Roy expects emotional night when Habs retire his No. 33


When Patrick Roy was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame two years ago, one of the questions he was asked was which goal-scorer he feared the most during his 19-year NHL career.


MONTREAL — When Patrick Roy was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame two years ago, one of the questions he was asked was which goal-scorer he feared the most during his 19-year NHL career.

Roy thought for a few seconds and then quietly said: “There’s no one.”

His answer spoke volumes about the level of confidence with which he competed and backstopped him to a record-setting career as the NHL’s all-time leading goaltender in regular-season victories (551), games (1,029), playoff victories (151), playoff games (247) and playoff shutouts (23).

And of course, Stanley Cups. Two each with the Montreal Canadiens (1986, 1993) and Colorado Avalanche (1996, 2001), as well as three Conn Smythe trophies as playoff MVP and as many Vezina trophies as the league’s top goaltender.

Roy, who will have his number 33 retired by the Canadiens in a ceremony before their game against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre on Saturday night, spoke Wednesday about the confidence with which he displayed throughout his career.

“I always thought goaltenders could not show weaknesses,” Roy said during a conference call. “We played against Detroit one year in the playoffs and we lost the first two games in Denver, and then we’re going in Detroit. I felt that I could not show weaknesses by saying: ‘Oh, I’m not sure. It’s going to be tough.’ You always had to show that you were strong and nothing would affect you.

“The position demands that you stand tall say: ‘Hey guys, I’m here,’” Roy said. “You don’t want to have the players thinking ‘Is the goaltender going be OK tonight? Is he going to be shaky?’ You want to make sure the guys go: ‘We’re OK, Patty is in the net. He’s going to have a good game, and all I have to worry about is playing hard.’”

Roy’s 33 — worn by 15 different players – will be the 14th number retired by the Canadiens in the team’s 100-year history — the most of any NHL team.

The Avalanche retired Roy’s same number in October 2003 and while Roy had hopes the Canadiens might one day do the same, it was never a sure thing in his mind. Now that it’s about to occur, the significance of it will be different from what he felt in Colorado.

“You have no control if they will retire my jersey or not, but I surely hoped that it would happen one day,” Roy, 43, said. “I knew (the Canadiens) had a lot of guys to do before me . . . Savard, Robinson, Gainey, Dryden . . . they were a big part of the history of the Canadiens and they deserved that.

“It’s a great honour for me to join them. It means a lot to me,” Roy said. “It’s in Montreal it started. It all happened because of my years in Montreal. They are a big part of my success as a hockey player.”

Roy, a native of Ste. Foy, Que., near Quebec City, was selected 51st by the Canadiens in the 1984 NHL entry draft and spent 11 seasons in Montreal before his tenure with the Habs came to a sudden end on Dec. 5, 1995, when he was dealt to the Avalanche along with forward Mike Keane in exchange for goalie Jocelyn Thibault along with forwards Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko.

Three nights earlier he was in goal against the Detroit Red Wings and allowed nine goals in an 11-1 loss that was the worst home-ice defeat in franchise history. After being pulled from the game in the middle of the second period by head coach Mario Tremblay, whom Roy felt had humiliated him by leaving him in net, he told team president Ronald Corey he had played his last game in Montreal.

“You always have some regrets. I mean, nobody’s perfect,” said Roy when asked if he regretted the way he left the Canadiens. “When you love to compete, and that’s the way I was, there’s a good side of it and bad side of it. I don’t think I would have had the career I had, if I was not that type of person.

“The good thing about what’s going to happen Saturday is that we’re going to talk more about those years like ’86 or ’89 or ’93. We had great runs in Montreal,” he said. “I think we’re finally gonna put away that December 2nd of ‘95.

“It’s funny because they say one game doesn’t make a career in the NHL, but one game made pretty much my career in Montreal,” Roy joked. “I don’t really feel that was the case because I had so many good years. We had so many good teams. I played for great coaches, but I also played with great teammates. Nothing would have happened without the support of them.

“We had players that had that desire to want to win and they were very special teams,” he added.

Roy is co-owner, general manager and head coach of the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, who will face the Montreal Juniors on Friday night. There, he will be also honoured by the Juniors organization.

He said he couldn’t anticipate what emotions will be in view at the Bell Centre on Saturday night.

“A lot of people think I’m going to have some tears,” Roy said. “I’ve never been that type of person, but it will be a good test for my emotion for sure.”

Montreal Gazette


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