11:08 p.m. FINAL ENTRY
The night is over, for me at least, and what a whirlwind it has been. My day started when I woke up in my own bed in Mahwah, NJ at 7:30 this morning. It hasn't stopped.
From my condo to Laguardia to the plane to the air to Montreal to the Courtyard Marriott to Schwartz's to Le Pistol and eventually the Bell Centre, I've been on the go all day long. And, I wouldn't trade it in for any other job in the world.
It's been a fun ride and I hope you enjoyed it, too.
Now, though, all the stories change. The ceremony is over, Patrick Roy is officially back in the family and the banner bearing his number is hanging over the home goal right next to Bob Gainey's and right over Carey Price on most nights.
Now that it is, it's back to business for the Habs and unfortunately they are returning with concerned looks on their faces. With Boston's 3-2 shootout win tonight, the Bruins now lead the Northeast Division by seven points with three more wins than the Habs albeit with two games in hand. The Bruins also lead the season series 2-0-1.
The team's don't play again until Jan. 13 in Boston. The Bruins haven't lost in regulation since Oct. 30. They haven't lost in Boston since Oct. 23. They are scary good right now and the Habs have to find a way to beat them.
So, that's the story now. Roy is back and the Habs need to start winning. Amazing how the news cycle operates, huh? One moment we're celebrating a historic night and the next we're talking about a deflating loss, one Montreal just didn't want on Patrick Roy's night or need when it comes to the standings.
We, though, will not forget about the history we saw tonight. Coming tomorrow will be more stories from me detailing the night and the celebration you all witnessed with me on this live blog.
I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you. I'm heading home tomorrow. Keep reading and enjoy.
Patrick Roy sat at the podium in the press conference room still wearing his bleu, blanc et rouge jersey. He wasn't speechless and he wasn't crying, but he was emotional and he wasn't holding back.
Roy thoroughly enjoyed tonight. He was humbled by both the honor and the reaction he received from the fans. He loved every minute of it, from the moment he walked into the Bell Centre with cameras following his every move as he walked through the concourse and down the steps toward the ice. He felt those nervous tingles we all feel at great moments of our lives.
Make no mistake, tonight marks one of the greatest moments of Patrick Roy's life.
"You're never sure what kind of welcome you're going to get, but I was confident to have a nice one," Roy said. "It was over than what I expected. It was nice when Mr. Garneau was talking and they were cheering even louder. It always touches you that kind of reaction. I don't know if I can express myself well enough in English, but you are always touched by the fans and a welcome like that."
From my perspective, it was wonderful to see. I grew up in New Jersey marveling at Patrick Roy and his incredible feats. I remember watching the 1993 Stanley Cup Final and thinking could this guy stop Gretzky from bringing the Cup to L.A.? Could he stop the Great One?
Yes, because he was a great one in his own right.
The Montreal Canadiens honored him as such tonight. Finally.
Not surprisingly, Roy said tonight's events put an end to the perceived rift between him and the Habs. The most important thing, though, was he finally got a chance to say good bye to the fans, to say thank you to the fans.
Roy never had a chance to do that. He abruptly left this town embarrassed by his last game in bleu, blanc et rouge. He's not embarrassed anymore. He's proud, very proud, and supremely thankful.
"I consider myself very lucky to have a night like this," Roy said. "I don't think there is a better way to talk to them (the fans). The meaning of tonight made it even more special because having that speech and talking to them, at least they know I didn't want to leave that way. At least they know that I feel it should have been a lot different than it was then. Now they know that I wanted to come back and I would have loved to play my entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. There is no doubt."
Can't argue with the man, not when he speaks from the heart like that.
The first period is over and the score remains 0-0. I thought it was great when Georges Laraque was baiting Milan Lucic early in the period and the Bruins big forward would not buy into Laraque's taunts for a fight.
Anyway, back to the reason for this live blog...
I have some quotes for you and while the ones from Patrick Roy are phenomenal, I think the most telling ones come from Jonathan Roy, his oldest son, and Pierre Lacroix.
I asked Jonathan if he thinks his dad can finally move on now that he knows he is back with the Canadiens family and the fans cherish him?
