Avalanche of Change, Part I: Who Should Coach, Replacing Joel Quenneville?
Aside from being an enforcer, being a head coach has the NHL's least amount of job security. The Avalanche corrected an error that should not have been made in July of 2004, when they parted ways with Joel Quenneville.
After the dreadful loss of epic proportions by the Western Conference Champion Red Wings, I decided to write about the changes the Avs need to make in the offseason.
By the title you can see this is the coach's segment.
Quenneville was good in St. Louis, bench-bossing the Blues to the President’s Trophy in 2000, which led to a bow out to the Sharks in a seven-game first-round series.
And the next year the Blues were, for all purposes, blown out by the eventual Stanley Cup champ Colorado Avalanche.
The postseason has not ever been kind to Quenneville. Nor has the second round been kind to the Avalanche since the 2004 playoffs.
Quenneville is a good coach, but his inability to stick with lines and the same goaltender hurts his team.
The Avs had lost over 300 man games this season, and Quenneville's hot potato-ness with the lines hurt the Avs' chances of developing team chemistry. And this (aside from no power play quarterback) KILLED the Avs' PP, in my eyes.
Who to replace Quenneville? Patrick Roy? Pat Burns? Barry Melrose?
I say the Avs should reach out to the Tampa Bay Lighting.
The Lighting will soon be under new ownership, and they appear to be willing to let John Tortorella walk. Avalanche GM Francois Giguere made it public he would love for his team to have a wide open, skating team on the ice next season. Tortorella seems to fit that bill the best.
Obviously, John Tortorella has postseason success, having coached the Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup. Though many will point out Tortorella's recent failures with the Lightning, I blame POOR management for the Bolts' downfall. You can’t put ALL your eggs in three baskets (Brad Richards, St. Louis, and Lecavalier).
And the Bolts have had horrible goaltending since they lost Khabibulin to the ‘Hawks.
By the way, Barry Melrose will NOT coach in the NHL any time soon. That’s from a rumor a few weeks back that the Lighting would interview Melrose and his mullet to be the next Tampa Bay bench boss.
The Avs have won two Cups with coaches that had no prior NHL coaching on their resumes, Marc Crawford and Bob Hartley. Both coaches were not shy with their sailor mouths, tearing into players if they sneezed at the wrong time.
This is a reason why I don’t like Patrick Roy as a coach. Roy has A LOT of passion and he will not be shy when it comes to verbal butt-kickings on both his players and the refs.
Heck, I’m sure Roy would jump the boards to get in a fight, as was proved with his son a few months back in the brawl that got both Roy and his son suspended.
Hartley was a decent coach, but his chewing-out of players, more so young players, hurts the team. The proof is in young players such as Alex Tanguay, Vaclav Nedorost, and Radim Vrbata who all seemed to have their confidence crushed by Bobby Hartless.
Keep in mind that Nedorost is a HUGE stiff and was a BEYOND overrated prospect (thanks to a Denver magazine putting Nedorost on the cover).
Roy will also be good at drawing fans out to Chopper Circle and putting people in the seats at Pepsi Center. Not. The “blast from the past” didn’t work with Forsberg and to a lesser extent Adam Foote. WHY would it work with St. Patrick?
Another name is Pat Burns. Burns is a good coach, but he plays a defensive trap and I doubt that’s the type of team that the Avs will want to be.
Nor will the trap help the Avs contend with the Red Wings. I feel you need speed and an open style of play to even contend with the Wings. (It was a Pat Burns-coached Devils team that beat Mike Babcock’s Mighty Ducks in the 2003 Stanley Cup finals.)
And again, the power play has been horrible since Rob Blake went back to the Kings. This is another issue that the Avs NEED to deal with during free agency, and I don’t think Burns will help.
Another prospect should be Ron Wilson, just-fired from the Sharks. Wilson is in the same boat as Quenneville—a good coach but unproven in the postseason.
A long-shot possibility is having Tony Granato return as head coach. Granato does have the highest winning percentage among the four Avalanche bench bosses. But, in my mind, he seems to be more a buddy to the players than a coach.
Plus he was schooled in the 2003 playoffs by Wild coach Jacques Lemaire. Granato will be a head coach again in the NHL, but I doubt it will be for the Avalanche. That said, I would be shocked if he's not an assistant next year.
Even though Tortorella is still the Lightning's property, and ALSO rips into his players (such as Crawford, Hartley), I feel he should be the next coach of the Colorado Avalanche.
He has, to me, the best tools to “restore” the Avalanche as a threat in the NHL.
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