While the news of Patrick Roy’s resignation as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche is shocking, it also means there’s more news to come. The Avalanche have about a month until training camp, and will want a new coach in place beforehand. The timing of Roy’s resignation leaves very little time for GM Joe Sakic to do a thorough search. That said, there are a few available candidates that immediately spring to mind.
- Bob Hartley – Hartley coached the Avalanche from 1998 to 2002, winning four division titles, appearing in four Western Conference Finals, and winning the 2001 Stanley Cup. Players on that team included current Avalanche GM Joe Sakic, executive Adam Foote, and assistant coach Nolan Pratt. He also coached new Avalanche forward Joe Colborne during his time in Calgary, and briefly coached Jarome Iginla there as well. There have already been several suggestions from media members that Hartley would or should be a contender for the job.
- Marc Crawford – This is a less likely possibility. Crawford is another former Avalanche coach, winning a Stanley Cup with Joe Sakic in 1996. He’s also very recently employed. This off-season, Crawford returned from a four year stint in Switzerland to work on Guy Boucher’s staff with the Ottawa Senators. Still, if anyone is going to quit a job so soon, it would probably be for a promotion, to work with familiar faces. After resigning from the Avalanche in 1998, Crawford had stints with the Canucks, Kings, and Stars.
- Sheldon Keefe – The Toronto Marlies head coach and former Lightning forward is just 35 years old, but already a popular pick to fill future openings. In his first season in the AHL, Keefe led the Marlies to 54 wins in 76 games, and a trip to the Eastern Conference Final. This after three straight playoff appearances as head coach of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL. He’s very young to coach, but the Avalanche are a young team. What experience he does have is mostly with player development.
- Dallas Eakins – Most of the paragraph on Keefe could have been said of Eakins before he joined the Edmonton Oilers in 2013. Once regarded as a great coaching prospect, Eakins won just 36 of 113 games before the Oilers fired him. He is presently coach of the San Diego Gulls in the AHL, farm team of the Anaheim Ducks. It went poorly in Edmonton, to be sure, but it never got any better after he left. It’s hard to get a second chance in the NHL, but Eakins has done well enough outside of it to be worth another look.
- Ron Wilson – Wilson has worked with players who take advantage of their speed and skill for his entire coaching career, and a young Avalanche team fits that mold. While he’s been criticized for his handling of young players before, he’s also never really had ones this good. He’s prone to hostility towards the media, and is quick to bench a veteran when the player is underachieving, or when Wilson is just mad. Still, it’s hard to write off a guy who’s won over 600 games.