Muller, Roy share ‘no-excuse’ philosophy

10/25/2013 4:43 PM

10/25/2013 4:44 PM

DENVER -- The irony was so apparent Canes coach Kirk Muller had to laugh.

The discussion Friday was about Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy and how the two were teammates when the Montreal Canadiens won the 1993 Stanley Cup.

"I played with some really good hockey players but the players like Patrick stand out because of just his passion to play," Muller said. "He was a really good goalie but he hated to lose.

"It's so ironic that we're coming in to play a game like this because we're saying we don't want any excuses tonight. That was always the makeup of that (Montreal) group. We won a Cup together with not the best team. We had adversity and all kinds of stuff. But it was always, 'No one feels sorry for us, no one cares, it's all about wins and losses.' He's right up that alley."

Adversity for the Canes means losing their top two goalies -- Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin -- to injury. Justin Peters will be in net Friday night against the Avs, off to an 8-1-0 start -- the best in franchise history -- in the first season under Roy, the Hall of Famer.

The Canes also will play without Jeff Skinner, the team's leading scorer with nine points. He's out with an upper-body injury.

Roy said he expected the Canes to play much as Muller once did, and was in a reflective mood Friday after the Avs morning skate at the Pepsi Center.

"The one thing I know about Kirk Muller is there was never a question is he going to show (up) to play," Roy said. "He was there every night and he came to play. He was intense. He loved to talk in the dressing room and he brought great leadership to our team.

"That year, the '93 Stanley Cup, he played a big role in it and he scored big goals. He also played a big role in our dressing room as well, great leadership."

The Avs players, in talking about Roy, were much like Muller and quick to mention his passion. In his first game behind the bench, against Anaheim, Roy got into a heated exchange with Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau and all but tore down the glass between the benches after the game.

"I guess I just let my emotion go, to be honest," Roy said. "I just try to be who I am. Since the start, I always talk to them about partnership. I'm a partner with our players. I'm not trying to be their coach. I want them to feel I'm equal to them and feel they can count on me, that they can come in our office and talk to the coaches.

"We want them to also bring their ideas of how they feel the game could be played and what we could do against some teams and the adjustment we could make. It's a good mix and I think so far it has worked well for us."

Roy was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006. When he retired, he had four Stanley Cup rings, was the only player in NHL history to win three Conn Smythe trophies and held NHL records for regular-season wins (551) and playoff wins (151).

Why coach? "It's the closest you can be to being a player," Roy said.

Roy spent eight seasons with the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL), winning a Memorial Cup in 2006. Now he's back in the NHL.

"You have to believe in yourself and I believe our guys believe in themselves right now," Roy said. "They're a confident group and they play hard every night. This is, I guess, how you become a winner."

Canes beat writer Chip Alexander

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