Does “Montreal Canadiens head coach Patrick Roy” have a nice ring to it? Roy thinks so.
In a recent interview with La Presse, the former Canadiens goaltender said that he would be ready to listen if he was offered the head coaching position with the franchise that he won two Stanley Cups with and recently sent his jersey to the rafters.
“Since my number was retired I’ve reconnected with the organization and the Canadiens fans,” Roy told the newspaper. “When I see people continuously mentioning my name as candidate to become the next head coach, it’s very flattering.”
Roy, considered by many to be one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, is currently the head coach of the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL and says he prefers coaching to any managerial duties.
“I find it encouraging. It makes me realize that what we’re doing with the Remparts is appreciated,” Roy said. “What I love is to be close to the ice, to have a direct contact with the players. I love to work as a team and be with people. Clearly, being a head coach is more appealing to me than being a general manager.”
Roy said he has not been contacted by the Canadiens organization about the position, but if they did, the public wouldn’t be the first to know about it.
“If one day they call, I wouldn’t go public with it anyways. Will they call? I have no control over that. I’m not the one that will put any pressure on the Canadiens organization.”
The 46-year-old Roy said that right now he is focused on his current coaching role, but when the season is over, he will listen to any offers NHL teams may have for him.
“When the season is over and a team shows interest in me, like Colorado did, of course I like to listen,” Roy said. “I like to see what kind of role an organization has in mind for me. So would I listen to the Canadiens? The answer is yes.”
The Canadiens fired coach Jacques Martin on Saturday and named assistant coach Randy Cunneyworth as the new bench boss. The decision was met with some criticism because Cunneyworth, an Ontario native, does not speak French and the Canadiens franchise is considered one of Quebec’s most sacred institutions.
Former Montreal general manager Serge Savard told La Presse that the Canadiens must eventually find a head coach that speaks French “because the team belongs to the people.
Since 1971, the Canadiens have only had three head coaches born outside of Quebec: Jacques Martin of St. Pascal, Ont., Claude Julien of Blind River, Ont., and Bob Gainey of Peterborough, Ont. Of those coaches, only Gainey — who coached a total of 57 games with the Habs — was not fluent in French, although he eventually learned the language.
Former Canadiens player and head coach Guy Carbonneau argues that although speaking French should not be a prerequisite for the Habs coaching job, it would be difficult to have it any other way.
“I think that you want to have a coach that’s really good and can make the team win, but it’s in Montreal,” Carbonneau told Jeff Blair on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Monday.
“Just turn things around and put a French-only coach in Toronto and see what happens. It would be impossible. I think in Montreal it’s the nature of the beast … There’s too much media, you’re answering too many questions. It would be really, really hard not to have somebody that speaks both languages.”
Geoff Molson, the Canadiens’ president, CEO and team owner, released a statement on Monday in regards to the Habs coaching situation.
“Randy Cunneyworth is a qualified and experienced coach who has earned the respect of the players and everyone within the organization and he was ready to take over the responsibility of head coach,” Molson said.
“As (Canadiens GM) Pierre Gauthier indicated, the head coaching position will be revaluated at the end of the season and, at that time the selection process will be carefully planned.”
Do you think the Montreal Canadiens need to have a French-speaking head coach?