Avalanche greats focused on having fun
Roy, Sakic hoping to 'put on decent show' in Stadium Series Alumni Gameby Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondant
DENVER -- Patrick Roy still loves to compete, still has the same burning desire to win as coach of the Colorado Avalanche as he did during his 18 seasons as an NHL goalie with the Avalanche and Montreal Canadiens.
It's why, by his count, he's put on his goalie equipment to practice between 10 and 15 times in the past few weeks to prepare for the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series Alumni Game on Friday at Coors Field.
A team of retired Avalanche players will play a team of ex-Red Wings players, the preliminary to the main event: the regular-season game between Colorado and Detroit outdoors on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports 2).
"It'll be fun, I'm excited about it," said Roy, who won 551 regular-season games, a League record 151 Stanley Cup Playoff games, and the Stanley Cup four times before he retired following the 2002-03 season. "It will be fun to renew with the fans with the equipment on."
Roy is one of five Hockey Hall of Fame members scheduled to play for the Avalanche alumni. The others: Rob Blake, Ray Bourque, Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic.
Hall of Fame members scheduled to play for the Red Wings alumni include Chris Chelios, Dino Ciccarelli, Igor Larionov, Nicklas Lidstrom, Larry Murphy, Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman.
All played major roles when the Avalanche and Red Wings were bitter rivals between 1996 and 2002. They met five times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with Detroit winning the Cup three times in that period (1997, 1998, 2002), and Colorado twice (1996, 2001).
"First of all, I'm there to enjoy myself, that's the No. 1 thing," Roy said of the alumni game. "I mean, I had my career. Yes, I love to compete, but I'm not that crazy. I love it, you know? But at the same time, I'm going there to have fun, that's the main thing, and renew with those players and the guys from Detroit, and the guys from [Colorado]. I think it's going to be simply fun, that's how I look at it. When the game starts, you never know … it could turn, but it's not the objective."
Sakic, in his second season as Avalanche general manager, had 625 goals and 1,016 assists in a 20-season NHL career with the Quebec Nordiques and Avalanche. He had 84 goals and 104 assists in the playoffs, and he won the Stanley Cup twice in Colorado.
"I think the first period is going to be, 'Let's get into the game,' and try to get the flow going," said Sakic, who retired after the 2008-09 season. "From everything I hear, and I've talked to some of the Detroit guys who have played in these games, if the game is close, the intensity will pick up.
"But I know on both sides, we don't want to embarrass ourselves. We're obviously not going to be at peak conditioning or have our abilities as they once were. We're going to want to make sure we don't embarrass ourselves and will try and put on a decent show."
Sakic has skated about a half-dozen times to prepare for the game but said not to expect too much from what was one of the most accurate wrist shots in the League.
"I think my kids are looking forward to giving me a hard time," he said.
Roy is mostly concerned about his ability to stop shots that come from just outside the crease.
"Blake, Bourque and [Adam] Foote, they better play hard," he said of the Avalanche's best alumni defensemen. "They're the ones who make the (protective) box, right? But it's going to be a great event, going outdoors and playing with the guys who are retired. It's going to be very special to me."