Louis Domingue is getting the start against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night — and for the rookie netminder, the coach behind the bench for his opposition is no stranger.
Domingue spent three of his four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playing under head coach Patrick Roy for the Quebec Remparts, to whom he was dealt in the middle of the 2009-2010 season. He and the Remparts advanced deep into the playoffs all three seasons; they finished the regular CHL season first in the Q’s Eastern Division twice and third once while Domingue stood in net. Roy is the only head coach Domingue knew during his time in Quebec.
Although the team was largely successful with Roy behind the bench and Domingue standing in net, though, little love was lost between the coach and his player.
Domingue is a fiery, agile netminder — but although he graduated from the QMJHL a full season before Roy was named head coach of the Colorado Avalanche, the younger goalie certainly didn’t keep quiet when the move was made. He took to Twitter, speaking quite candidly about how he felt playing under Roy after the former Remparts coach blamed a blowout loss to the Halifax Mooseheads (who, at the time, were host to Nathan MacKinnon) on ‘bad goaltending’.
The accusations Domingue made are nothing new for those familiar with Roy’s coaching practices and public persona. He’s often cited pointing fingers first and foremost at his netminders, although his unique strategy of pulling the goalie with good chunks of the game left to play suggests he places plenty of value on a good offense being the key to a successful defense. Roy is something of a mad genius; few question his tactics, although fewer understand them. He’s praised as often as he’s criticized, and his fiery temper have gotten him — and his children, sometimes simultaneously — suspended from stretches of games at a time. He’s able to bring together winning teams, but he’s not always cited as an easy or helpful coach — and Domingue’s accusations seem to be resonating more as the Avalanche flounder just one season after being considered the league’s darlings.
Although the tales spun by the series of tweets Domingue put out could have easily been told by a netminder who never succeeded and walked away from the game with a shattered confidence, though, it appears that Roy’s heavy influence on Domingue’s style have made him stronger.
The two play a strangely similar game. Domingue plays the puck in front of the net more than he does behind it, something that separates him from Arizona Coyotes starter Mike Smith — but his volatile on-ice temper make him a good comparable to the coach he spent three years playing under. He’s racked up his fair share of penalty minutes over the years, including this memorable goalie fight last February:
Funny enough, the initial fight that sparked Domingue’s leaving the crease to come jump into the frey was actually an AHL game brawl between Arizona Coyotes prospect Connor Murphy and Philadelphia Flyers prospect Tye McGinn — who now both skate out for the Coyotes themselves as a part of the big club. That puts three of the biggest culprits on the ice together, and all on the same side — Patrick Roy and his team had best watch out.
Although we can joke that the storyline here is Domingue’s dislike for his former coach, though, it’s clear he learned quite a bit from him.
After spending a season starting in the ECHL for the Gwinnett Gladiators, Domingue was given a chance to slide up the depth chart and taking over some starts for the Portland Pirates (the goalie fight above was actually right at the start of his long-term tenure in Portland, as he wasn’t moved to be a regular there until the second half of the 2013-2014 season). Now, he’s looking to be the top prospect in Arizona’s system — with Mark Visentin missing an entire season for a foot injury, Domingue has shown the mobility and willingness to adapt his game to best fit the players he’s serving behind that very few goaltenders outside of the NHL-caliber class are able to show. He’s one of the most positionally sound young netminders in the league, something he certainly had hammered into him by a coach who’s been named the best goaltender in NHL history — and his willingness to let the game fire him up is certainly a classic Patrick Roy characteristic.
Instead, this game could be a good chance for the younger player to show the man who once criticized him for not wanting it enough — he certainly wants this, and the backup role is his for the taking. If only MacKinnon were on the ice — what a fairy tale game that would be.