MONTREAL – It may have been 13 years since Patrick Roy last brought Canadiens fans to their feet, but once St. Patrick made his grand entrance at the Bell Centre, it felt like only yesterday.
All is forgiven. The king has returned to his throne.
As if there wasn’t enough drama leading in to the retirement of his trademark No. 33, Roy left no doubt that he was home for good.
After having left Montreal by the backdoor back in 1995, Roy made certain his return would see him walk in the front door, literally. Roy’s royal entrance saw him file into the Bell Centre from outside on De La Gauchetiere Street, surrounded by astonished fans going through the turnstiles themselves.
Following his dramatic walk through the concourse, Roy weaved his way down through the stands before reaching the red carpet that awaited him on the ice. What followed was a lengthy standing ovation that seemed to even catch a visibly emotional Roy by surprise.
After being showered with praise by his former Habs coaches Jean Perron, Pat Burns and Jacques Demers, as well as longtime friend and former agent Pierre Lacroix, Roy then carefully made his way to the podium.
“I may have left without probably saying goodbye the way I would have like to, but I’ve always cherished my great memories from my time in Montreal,” admitted Roy. “I remember those nights when we made the walls of the Forum tremble as we lit up Montreal. Tonight, I’ve come home.”
Accompanied by his three children, Jonathan, Frederick and Jana, his parents Michel and Barbara and his siblings Stephane and Alexandra, the proud warrior let his guard down, in a way he rarely did over the course of his Hall of Fame career.
“I have to thank my family who let me fulfill my destiny of becoming an NHL goalie,” said Roy. “I got the chance to wear the most noble of armors, the Montreal Canadiens jersey. I was filled with an insatiable hunger to win for all of you, my fans.”
A true goaltending pioneer armed with his famous butterfly style he helped popularize with trusty goalie coach Francois Allaire, and role model for an entire generation of Quebec goalies, Roy will never forget where it all began for him.
“Thanks for being so demanding and for expecting us to play each game as if it was our last,” continued Roy as he addressed his longtime fans. “Thank you for understanding how each victory was a piece of history. Tonight, we’re retiring an important piece of my armor, but I will always remember the pride with which I wore the bleu-blanc-rouge.”
Despite having made a living at always coming through in high pressure situations, Roy nevertheless had butterflies in his stomach before his ceremony got underway.
“I sure could have used my mask tonight,” admitted a nervous Roy just before making his grand entrance. “It would have been even easier for me to be in nets tonight. Give me a game over this any day!”
True to form, Patrick pulled through and gave the people what they wanted—one last chance to chant his name. Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.comRead also:
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