Roy's mind-boggling numbers as a goaltender literally jump off the pages of the
NHL record book. But those impressive numbers are a mere part of the goalie's
Roy, the unquestioned star of the 2006
Hockey Hall of Fame Induction class, is the only goalie to appear in more than
1,000 games and the only one to win more than 200 games for two different
franchises. He has 551 career wins to top that category and surpassed the
30-win plateau on 13 different occasions during a 19-year career with Montreal and Colorado.
Roy won three Vezina Trophies as the
League's best goalie and was named to the NHL's First All-Star Team four times.
He was selected to 11 NHL All-Star Games. Most importantly, he won four Stanley
Cups, being named playoff MVP three times.
An eye-popping resume, for sure. One
worthy of the first-ballot Hall of Fame induction status he was afforded this
summer, as well as his position, in the eyes of many, as the best goalie to
ever strap on leg pads.
Pierre Lacroix, the GM in Colorado who traded for Roy at the apex of the goalie's career,
called Roy a "true legend of the game" who redefined the art of
"He was a great leader and
ambassador of the game whose passion and determination was second to
none," Lacroix says.
But, in the end, Roy's accomplishments go well beyond the
The man behind those inanimate
numbers is a far more complex and complete story, one that shows Roy's vibrancy, pride,
complexity, combativeness in all its glory.
From the beginning, Roy was a larger-than-life figure.
Early on, he took on the NHL
establishment, refusing to bow to the long-held notions about goaltending that
permeated throughout the NHL. Roy,
from the beginning, was a butterfly goalie. His style -- dropping to the knees
and blocking as much of the net as possible while relying on superior reflexes
-- was the antithesis of the stand-up style that had ruled the crease for as
long as hockey had been played.
Few knew what to make out of Roy's unorthodox style, especially Canadiens coach Jacques
Lemaire, a Hall of Fame forward on the Montreal
"My first year there, I started
practicing and I was going butterfly and diving for every puck," Roy said. "Lemaire
told me I needed a mattress and a pillow. But I was a believer in the
butterfly. The most space you cover is when you are on your knees, and most of
the goals scored in the NHL were shots low to the ice."
There is no arguing with the results
In his rookie season, 1985-86, he
usurped the No. 1 goalie position by the time the playoffs rolled around and
played in all 20 playoff games, winning 15 starts and the Conn Smythe Trophy as
the Canadiens won their 23rd Stanley Cup, the first in seven years for the
The brash, young goalie was hailed
throughout the province
of Quebec, and much of
the hockey world, as a hero -- "Saint Patrick," the patron saint of
the Montreal Canadiens. Not too shabby an introduction to the NHL for a
20-year-old who was a mere two years removed from junior hockey.
From there, Roy just built upon his legacy for the better
part of 20 years.
It took seven more years for Roy to claim another Cup,
but he did it in style.
In fact, Roy
won 10-straight overtime games that postseason as the Candiens dispatched Quebec, Buffalo,
the New York Islanders and the Los Angeles Kings to
win the franchise's most recent title.
Jacques Demers, now a studio analyst
with RDS television, was Roy's
coach that magical season. Even now -- more than a decade removed from that
seminal event -- Demers still raves about Roy, who the coach believes was the
clear difference that postseason.
"He made me a very good
coach," Demers said. "I'm honest and I tell the truth. The truth is I
would not have a Stanley Cup ring if not for Patrick Roy.
"Sure, it was a team and there
were good players on it and everyone contributed, but Patrick Roy is the one
that made it happen that year. Just think about it, we won 10 overtime games
that year. To win 10 in a row -- we lost our first one and then won the next 10
to win the Cup -- that's an NHL record and it will never happen again."
Roy and the Canadiens dropped Game 1
of the Division Semifinals to Quebec
that year in OT and then went on to beat the Nordiques twice in extra time.
Three overtime wins against Buffalo
in the next round helped end that series quickly. The Islanders fell in OT
twice during their five-game ouster and then the Kings, after taking Game 1,
lost three-straight overtime heartbreakers in the Final to all but decide
things in Montreal's
When it was over, Roy had another Conn Smythe Trophy and the
admiration, sometimes given begrudgingly, of all hockey fans.
"The thing was, everybody
believed we would lose each time after the overtime streak reached five,"
recalled Demers, "but we believed we would win because we had Patrick Roy.
