Whenever Rochester Americans rookie Frederick Roy decides to retire from professional hockey and reflect on his playing career, he’d like to say that he lifted the Stanley Cup like his famous father once did.
But even if Roy, the youngest son of Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy, doesn’t make it that far, what he doesn’t want is to look back with regret. Life is too short, he says.
That’s why, at age 18, he left hockey and family behind in Quebec City and hopped on a plane for a one-way trip to California, hoping to uncover a new passion somewhere in the bright lights of Hollywood.
It’s not that Roy wasn’t producing with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, or that he wasn’t having a good time playing on the team backstopped by older brother, Jonathan, and coached by his father. He needed a break from the rigors that came along with the game that had consumed his life for as long as he could remember.
It wasn’t as much a blind leap of faith, Roy said, as it was a mental vacation for a teenager caught up in a mix of emotions. So he seized the opportunity.
“I think the worst thing is to have regrets; you have to put it all out there. It was something I always wanted to try,” Roy explains. “Mentally, I needed a break from the game. There were a lot of emotions. When you’re so young, you have your whole life ahead of you. It was one of those things where if I didn’t do it then, I might never get the chance to do it again.
“I’ve played hockey since I was two years old and everything was always about hockey my whole life. I didn’t want to be 30 years old and say, ‘Why didn’t I do that when I had the chance?’ For me, it was important to take a step back.”
It worked for a while. Roy hired a manager, took acting classes and experienced firsthand what life among the stars is really like. He even played a small role as a background actor for a Disney commercial.
Despite it all, Roy knew in the back of his mind that something wasn’t right.
“It made me realize how much I love the game of hockey,” Roy said. “I missed the game, being with the boys, making passes and winning games. I just knew that I wanted to come back. I knew I wanted to have a career in the NHL and give myself an opportunity to do that and finish what I started since I was little.”
I missed the game. I just knew that I wanted to come back. I knew I wanted to have a career in the NHL and give myself an opportunity to do that and finish what I started since I was little. - Frederick Roy
So Roy made his way back to the Remparts in 2010, rejuvenated and eager to continue his hockey career. He would score 53 goals and 150 points over the next two seasons, playing under his father and alongside teammates like Buffalo Sabres’ 2012 first-round draft pick Mikhail Grigorenko.
Roy also used his final years in junior as an opportunity to enjoy the relationship shared between he and his father, continuing to learn what it takes to be a pro from the man whose 551 career wins are second all-time in NHL history.
“It was great [playing for his dad]. My dad and I are like best friends,” Roy gleamed. “Not a lot of people are able to say they were coached by their father. We got to share in the passion for the game and that brought us a lot closer. To share that passion and be together on the same team, it’s great memories. That’s a time I’ll remember until I am old and gray.
“I still learn a lot from him, not only about hockey, but about life and everything else. He understands the game so well. That’s what made him such a great player.”
Though the 5-foot-10, 160-pound winger went undrafted again in June, Roy’s showing at the Sabres’ scouting combine earned him an invite to the team’s development camp and, eventually, a one-year, two-way deal with the club.
The 21-year-old is now learning to live life as a pro, regret free, in Rochester. Roy has three points in 18 games for the Amerks this season, and scored his first professional goal against San Antonio on November 28. The feisty winger is also among the team leaders with 32 penalty minutes, including a pair of fighting majors.
As far as his acting career goes, he said there will always be a chance to reopen that door, though it’ll remain closed until he’s finished on the ice.
“You never know,” Roy joked. “Right now I’m here, loving what I’m doing and that for me is where I want to be. Right now I’m focusing on hockey, getting to the NHL and winning a Stanley Cup.”
Roy admits he may never win four Stanley Cups like his father did, but he’s working toward creating his own legacy, holding out hope that one day he too will enjoy a Hollywood ending to an NHL career.