"It closes his career and close this chapter in his life," Jonathan said. "His career is totally complete with this night."
Pierre Lacroix was asked if he expected the kind of warm reaction Roy got tonight?
"Hockey fans in Quebec, this is the confirmation that they love winners and this guy has been a winner his whole life," the Colorado Avalanche President said. "He got up everyday enjoying life and acting like it was his last day on the planet. That's what peope recognize. That's the confirmation we got tonight. I can assure you that, personally, I never had a doubt that tonight would happen differently."
I asked Jonathan if he could sense his father getting overly emotional at any point during the ceremony.
"I think he was very emotional, but my father is one that keeps it all inside and that's what he did, he kept it inside," the younger Roy said. "I know what he's living right now is something he's never lived before and I think he's very proud of himself."
I'm back from the interviews and the anthems are going on as I type. It's the bi-lingual version of O Canada and the entire crowd is singing along.
Awesome crowd here in Montreal, but I suspect this is just normal. Well, maybe not normal. After all, one of their conquering heroes is back and he's now comfortably up in his suite ready to watch the game between the Habs and Bs.
During his press conference, Roy expressed his appreciation for the wonderful welcome he got from the fans. He said he never had a chance to properly say thank you to them, so the opportunity to do that tonight made it extra special.
He also said that during his walk through the concourse and down the steps to the ice he was emotional, but couldn't stop thinking/worrying about his speech. In regards to coming home, Roy was ultra sincere. He stressed that he truly means it when he says that he's come home now. Colorado was nice. He won two Cups there and has his jersey retired in the Pepsi Center, but Montreal was and always will be Roy's home.
He's back now.
I'll have some of the quotes up on the blog shortly. I have to go through them first.
The game is on.
I'm heading down now for some interviews with Lacroix and Roy.
Be back shortly.
In a nice touch, the Canadiens welcomed a group of young goalies onto the ice all wearing different NHL uniforms. I saw the Habs, Devils, Canucks, Ducks, Oilers, Caps, Blue Jackets, Penguins, Flyers, Sabres and Leafs. Patrick went down the row and shook all their hands.
Meanwhile, the crowd went into its "Patrick, Patrick, Patrick" chant. They've been doing that a lot tonight.
Roy then walked down a red carpet toward the goal where Koivu, Price and Halak were standing holding the strings that will help raise his jersey to the rafters.
By the way, and I just noticed this, all the Canadiens players were wearing Roy No. 33 jerseys. Another nice touch.
The number is going up now. The crowd is chanting, "Ole, ole, ole." The current Canadiens are now standing at the far blue line watching with the rest of us as the jersey goes up to the rafters, joining the likes of Beliveau, Plante, Savard, Robinson, Cournoyer, Gainey, etc.
Roy, watching with his family, didn't blink or move his head. He watched his number go from the top of the goal all the way up to its resting place in the rafters, directly over the home goal. He was definitely holding back some tears.
I think he could have let it out. If you're not going to now, when are you going to?
And, with his family leading the way, Patrick Roy left the ice...oh wait, he stopped to let the coaches and broadcasters go before him. He then gave a wave, blew a kiss and walked out, stopping along the way to hug the trainers.
The team followed him. Roy led the Canadiens off the ice one final time.
Patrick tried to get a word in about 30 seconds into the standing ovation. He couldn't. Nice try, but sorry Patrick.
He finally did get a word in and it was in French. I hope he turns to English soon. I am certain he will.
The crowd is listening intently.
"Still a teenager I was entering the NHL through the doors of a most prestigious shrine. I can still recal the pictures on the wall, those of Richard, Beliveau, Lafleur, who long before me had you cheering with excitement," Roy said in English.
He's older and his face has filled out a bit, but I bet he can still shut the B's out tonight.
"Tonight I would love to express my gratitude to everyone who has contributed to the success of my career but there are just too many of you to mention individually," he said in English.
He went on, in French, to thank, among others, Lacroix, Perron, Serge Savard and Francois Allaire.
"My coaches for teaching me perseverece and resilience and making the most of my will to win. My teammates for their confidence, support and friendship. My opponents for pushing me beyond my limits," he said in English, thanking large groups.