He just wouldn't allow us to lose."
playing for the
Islanders these days, was a wide-eyed rookie with the Canadiens that year. To
this day, he has never seen a performance quite like the one Roy turned in during the spring of 1993.
"He's right up there with the
best goalies of all time and, obviously, he was a big-game goalie," Hill
said. "He's won a ton of stuff. I guess the thing I remember most about
him is the OT games we had that year.
"He told us, 'Do what you have
to do down there and don't worry, nothing is getting in down here' And, he held
up to it, obviously. For a guy to say that to his team, that was real
comforting to the rest of the team. To have a guy with that much confidence
back there is a huge thing."
That was the thing about Roy, he liked to talk
almost as much as he liked to play.
He was never shy about tooting his
own horn. But, the thing that made Roy
stand out was that nine times out of 10 he would back up any boast he made.
Always, his teammates understood that when Roy made a promise, he was going to do his
utmost to deliver.
"It wasn't like it was some guy
that hadn't proven himself that was speaking or making claims," Hill says.
"When it is a guy like him talking, you know it is going to happen and, if
it doesn't happen, it is going to be by a fluke or something along those lines.
He was one of the most talented players I played with. He spoke his heart and
what he believed and, more often than not, many many times it happened and far
outweighed the times that it didn't happen."
When Roy spoke, his team not only drew confidence
from it, but motivation, as well, according to Demers. They knew Roy would do everything
possible to win, everything possible to be the best. So, everybody else better
do their part, too, or pay the price. Clearly, there was no room for passengers
on Roy's bus.
"He had the most mental
toughness I have ever seen in a goalie and he was a natural leader," the
former coach said. "If Patrick Roy had been a defenseman or a forward, he
would have been a captain -- there is no doubt about that. He was a born
"Patrick was very demanding of
his teammates because he was always ready and was always prepared to play at
his best. If you did not play hard and you didn't try, you were not going to be
a friend of Patricks's. No way."
That competitiveness was also at the
root of his move to Colorado.
Roy felt under-appreciated during his final
years in Montreal and after one ugly incident
when he was left in a game to suffer an embarrassingly one-sided loss in its
demanded a trade from the city and the team where he had come of age.
The Avalanche stepped in midway
through the 1995-96 season and made an offer to pry the goalie away, forever
changing the future of both franchises.
"I felt that when I left Montreal we were at the end of the road,"
Roy said. "Montreal was heading in maybe a different direction and
the opportunity to go to Colorado,
it was a perfect fit for me.
"Knowing they had the potential
to win the Stanley Cup was a great challenge. It helped me to play more years.
I really believe it gave a second wind to my career."
Colorado won the Stanley Cup that year -- the
franchise's first -- and Roy
was again the backbone of the charge to glory.
was done, he would win another Stanley Cup, helping the Avs knock off the
defending champion New Jersey Devilsin a memorable seven-game series in which Colorado trailed three
games to two. That series win cemented his legacy as the best big-game goalie
in the game.
"The outcome of every game was
so important," Roy
said. "Having the chance to chase the Stanley Cup, it was a lot easier for
me to concentrate and to be focused in the playoffs than it was in the regular
Because that is all that mattered to Roy -- winning. Despite
being a great regular-season goalie and piling up dizzying statistics and
lived to make a difference; to have a lasting impact. It was on that Stanley
Cup stage that a player has the biggest impact and Roy understood this, making that stage his
own for the better part of two decades.
"He wanted to win more than he
wanted stats," Demers says. "Patrick doesn't remember a lot of his
stats, I bet, but he remembers his wins. That was what was important to
Everything about Roy was important to hockey fans. He was the
game's biggest star for much of his career, he redefined the way goaltenders
approached their profession, he won more games than any goalie that came before
him and he earned the respect of hockey fans young and old.
To this day, Hill feels proud to have
known Roy in
the early days of the goalie's odyssey to the Hall of Fame. He says that he
knew the first time he saw Roy
in action, back in that 1992-93 season, that he was witnessing greatness.
"It was in the early 90's
obviously and there was a lot of career left, but if injuries didn't occur or
something out of the blue, he was well on his way to the Hall," Hill said.
"He certainly accomplished that in style."
Yes, Patrick Roy did accomplish that
in style, a feat that will be formally acknowledged Monday as he leads the 2006
Hall of Fame Induction class to their date with immortality.