Goaltender Patrick Roy has been a fan of Rogatien "Rogie" Vachon ever since he was a young boy growing up in Quebec City. Roy, inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006, won the Stanley Cup four times and is second in NHL history with 551 wins. Here he shares his thoughts on Vachon, who will be inducted into the Hall on Monday, in a special testimonial for NHL.com:
Every time I was playing hockey with friends as a boy in my Quebec City backyard, I was Rogie Vachon. He was spectacular and he had great hands. The fact he was playing in Los Angeles then was, I guess, not the best window for him. But at the same time it was enough for kids like me to watch him when he came to Montreal with the Kings.
One night, when I was about 8 years old, my dad said to me, "We're going to the Montreal Forum to watch Rogie Vachon with the Kings." I was so happy. It was a chance to spend some time alone with my dad, and going to the hockey game was a big deal for me. Unfortunately that night didn't go well for Rogie because the Kings lost. But just to be there to watch the game was an incredible night.
It had a big influence on me. I remember going back on the ice the next day so pumped. Sometimes it just takes a little thing to have a big impact on a kid. And I still have some Rogie hockey cards in my collection.
This is the perspective of a young kid who was just watching hockey, but most of the goaltenders in Rogie's day were staying deep in their net. Rogie was challenging the shooters a lot more than other goaltenders. That's how I saw it.
I was 11 during the 1976 Canada Cup when Canada was playing the Czechs, and Rogie moved way out of his net to make a save. I was a little young to remember all the details, but I recall thinking, "That's what I want to do, challenge the shooters more." It made sense. When you come out, you take some space from the shooters. That was one of my favorite Rogie moments from early on.
I'm not surprised that a man as small as Rogie, at just 5-foot-7, could thrive in the NHL. No, not at all. I admit that the game has changed. Today at 6-foot-1 I'd be just an average-sized goaltender. Today's goalies are much bigger and they move faster; the position has really changed. But Rogie was quick. He had great reflexes and he was fun to watch. I think it was fun for a young boy like me to watch him play because he was entertaining. That's what I loved about him. He was playing with his heart, making the best out of what he was given.
Rogie and I met for the first time on a golf course in Los Angeles in maybe 1993. Then in 2003, with the Colorado Avalanche, when I played my 1,000th regular-season NHL game, Rogie was the one who came onto the ice to present me with the silver stick to mark the occasion. Pierre Lacroix, my agent who had become my general manager in Denver, understood how much I respected and admired Rogie. And Pierre knew the impact Rogie had not just on my career but on my choice to become a goaltender in the first place.
When I met Rogie on the golf course I was still his fan and I was very impressed by him. It was a fun day, even if I'm pretty sure he was the better golfer. I'd been in the League for maybe seven years, so it's not like it was the day I first saw him play when I was 8 years old. But still, it had a huge impact on me to golf with him and then go to his house afterwards and have dinner. It was a very special day that meant a lot to me.
I have a great amount of respect for Rogie for many reasons. He was my idol as a boy, and he gave me a dream as I watched him play. I wanted to be like him, I wanted to have that job and be the guy who could be spectacular in the net, even if in a different fashion. He had a great career, even if playing in L.A. was different then than it is today, with limited view of him in the East back then because of time zones and no Internet.
He's a really kind person, a simple man in the best way and someone who's very respectful of the game. I'm very happy to see him being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, which is where he deserves to be.