"The privilege and honor to defend our colors night after night," he said.
He said merci a bunch of times. French, after all, is Patrick Roy's first language. Can't blame him for speaking it in Quebec. I'm the outsider here.
"Bleu, blanc, rouge," Roy said and the crowd went ballistic.
These fans are gripping to his every word. And, just so you know, the house is packed now. That was quick.
He said goodbye by thanking the fans in French. They all stood in unison again and roared for No. 33. Patrick Roy spoke for a little over eight minutes and I counted three loud ovations and two standing ovations.
Once finished, he stood at the podium, right on top of the center ice faceoff dot, and waved to the crowd. He didn't appear to lose it at any moment, but you could tell he felt the collective hug from the city of Montreal.
The jersey is going up soon.
Lacroix spoke mostly in French. What he said I'm not 100 percent certain of. Then he turned to English.
LaCroix switched to English and said, "I watched him grow. I worked with him when he was a young guy. I now salute the man and the mentor he became for all young hockey players wanting to succeed."
Roy sat stoically, listening to his great friend. When Lacroix was done, Roy got up again and hugged Lacroix.
Right then, Dick Irvin said, "Patrick, your turn."
Here comes Patrick Roy to the podium. Everyone is standing and cheering again.
Jean Perron, Pat Burns and Jacques Demers all were introduced. They all spoke to the crowd.
"I know one thing," Burns said, "he made my coaching record a little bit better when I was here with him in Montreal."
Perron thanked Roy for the parade down St. Catherines Street and for his Stanley Cup ring.
Demers got a huge ovation, the biggest of the three. When he brought up the fact that the Habs won 10 OT games during the 1993 playoffs the place went nuts. When he mentioned Guy Carbonneau, the place cheered even louder. When Demers wished current captain Saku Koivu to hoist the Cup, the fans blew the roof off this place.
Pierre Lacroix just stepped to the podium. He's going to introduce the guest of honor.
The standing ovation is still going on. Patrick has gotten up and down from his seat three times already. I think if Dick Irvin wasn't here it would go on all night long. And, deservedly so. Patrick Roy brought these fans so much joy for nine unbelievable years and he is being welcomed back as a hero.
He's up again. Fourth time now. Arms raised. These fans aren't going to let him sit. They aren't going to let him forget how much they love him.
Forget about Dec. 2, 1995. That's in the past.
Forget about me thinking anybody would boo. I was dead wrong.
They love him. They simply love this guy.
You can tell by the look on his face that he's humbled by this as well.
Patrick Roy, shown on the video board, is entering the arena. He is walking through fans and he's wearing his Habs jersey, No. 33 on his back. He's coming down the concourse, through the fans. They are shaking his hands, parting the ways so to speak. Where will he appear....
I still don't know, but this crowd is on its feet, buzzing. He's getting handshakes and hellos from the lucky fans who get to watch him walk through the concourse.
Folks, this is just cool. This is awesome. This is the way it ought to be done. Regular fans get to shake this legend's hands as he walks through the crowd. It's like a big welcome back to their conquering hero.
And, out of a section right below me there is Patrick Roy.
The current team is on the ice, standing on their bench. The place is full now. Roy is making his way down the steps to the Habs bench.
Have I mentioned how cool this is? Seriously, if other teams are watching, this is how you honor a legend, this is how you bring him home. You let him mingle with the fans. You let him be one of them. You let him walk among them. You let him feel their love.
This building is wraping its collective arms around their hometown hero.
The noise is pulsating and there isn't a butt in a seat, not even in the press box.
The video continued for a while and then Carey Price was shown talking about Roy being his role model. The first big roar went up from the Bell Centre crowd. You can just tell this town has a love affair with their new goalie. They think he's going to be the next one to bring them the Cup.
Jaroslav Halak was next and he got a cheer too. It wasn't as loud or as long as Price's, but he got one nonetheless.
Price and Roy will forever be linked, but Price won't ever get out of Roy's shadow until he wins a Cup of his own. Right or wrong, that's just the facts.
They are introducing Roy's family now. Jonathan, who is the Remparts goalie, got a nice hand, but I heard a few boos.
