Montreal Gazette

ROY'S RETURN TO AN NHL BENCH WAS LONG OVERDUE

Canadiens' goaltendin­g legend finally gets another coaching shot with Islanders

- PAT HICKEY phickey041­2@gmail.com twitter.com/zababes1

It was a great night to be a fan at the Bell Centre.

You had a chance to give Patrick Roy a standing ovation as the giant screen showed highlights of his career in Montreal during the national anthem prior to Thursday's Canadiens-islanders game.

And you had a chance to cheer the Canadiens as Sam Montembeau­lt channelled Roy and made 43 saves as Montreal spoiled Roy's homecoming by holding on for a 4-3 victory.

It was the second straight loss for Roy, who was hired to replace Lane Lambert as head coach of the Islanders last Saturday.

It's no surprise Roy is back in the NHL after walking away from the Colorado Avalanche job in 2016.

It is a surprise that it took so long to find a job and it's a surprise that he wound up with the New York Islanders.

Roy said he was open to NHL offers after he led the Quebec Remparts to the Memorial Cup last spring and announced that he had coached his last junior game.

You would have thought teams would jump at a chance to hire a former NHL coach of the year, but Roy didn't get a sniff for any of the six jobs that changed hands in the off-season.

Three teams went for retreads — Peter Laviolette (Rangers), Andrew Brunette (Nashville) and Mike Babcock (Columbus). Three other teams hired fresh faces — Spencer Carbery (Washington), Ryan Huska (Calgary) and Greg Cronin (Anaheim).

When Babcock was forced out before the season started, Pascal Vincent got his first NHL head coaching job.

Four teams changed head coaches before Christmas and again there was a split between guys with head coaching experience — John Hynes in Minnesota and Jacques Martin in Ottawa — and newbies Drew Bannister (St. Louis) and Kris Knoblauch (Edmonton).

When Roy finally landed on Long Island, he admitted that he made a mistake in his previous stint in Colorado. He left that job because he wanted more control over personnel decisions. This time around, he said he realized that he couldn't be the coach and general manager. That was a smart thing to say because the Islanders GM is veteran Lou Lamoriello, who enjoys being in control.

Lamoriello also enjoys winning and he'll expect Roy to produce a winner — or else. The GM has shown little patience for losers. During Lamoriello's 28 years with the Devils, there were 20 coaching changes. And even winning is no guarantee of longevity. He famously fired Claude Julien in 2007 with three games remaining in the regular season. At the time, the Devils had the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.

Roy, who is the third head coach Lamoriello has hired since he named himself the Islanders' general manager in 2018, is off to a 1-2-0 start, but it's far too early to judge his performanc­e.

There are no guarantees when you fire a coach in mid-season, but it has worked out for three teams this season. The Oilers have a 25-6-0 record under Knoblauch and are currently riding a 15-game win streak. Hynes has a 16-12-1 record in Minnesota and Bannister is 10-6-1 with the Blues.

As for the Senators, they are 7-9-2 under Martin, which is an improvemen­t, but Ottawa will miss the playoffs for a seventh consecutiv­e season.

The reckoning is nigh: The investigat­ion into the alleged sexual assault of a woman by members of the 2018 national junior team is drawing to a close. The Globe and Mail reported that five players have been asked to report to the London, Ont., police.

The NHL and Hockey Canada have no comment on the matter and the London Police Service said it will hold a press conference next month to discuss the case.

When the criminal cases are disposed of, let's hope Hockey Canada goes after any guilty parties to repay the money spent on a settlement with the women involved and the legal costs associated with the scandal.

Quebec snubbed again: In case you missed it, last Saturday was Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada. Or should we call it Hockey Day in the Rest of Canada?

This was the 24th Hockey Day and, for the 24th time in its history, the host province was not Quebec. Every other province and the three territorie­s have hosted the event at least once — Ontario has had the honour six times. This year's host city, Victoria, was the third host from British Columbia. This supposed salute to grassroots hockey has ignored the province where the game was invented and the province that has produced the most Stanley Cup winners.

It's only a matter of time before François Legault tries to throw Scotiabank out of the province and bar Ron Maclean to prevent the spread of witzelsuch­t.

 ?? PIERRE OBENDRAUF ?? Islanders coach Patrick Roy talks to his players during a timeout after the Canadiens took a 3-0 first-period lead during their game Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
PIERRE OBENDRAUF Islanders coach Patrick Roy talks to his players during a timeout after the Canadiens took a 3-0 first-period lead during their game Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
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