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Roy returns home to Montreal, watches No. 33 rise @NHL

MONTREAL (AP) - Patrick Roy heard cheers again in Montreal, more than a decade after his bitter divorce from the Canadiens.

All the hard feelings were gone Saturday night, when the storied franchise retired the Hall of Fame goalie's famous No. 33.

"Tonight, I am coming home," Roy said to the raucous, sold-out crowd at the Bell Centre, when his number was raised to the rafters before Montreal played Boston.

Roy won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP twice with the Canadiens, both in years that Montreal captured the Stanley Cup. The first came when Roy was a 20-year-old rookie in 1986 and the other seven years later when he won a record 10 games in overtime.

He retired from the NHL after the 2002-03 season, after a stint with the Colorado Avalanche that produced two more Stanley Cup titles. Roy still holds the career NHL marks for regular-season wins (551) and postseason victories (151).

In Montreal, he is as much remembered for his triumphs as he is for his ugly departure from the Canadiens. On Dec. 2, 1995, Roy was finally pulled from the net by coach Mario Tremblay in the second period after allowing nine goals in an 11-1 home loss to Detroit.

Seething as he stepped past Tremblay - his former roommate - on the bench, Roy turned around and strode over to team president Ronald Corey, who was seated in the front row. He told Corey that he had played his last game for the team.

He was traded to Colorado three days later.

That bitterness was in the past on Saturday night when Roy entered the arena through the front door and was followed through the hallways by a TV crew, that chronicled his arrival on the massive video scoreboard above the ice.

Stunned fans congratulated him as Roy walked past concession stands in the hallway before he was greeted by a standing ovation as he entered the arena.

Shaking hands as he walked down the center aisle behind the Canadiens bench, Roy stopped to greet Jean Beliveau, one of 14 other players whose numbers were retired by the team.

Roy's parents, brother and sister, and his three children were on hand for the ceremony, along with his first three Canadiens coaches, Jean Perron, Pat Burns and Jacques Demers.

Video greetings from former Avalanche teammates Joe Sakic and Ray Bourque, and Luc Robitaille were played.

Drafted by Montreal in 1984, Roy made a brief appearance during the 1984-85 season before making the team for good the following season. A Nordiques fan growing up in the Quebec City area, Roy was nonetheless proud to start his career with the Canadiens.

"Still a teenager, I was entering the NHL through the doors of its most prestigious shrine," Roy said.

Roy thanked his parents and siblings for their support growing up, and former Canadiens GM Serge Savard and Jean Perron, "who gave me my first chance in Montreal."

Francois Allaire, his longtime goalie coach, was praised for helping him perfect his butterfly style that spawned a generation of Quebec-developed goalies.

To underline his influence, the Canadiens brought out 12 minor hockey goalies after he spoke. They were dressed in the uniforms of current Montreal goalies Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak, along with New Jersey's Martin Brodeur, Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, Anaheim's Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Edmonton's Mathieu Garon, Washington's Jose Theodore, Columbus' Pascal Leclaire, Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury, Philadelphia's Martin Biron, Buffalo's Patrick Lalime and former Toronto goalie, Felix Potvin.

Avalanche president Pierre Lacroix addressed the crowd as Roy's invited guest.

Lacroix, Roy's first agent, acquired him from the Canadiens while serving as general manager of the Avalanche. Canadiens captain Mike Keane went with Roy to Colorado in the blockbuster deal, and goalie Jocelyn Thibault, Andrei Kovalenko and Martin Rucinsky were sent to Montreal.

"I've rarely met anyone who devoured life with such intensity," Lacroix said.

Roy made it clear that he had turned the page on the events that led to his departure, "without saying goodbye the way I would have wished."

"Thank you especially to you, the fans, for being demanding, for expecting me to play every game like it was my last," Roy said.

Canadiens captain Saku Koivu, Price and Halak - each wearing Roy's No. 33 - helped him raise his banner as it joined those of Howie Morenz (7), Maurice Richard (9), Beliveau (4), Henri Richard (16), Guy Lafleur (10), Doug Harvey (2), Jacques Plante (1), Dickie Moore and Yvan Cournoyer (12), Bernie Geoffrion (5), Serge Savard (18), Ken Dryden (29), Larry Robinson (19) and Bob Gainey (23).

Roy, inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006, previously had his No. 33 retired by Colorado. He is the sixth NHL player to receive such an honor from two teams.

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