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Toronto Maple Leaf .A. Parenteau, left, celebrates with teammate Dion Phaneuf after scoring on the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

His hockey hair is thinning and greying at the temples. His eyes now have bags under the bags under them, the sign of an NHL head coach who has witnessed too many losses and endured too many sleepless nights.

But that was Patrick Roy all right – skating in goalie skates in slow circles at the Air Canada Centre and letting out a sharp whistle every few seconds as the Colorado Avalanche players did drills around him at the morning skate.

His Avs started their year digging a deep hole, losing 10 of their first 14 games, and they managed to crawl out a little with a three-game win streak they brought into Toronto on Tuesday.

After getting thumped 5-1 by the Maple Leafs, however, it's beginning to look as though Roy's pain may be of the season-long variety.

Playing in the toughest division in the NHL, the Avs are on pace for 68 points and a second straight playoff miss.

A large part of that should be on Roy.

There may not be a more puzzling front office in pro sports than Colorado's. Roy is the coach, but he is also vice-president of hockey operations, which gives him an unparalleled ability to micromanage the organization.

After his years as owner/GM/coach in junior hockey with the Quebec Remparts, the joke in NHL circles is that Roy is so involved that he licks all the stamps that go out on the Avalanche's daily mail.

Unlike every other NHL team, free agents contemplating going to Denver have to negotiate with the coach. Joe Sakic is the GM and will take the first call, but the second usually goes to Roy. The arrangement is that of a two-headed monster, with the Hall of Famers and former teammates forced to negotiate everything separately but together.

It's unique. And unique wouldn't be a problem if the results were better. As evidenced again on Tuesday, they're not.

After a dream first season under Roy in 2013-14 – propelled largely by the goaltending from Semyon Varlamov and some significant puck luck – the Avs have faltered. They had only 29 wins in regulation or overtime last season, which was just four better than the Leafs' managed in their disastrous campaign.

One key stat that implicates the coach has been their puck possession. The Avs entered the game against Toronto dead last in the NHL at 45 per cent – and that's after a few recent, decent games. That's no anomaly either, as Colorado has been badly outshot and outchanced to that extent basically from day one under Roy. This from a team with plenty of high-end talent: Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson.

What's troubling is they've been bleeding good players – especially at centre, one of the hardest positions to fill in the league. In 2014, they lost Paul Stastny for nothing to St. Louis, a division rival, in free agency. Last summer it was Ryan O'Reilly going to Buffalo in a trade that brought back only future prospects. O'Reilly has looked like an all-star with the Sabres; Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov have struggled to make much of an impact with the Avs. Now Duchene's name is in trade rumours – which would be another ill-advised move that wouldn't address this team's actual issues.

There have also been useful players who fell out of favour in Colorado, in large part because Roy wasn't a fan. The Leafs have two of them: Matt Hunwick, who has been playing first-pairing minutes much of the season but was banished to the minors by the Avs; and P.A. Parenteau, a frequent healthy scratch under Roy who scored two big goals Tuesday, including the winner.

The Avs have other things working against them. They have a reclusive, absentee, billionaire owner who keeps the hockey team on a budget to the extent they're $7-million (U.S.) under the salary cap and have a scaled-down front-office staff. That leaves what was once one of the most successful franchises in the NHL to be run by two stars from past Stanley Cup teams (1996 and 2001), a formula that has a long history of not working (think Edmonton).

If they keep losing – and every indication is they will, barring a herculean effort from Varlamov when he returns from injury – this will get messy. The typical solution when a team with this much talent is playing this poorly is to axe the coach. But when you've got a legendary star in that role, and he has extensive power beyond the norm, that is not easy.

Roy certainly knew what he was doing when he left the comfy confines of junior, in getting the contract he did.

It remains to be seen if he knows what he is doing now.