Irvin introduced another video detailing "No. 33s illustrious career." Pictures going way back to his days as a toddler are being shown. The building is quiet. The fans are eating this stuff up. I am too. I mean, seriously, they have Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know" playing along with the video.
Joe Sakic, who both won Cups with Roy in Colorado and was beaten in the first round of the 1993 Stanley Cup Playoffs by him when he was with the Quebec Nordiques, was shown talking about how great No. 33 was.
Ray Bourque, who won the Cup with Roy in Colorado in 2001, was shown talking in French. As you already know, I'm not going to attempt to translate. Butcher job.
Luc Robitaille, who was with the Kings when Roy and the Habs beat them in 93, was the next in line toasting Roy on the video. Robitaille was marveling at Roy's ability to come across to stone a 2-on-1 breakaway with his butterfly.
Irvin and Garneau, in English and French, respectively, are giving quick bios of Roy. The lights are out here in the building and the spotlights are shining on the two broadcasters.
Meanwhile, off to the side a spotlight show of exactly what is being shown on the big hi-def screen is being relayed down to the ice.
They are now showing a video of Roy, detailing the highlights of his career and all the records he currently owns, and the crowd is buzzing. Already more fans are in their seats.
The lights are out and the music (Coldplay) is playing. I have RDS on in front of me and they just showed Roy. One of the biggest nights in the Habs Centennial Season is about to begin.
All the previous retired numbers are being spotlighted down onto the ice. I love technology.
Spotlights are flashing everywhere. A spotlight of Roy's jersey is now covering the ice.
Legendary broadcaster Dick Irvin, looking pristine in a tux, was just announced to one of the podiums. Richard Garneau, former play by play guy for the Habs, is now talking in French at the other podium.
I think they are going to do the English and French thing so everyone understands.
The building is about half full and fans are still filing in. I'm wondering if people even knew it started at 6. The message was out there, on NHL.com numerous times, but I bet this place is full soon enough.
TV broadcasts just went live and the ceremony is going to start momentarily.
Gary Bettman is on the video now, presenting the Conn Smythe to Roy and the Cup to Guy Carbonneau. The fans inside the Bell Centre are cheering.
Now just imagine if Carey Price and Saku Koivu are being handed trophies by Bettman come June. Crazy!
Kirk Muller just scored. Canadiens lead 2-1.
Oh, sorry, that was 15 years ago. Still, it was a Cup-clinching goal.
When it went in (and remember, I'm talking about the highlights of Game 5 of the 1993 Cup Final being shown on the video scoreboard), the crowd inside the Bell Centre cheered.
A group of fans sitting in section 110, about 20 rows up, have draped a giant flag depicting Roy's No. 33 jersey in front of them. It covers four seats wide and is about four rows long.
Where does one buy something like that?
Here we go.
As an introduction to tonight's ceremony they are featuring a video of Game 5 of the 1993 Stanley Cup Final. It's playing right now. Habs. vs. Kings. Roy vs. Gretzky.
Can you guess the outcome?
Uh, oh yeah. Habs 4, Kings 1. Habs win the Cup. Roy awarded his second Conn Smythe Trophy. No Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since.
Quick update. Nothing new to report really. The crowd is filing in. We're suppoedly 20 minutes away from the drop of the ceremony. I've seen plenty of No. 33 jerseys milling around. I even saw one guy in a B's jersey. I think he won't have too much company tonight.
Just reading some clips to pass the time and I came across a story in the Montreal Gazette that said the Montreal Juniors held a brief ceremony honoring Roy prior to last night's game against Roy's Quebec Remparts. The standing ovation lasted several minutes, the newspaper reported.
Pretty cool stuff.
The doors to the Bell Centre are open and the fans are filing in. Part of the neutral zone area on the ice is covered by red carpets and on them are glass podiums, flowers, and chairs. Patrick Roy's image along with his signature adorns the giant scoreboard.
Do you think the Canadiens will let me borrow that scoreboard for the Super Bowl? I'll return it, I promise.
The press box is filling up as well. The excitement in this place is building. We're less than an hour away from the ceremony, from the rift between the Habs and Roy finally and officially being lifted.
