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Patrick Roy's style suits his young Avs

OK, so there was that moment after Game 1 of the regular season last year when Patrick Roy went a little Incredible Hulk on Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, pushing over a cushioned barrier between the two teams' benches pretty much on top of Boudreau’s head.

This after pounding the Ducks 6-1 in Roy’s NHL debut behind the Avs’ bench.

“That was a one-time thing,” Avs general manager and head of hockey operations Joe Sakic, a longtime teammate and friend to Roy, told ESPN.com on the eve of training camp with just the trace of a chuckle.

There was some sniping with St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock, but basically Sakic is right. While the hockey world waited for more Roy histrionics as he made the transition from Hall of Fame goaltending career to junior hockey mogul to NHL coach, all he did was guide his youthful Avs to a surprise spot atop the Central Division for the team’s first division title since 2002-03, which happened to be Roy’s final season in the NHL.

Along the way, Roy managed to add to his trophy shelf with a Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.

We happened to be in Denver prior to the start of the season a year ago, and while the postgame activities were entertaining to say the least, what struck us was Roy's passion and enthusiasm during practices leading up to the season.

“We all know he’s a very emotional guy,” Sakic said.

But Roy never brought any negative emotion to bear on the players, criticizing them in public or belittling them.

“He was just very relaxed, very calm, very sure of himself,” Sakic said.

All of that might have come as something of a surprise to Roy’s players, especially the younger ones, who might have known him only through videos or yellowed newspaper stories (or yellowed Internet stories).

“Yeah, it was different [than expected],” rookie of the year Nathan MacKinnon told ESPN.com.

“I didn’t realize how smart he’d be. I know he was passionate, very competitive, but he understands the game so well. Everything he does, there’s a reason behind it,” MacKinnon added. “He doesn’t just bark at guys. He’s always thinking. It’s only my second season, but I’m sure he’s one of the most progressive coaches in the league."

Young Avs captain Gabe Landeskog said he too wasn’t sure what to expect from the legendary goaltender-turned-coach.

“I think it surprised me. You always get the questions: Is he yelling at you, is he all fired up every game and all this stuff,” Landeskog said. "I think to a lot of people [with the team] he’s surprisingly calm. He’s very smart in the way he interacts with his players. Whether it’s between periods or after games or before games, he’s very calm, and he’s able to look at the big picture. He’s emotional, yes, but he’s smart about it."

Landeskog recalled how Roy would come into the players’ lounge, propping his feet up on the table like one of the guys to chat.

“For him to come down to the level of privacy, it builds a bond between players and coaches that you don’t normally see and it builds a trust that you don’t normally see,” Landeskog said.

As players evolve over time, it’s clear Roy has evolved from when he was coaching in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he also was part-owner of the Quebec Remparts.

“It’s a man’s game [in the NHL], and you have to adapt,” Sakic said.

There is a mutual respect between Roy and his players, the Hall of Fame center said.

Perhaps the best illustration of this mutual respect is seen in how Landeskog credits Roy for helping him grow into his role as team captain, a responsibility he admitted he wasn’t ready for when he was tabbed to be the team’s leader before the start of the 2012-13 season.

“I think when I look back when I was named captain two years ago ... I think I might not have been ready for it. I might have been too young," said Landeskog, who won’t turn 22 until November. "It’s one thing on the ice or in the dressing room, you feel confident in yourself and you know what you’re doing, but when it comes to things off the ice, dealing with situations with players and when things aren’t going well and logistics and handling coaches and all of this, I’m not sure I was ready for this.

“But now I feel like I’ve come into my own, and I’m realizing what are things that you need to put first and focus on and what are things you don’t necessarily have to sweat. And I think for me, once you learn those things -- to be honest Patrick was a huge part of that, just making me feel confident and always having his door open to me if I wanted to chat about anything really.

“I knew from day one it wasn’t going to be easy. I knew from day one I wasn’t going to be the perfect captain. I’ve always been the first one to say that,” Landeskog added. “If you look at a lot of the great captains in the league right now, it comes with experience.”

And if there's one thing Roy brings to the table, it’s experience.