I happened to be in Denver in the fall of 2013 for part of Patrick Roy's first training camp as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche, and there was a palpable excitement around the once-great, now-moribund franchise.
"Buzz" is an easy throwaway term, but it's an apt description for what was happening in Denver.
I was also on hand for Roy's first game as an NHL head coach, when his Avs thumped Bruce Boudreau's Anaheim Ducks 6-1 and Roy completed the night by shoving over a barrier between the two benches in an angry postgame altercation with Boudreau and Ducks player Corey Perry. Glorious. The same Roy who smashed a television set in former coach Bob Hartley's office after being lifted in a game was back with a vengeance behind the bench.
And it seemed to work, didn't it?
The Avs, shockingly, won the Central Division in Roy's rookie coaching year, sending him on his way to a landslide win in the Jack Adams Award voting as coach of the year.
Under the guidance of the Hall of Fame goalie, the Avs went from being one of the worst teams in the NHL to having the third-best record. The hockey world, it appeared, was once again Roy's oyster.
But the Avs were bounced in the first round of the 2014 playoffs and then promptly sunk out of sight the next two seasons, finishing last in the Central in 2015 and sixth this past season, missing the playoffs both times, a team seemingly without a clue -- at least defensively -- for much of the time.
Still, in spite of the setbacks, few could have seen Roy's abrupt departure on Thursday from his twin roles as head coach and vice president of hockey operations, a bombshell announcement made by Roy himself, apart from the team.
Clearly the move took the Avs by surprise, though according to what Roy told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun, the coach informed GM Joe Sakic earlier in the day of his decision.
Long after social media was agog at Roy walking away from the team, the Avalanche website still listed him in his positions and there was no reference to his having resigned.
The Denver Post reported that longtime Roy teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Sakic was on vacation. Eventually, a team release confirmed Roy's departure with the obligatory thanks-for-coming-out line from Sakic, but it seemed the front office was shell-shocked.
I recall a conversation with veteran defenseman Erik Johnson after the Avs were beaten by the Detroit Red Wings in the Stadium Series outdoor game at Coors Field in February. The Avs were very much in the playoff hunt then, and Johnson suggested that with a management/coaching team that included Hall of Famers Roy and Sakic in the organization, the price for failure would be paid by the players in the room.
And it seemed a valid point: Sakic and Roy have resumes that would seem to make them impervious to organizational shakeups, and the players should be held accountable for their failures.
The Avs have made minor lineup moves this summer, and as it turns out the catalyst for the biggest move came from within.
Roy also told LeBrun on Thursday not to read too much into the departure, but it's difficult not to when Roy himself said that it's important for the vice president of hockey operations to "have a say in the decisions that impact the team's performance."
"These conditions are not currently met," Roy added in his statement, which was released independently of the organization and presumably without the organization's knowledge. The Avs did not comment.
Whether he was being frozen out purposefully by Sakic and the rest of the management/scouting staff or whether Roy simply felt time had run its course, it's that clear Roy sensed a change in atmosphere in Denver, and in typical Roy fashion, he audibled.
As it turned out, the play he called was a down-and-out-and-keep-going.
But for how long?
Roy, 50, still has an enormous presence in the game of hockey. A few potential next destinations immediately come to mind.
If Quebec City is really ever going to get back in the NHL, Roy would certainly be a natural fit, the hometown hero bringing the NHL back home. The storylines don't get much better than that if you're a fan of hockey in Quebec City.
Or what about the new team in Las Vegas? That team could use a coach with experience and a big profile. Roy's profile might be more valuable than his coaching acumen, but his potential presence with an expansion franchise can't be ignored, at least if only for discussion purposes, by new Vegas GM George McPhee.
And of course there's Montreal, where Roy has been a folk hero since leading the Canadiens to championships in 1986 and 1993. Already folks on social media are suggesting Roy's departure from Colorado turns up the heat on current Habs coach Michel Therrien. As if it's not hot enough already after the Habs collapsed and missed the playoffs last season thanks in large part to goalie Carey Price's ongoing injury issues.
But the only thing that is certain after Thursday is that the Avs are under the gun now.
Clearly, Roy felt snubbed and now the pressure falls squarely on the shoulders of Sakic, the Hall of Fame center, to find not just a replacement for Roy but one who can restore the team's luster.
The Central Division is a bear and the Avs are a big blueberry bush.
Sakic must find a coach who can help plug some of the many defensive holes in the Avs' lineup. The search is made more difficult by the fact that Roy waited until into the second week of August to pull the chute on the Avs.
Many have already pointed to Bob Hartley, under whom Sakic (and Roy) won a Stanley Cup in 2001 with the Avalanche.
Hartley did wonders with a foundering Calgary Flames team two seasons ago, guiding them to the second round of the playoffs before they took a step back last season; he was fired and ultimately replaced by Glen Gulutzan.
The one thing I know about the Avalanche is that the past is never far behind when it comes to trying to revive the team's fortunes, even if a big part of that past abruptly walked out the door Thursday afternoon.