Patrick Roy isn't promising the Colorado Avalanche will win the Stanley Cup next season when he makes his debut as an NHL coach.
"But one thing I know," Roy said Tuesday, "we're going to have a Stanley Cup attitude. I believe that's going to carry us a long way."
The Avalanche formally introduced Roy, 47, as their sixth head coach during a news conference at Pepsi Center inside the Ridgeline Restaurant, where 10 years ago to the day he announced his retirement following an 18-season NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens and Avalanche that included 551 regular-season wins as a goalie, four Stanley Cup championships, and three Conn Smythe Trophies. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006.
Roy, who spent the past eight seasons as part owner, general manager and coach of the Quebec Remparts in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, spoke from a podium alongside Avalanche president Josh Kroenke and executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic.
"Here I am today, back in Denver, ready to embark on a new challenge," said Roy, who also has been named vice president of hockey operations. "I'm also excited to get involved in player-personnel decisions. It will be our goal to work together to compete for a Stanley Cup. To all Avalanche fans, rest assured I will bring the same passion to my new role with the team as I did when I was a player."
Roy won two Stanley Cups with the Canadiens and he teamed with Sakic and a host of marquee players to win two more with the Avalanche following his Dec. 6, 1995 trade from Montreal. The Avalanche retired his No. 33 sweater on Oct. 28, 2003.
"The Avalanche means a lot to me," said Roy, who was given a four-year contract with an option for a fifth. "If there's an organization I wanted to work with, it's this one. Those eight years in Denver were fantastic ones, our fans are extremely important to me. The people in Denver from the first day I arrived here, they were simply fantastic to me. I felt that being part of that again is something that I expect to enjoy a lot.
"[But] the past is the past; it's over. It's what we're going to do next with our group. I'm extremely proud that Joe and Josh have given me that opportunity to be part of that new era. Joe and I had an opportunity to be part of something really special in the past and I think we're also going to be part of something very special in the future. He's like me -- he wants to see this team win a Stanley Cup."
Roy will have his work cut out for him. He inherits a team that finished last in the Western Conference in 2012-13 with a 16-25-7 record and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third year in a row, after which coach Joe Sacco was fired.
"It's a great challenge for everyone," said Roy, who posted a 348-196-37 record with the Remparts and won the Memorial Cup in 2006. "I haven't followed [the Avalanche] as much these past couple of years. I know there's a lot of talent on this team and I think it'll be fun to work with them. My objective is really to give the team back to our fans. I certainly want to see our players very, very close to our fans and have the fans come to the rink and say, ‘That's my team.' We're going to have a lot of good discussions over the summer (regarding player personnel). We have a lot of talent on this team and I'm looking forward to it.
"I'm not nervous about losing my job. I'm not here for the money. I'm here for the fans, I'm here for this organization, and I'm here to try to prove to myself that I'm capable of doing the same thing that I did at the junior level in the NHL."
The Avalanche do have some good young talent: Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O'Reilly, Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson. They also have the first selection in the June 30 NHL Draft after winning the lottery, but Roy said it's possible they could trade the pick. Portland defenseman Seth Jones and Halifax forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin are expected to be the top three players drafted, not necessarily in that order.
"All are premier players," Roy said. "At the end of the day, it's going to be an organization decision. We have scouts that have been watching game after game and they have their input. Joe and Josh are the final say. Regardless of what we're going to do, we have to make the best decision. Maybe the best is to trade it. Maybe the best is to keep it. At the end, we'll see what's on the table."
Roy said he would meet with Tim Army, an assistant coach under Sacco, to see if they are compatible. He expects to have two assistants along with a goalie coach.
Roy first met with Kroenke and Sakic two weeks ago at his summer home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., where they played golf. Roy came to terms with the Avalanche last Thursday after being assured by his new bosses they were serious about returning the team to an elite level.
"Working with Joe and every day coming to this rink and talking with Joe and being a part of the decisions [with] the direction this team is going to go, I could not ask for anything better," Roy said. "I don't know how long this ride is going to be, but I can tell you my plan is to enjoy every minute. The fans are important to me and I want them to come to the rink and enjoy our team and see players playing with passion and with heart and being devoted to them. We always have to remember that every time we step on the ice."
Kroenke called Roy's hiring "a significant moment in our organization's history."
"We needed one meeting to know that Patrick was the guy," Kroenke said. "Now we need to build this thing back to where it needs to be. Patrick's passion is the one word I keep coming back to. I think with a young team, you have to have the kind of coach that can be disciplined and encouraging at the same time. I think that Patrick fits that bill very well."
Sakic said Roy was always his top candidate.
"There's no one more passionate about this game," Sakic said. "He'll bring a winning attitude to this dressing room and help this young team grow. I know he'll get the best out of each player. He's the perfect guy for this organization."
"Shaking hands with a Hall of Famer, it doesn't happen every day," Landeskog said. "I watched him as a player when I was a little kid. He had a winning record as a coach in the Quebec League and we're excited to have him. He's still just as passionate as he was as a player. He's passionate about this city, the fans and this hockey club. We're excited to have him."
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