@Bryan

You are a good coach no matter what, but you are undoubtedly a better one thanks to experience.

Julien, Vigneault and Therrien all made mistakes in Montreal and learned from them. They then took that learning with them and became very successful.

Heck, even Ken Hitchcock admits to having adapted his style a little bit this year.

Experience always counts.

@Bryan: I don't think the next coach MUST be experienced, but my preference is that they are.

And I disagree...yes, if you're a good coach you know how to coach, but there is a big difference between coaching in Junior and the NHL.

As such, there is also a learning curve. I think that is absolutely a factor as we have seen with past rookie hires.

@Nick M: You hit the nail right now the head. Hot-headed coaches tend to have short shelf lives behind the bench.

And that, to me, is another potential pitfall with Roy. For a team who hasn't had a coach from more than three seasons in a row for the last 15 years, maybe choosing someone who could quickly wear out his welcome, is not the best idea.

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