I'm curious if anybody in the building tonight will boo Roy. I am thinking there is still that legion of Habs fans who believe he quit on the team and they still hold a grudge. So, yes, I think there will be a smattering of boos, but those will be quickly drowned out by the roaring cheers of the hometown hero returning to be honored in the city where his legacy was born.
How about a few details before we really get revved up here:
* The Bell Centre press box rocks. It wraps around the entire arena and is actually inset over the stands. If I look behind me, I can see seats and the Habs Ring of Honor. Very cool set up here.
* The scoreboard in this arena is first class. It is a giant hi-def scoreboard and Dave Stubbs from the Montreal Gazette told me that fans won't even watch the game on the ice anymore. They will look up at the scoreboard because the picture quality is even better. You say that can't be done? Well, come on down to the Bell Centre and see this scoreboard for yourself.
* Very interesting fact about Roy: Last night he was coaching his team, the Quebec Remparts, in a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game and he pulled his own son, Jonathan, the goalie, after he gave up 5 goals on 26 shots. The Remparts lost, 8-2, to the Montreal Juniors. Now, you all know that on Dec. 2, 1995 Roy played his final game with the Habs thanks in large part because coach Mario Tremblay did not pull him from the game until Detroit scored 9 goals against him by the midway point of the second period. Roy, embarassed, stopped to tell then team president Ronald Corey that he would never play for the team again before leaving the ice. He didn't and the rift between Roy and the club has lasted until tonight, when it finally comes to an end. Guess how many shots Roy faced that night against Detroit? How does 26 sound? Same as Jonathan last night before his dad yanked him. Amazing how things come full circle.
* Joseph Kaiser, who will sing the anthems tonight, was just practicing - LOUDLY. He'll probably have to raise the volume of his voice to get it over the noise the sellout crowd will make tonight.
* Pierre Lacroix, who is now the president of the Colorado Avalanche and formerly was Roy's agent, will introduce No. 33 tonight. Lacroix will also have a media availability at 7 outside the Habs' locker room. I'm not sure if I'll make it down in time for that. I may be finishing up a blog.
* Roy will talk to the attending media - and there are plenty of us - at 7:15 in the press conference room. I will be there for that.
*Did you know it's very possible that Roy could have wound up with the Winnipeg Jets. OK, probably not, but on Nov. 4, 1983 Winnipeg traded its third round pick in the 1984 Entry Draft to Montreal in exchange for Robert Picard. Montreal used that third-round pick to select Roy.
* Here's another great nugget: When Roy got to the Canadiens he was handed a jersey with the No. 32 on it. Roy didn't like the number, so he traded it in for 33. No one will ever wear it again in Montreal Canadiens history.
Hello all. I'm at the Bell Centre now, sitting up in the press box looking down at the ice that is getting cleaned right now. You are all reading Dan Rosen's Live Blog from Montreal, or as I like to call it, D.R.L.B.F.M.
If Hockey Night in Canada can be known by its acronym, H.N.I.C., why can't Dan Rosen's Live Blog from Montreal be called D.R.L.B.F.M.?
Doesn't that have a great ring to it?
I'm going to try to market it anyway. I've got about five hours to make it famous.
Anyway, enough schtick.
I got here just in time to see the crew working on the boards, putting up the Roy and 33 decals in each corner. There is also a 33 sticker at the halfboards on each side of the red line and one at each end board. The number 33, which is the reason we're all here tonight, is also painted on the ice in the trapezoid area behind the goal.
Even though there is nobody here right now, I still sense a significant buzz. A gaggle of cheering, screaming Habs fans have already gathered outside the media/security entrance on St-Antoine. The players' parking lot is right there and no doubt these fans are hoping to catch a glimpse of somebody, anybody.
After blogging to you last, I left the hotel in a cab bound for downtown. My goal was to go to Schwartz's, a hebrew deli and one of the most famous spots here in Montreal. It was recommended to me by a friend of mine who lives up here, Simon Drouin.
