By Stu Hackel
Pat Hickey of The Montreal Gazette had this very cogent observation on coaches like the Capitals’ Dale Hunter who make the leap from junior hockey to the NHL. Hickey brought up Hunter as an example to those who are calling for Patrick Roy, who is currently coaching and running the major junior Quebec Remparts, to eventually become the Montreal Canadiens’ head coach.
“If you want a preview of what Roy might be like as a head coach look at Dale Hunter’s early struggles in Washington,” Hickey wrote. “Hunter may turn out to be a great coach, but he’s learning that coaching millionaires isn’t the same as coaching teenagers in junior who are motivated to reach the next level. The parallel is especially important here because Hunter and Roy had similar situations in the junior ranks.
“In addition to being coaches, they were owners and had control over personnel decisions. Much of their success stems from the fact their junior teams are in major markets and have the financial wherewithal to recruit and sign players, divert players headed to U.S. colleges and manipulate the draft.”
Roy is a link to better times, a Habs hero who is considered the favorite among the team’s fans to take the Montreal job during the offseason. He certainly can coach, having won the Memorial Cup but, as busy as he’s been with the Remparts, he’s not familiar with today’s NHL. Fans who hope he’d be able to come right in and immediately straighten out the Canadiens should perhaps look at his old Nordiques rival Hunter and be careful what they wish for.