My cab ride was well worth the fare. The driver, who was from Algeria, gave me a mini tour of the city as we pulled into downtown and road Rue St-Laurent up to Schwartz's. He first asked me if I was here for the Grey Cup, which is being played at Olympic Stadium tomorrow. I told him that I wasn't, but instead was here for the Canadiens game tonight honoring Patrick Roy.
Right then, he turns to me - mind you, he's driving on a highway now and I'm a little freaked - and says, "You like Patrick Roy? The best."
I nodded my head and said, "If not the best, definitely one of." Hey, folks, I work for the NHL so I can't play favorites.....cough, cough Brodeur. Huh? Who said that?
No, no, just joking. Tonight is Roy's night. Marty will get his soon enough.
Anyway, we wound up at Schwartz's and the line was just ridiculous. It reminded me of what it's like outside the Carnegie Deli on 7th Avenue in Manhattan. The Carnegie is one of my favorite spots - nothing like their hot pastrami - but I'm not going to wait outside in the freezing cold (20 degrees Fahrenheit today) for a sandwich. Sorry, just not going to do it.
So, I ventured down the street and found a nice little bar and had a fantastic sandwich. It was called Le Pistol and my steak sandwich was simply spectacular.
Now that I'm full and settled in the Bell Centre, I'm ready for a riveting night.
You know, we talk a lot about the ceremony that is to come and for good reason - I wouldn't be here without it - but once the number is up in the rafters and the ceremony is finished we have quite a matchup on tap.
Boston vs. Montreal. The first-place Bruins vs. the second-place Habs. How ruthless is the booing going to be for Milan Lucic? The Bruins power forward - and I stress, POWER - knocked Habs' defenseman Mike Komisarek out the last time these two teams played and now Montreal's shot-blocking specialist is out for at least a month and maybe more.
As Montreal Gazette blogger Mike Boone just told me, if the Habs try to take runs at Lucic, "that could end badly." I agree. Lucic is an animal.
Long way to go before that. The blog is live and I'm ready. The ceremony kicks off at 6. I'll be back on way before that so keep hitting refresh. You never know what I'm going to come up with next, or where I'm going to find my next sandwich.
Bienvenue a Montreal! Je suis au Courtyard Marriott par l'aeroport. Je vais a l'arene bientot.
And that's about as far as I'm going with that. Two years of French classes in high school and four semesters in college and I'm not even 100 percent what I just wrote is accurate. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee it's not.
Nevertheless, you get the drift.
In English now: Welcome to Montreal. I am at the Courtyard Marriott by the airport. I am going to the arena soon.
The live blog of Patrick Roy's jersey retirement night is off and running. It's nearing 2 o'clock here in Montreal and I'm going to leave the hotel momentarily to head downtown, where I'll grab some lunch and find myself inside the Bell Centre by 4 o'clock.
How big is this night?
Well, the customs agent, upon listening to me tell him why I'm in Montreal on business as he looked over my passport, said to me in broken English, "Tickets are really hard to come by for tonight. Tickets are really expensive."
The customs agent is into it and he wants to go. Unfortunately, he'll have to hurry up and buy a ticket for roughly $856 US to get into the arena tonight. That's what I just saw them going for on one online ticketing site. Yikes!
I can guarantee there won't be a spare seat in the Bell Centre, especially in the press box.
I just got off the phone with Canadiens PR rep Dominick Saillant, who was staring at the most loaded press box seating chart he's ever seen. Dominick told me more than 200 passes are going to be honored tonight and that includes all the broadcast folks. He said, "It's the busiest night of the year."
I believe him. This is a big deal up here. In a matter of hours the Montreal Canadiens will officially welcome home one of their own. Patrick Roy got away in December of 1995, leaving with a look of disgust and embarrassment on his face. He went on to win two more Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche, who have since retired his number.
However, this is his home. It always has been and it always will be. Patrick Roy is synonomous with the Montreal Canadiens. In this city 22 years ago he broke ground for goalies. His butterfly style sparked a generation of goalies going down to their knees to stop the puck. He is a big reason why today we have Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, Henrik Lundqvist et. al.
He'll receive a hero's welcome tonight and deservedly so.
So, jump on the ride with me. I'll be live blogging the entire evening and I promise, it'll all be in English. I've already butchered the beautiful French language enough.