Blast from the Past: Patrick Roy

Blast from the Past: Patrick Roy

Dom Lunardo | May 13th, 2020

Desire, personality, talent, charisma, passion, skill, and a burning will to win. These are just some of the adjectives used to describe Hall-of-Fame goaltender, Patrick Roy. If one was to make a “Mount Rushmore of NHL goaltenders”, Patrick Roy would be forever enshrined in history.

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A proven winner and excellent goalie, Roy was a cornerstone piece for both the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche. His play inspired a generation of youngsters who “wanted to be just like Roy”. His sheer passion for hockey made him one of the most recognizable faces in the game. So just how talented was the Quebec City netminder? Let’s take a look at the storied career of one of the best goalies to ever man the crease.

Draft: 51st overall, 1984, Montreal Canadiens

NHL Clubs: Montreal Canadiens, Colorado Avalanche

NHL All-Star Game Appearances: 11

Stanely Cups (4): 1986, 1993 (Montreal) 1996, 2001 (Colorado)

Hall-of-Fame Inductee: 2006

“La Belle Province” and the Montreal Canadiens

Born in Quebec, Roy aspired to be a goaltender (and a good one at that) at the age of 7. As a youngster, like with so many other players, Roy would “battle it out” with his brother. When he turned 17, Roy joined the Granby Bisons of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). After three seasons in “The Q”, Roy’s name was called by the Montreal Canadiens during the 1984 NHL Draft. A Nordiques fan growing up, playing for the Habs would be a rather sour pill for Roy to swallow. Low and behold, Roy would go down in history as one of the best goaltenders in Canadiens franchise history.  

By the 1985-86 campaign, Roy would help lead the Canadiens all the way to the Stanely Cup Final. In game three of the series, Roy was phenomenal as the Habs were heavily outshot by the New York Rangers. After Claude Lemieux scored in overtime, the Canadiens were just one win away from the cup. Two games later, victory was theirs, as the Canadiens found themselves at the very top of the hockey world. After playing a key role throughout the postseason, Roy was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Roy vs Tremblay, Montreal to Colorado

After winning the Stanley Cup in 1993, temperatures were running high during the 1995-96 season. After Mario Tremblay was named head coach of the Canadiens, times were changing in Montreal. Roy and Tremblay had a fickle and tumultuous relationship. According to Roy, Tremblay mocked his accent on occasion and allegedly shot a puck at Roy’s throat during practice. Things came to a boiling point on a cold December evening against the Detroit Red Wings.  

On December 2, 1995, Montreal suffered an 11-1 defeat on home ice against Detroit. This was the single worst home loss in Canadiens franchise history. Roy himself allowed 9 goals on 26 shots. After (finally) being pulled in the second period, Roy hurried past Tremblay on the bench. On his way off, he had a quick word with the Canadiens president at the time, Ronald Corey. Roy said, “This is my last game in Montreal.” The next day Roy was suspended by the Canadiens and four days later he was traded to Colorado. To this day, Roy felt that Tremblay kept him in net for all 9 goals to publicly humiliate him. In addition, he criticized the Canadiens coach for trading him instead of trying to rectify the situation.

Roy vs. Roenick and the 1996 Stanley Cup

Roy found himself in the spotlight once again during the 1996 playoffs. During the Avalanches’ second-round matchup against Chicago, Blackhawks forward,  Jeremy Roenick was dragged down on a breakaway. The on-ice officials failed to call a penalty shot, and the Hawks would go on to lose in triple overtime. During the post-game interview, Roenick stated, “It should have been a penalty shot, there’s no doubt about it. I like Patrick’s quote that he would’ve stopped me. I’d just want to know where he was in Game 3, probably getting his jock out of the rafters in the United Center maybe.” Roy responded by saying, “I can’t really hear what Jeremy says, because I’ve got my two Stanley Cup rings plugging my ears.”. This was, and still is one of the best “sound bites” in NHL history.

The Avalanche would go on to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks in 6 games (4-2). The 1996 Stanley Cup Finals saw the Avalanche go up against the Florida Panthers. The speed, skill, and pace of that Avalanche team was simply too much for the “Cinderella story”, Florida Panthers. Roy was a Stanley Cup Champion and on top of the hockey world for the third time. In 2001, Roy would win his fourth and final cup as a player. This time around, the mighty Avs defeated the New Jersey Devils in a highly contested 7-game series.

A Generational Talent Between the Pipes

4 Stanley Cups, 3 Conn Smythes, 3 Vezinas, 500+ wins, and his number 33 raised to the rafters. These accolades and how they were achieved make Roy a living icon and legend amongst hockey fans. Few would dispute that “Saint Patrick”, was one of the greatest goaltenders in the history of the game. Roy was one of the best to ever don the iconic “Tricolore” (red, white, and blue) of Montreal. He also carried the same elite level of play to Colorado as a key member of the Avalanche. His style, charisma, cheeky smile, and talent are what people will remember most during his playing days. Never afraid to speak his mind, Roy loved the game and embodied what it meant to be a goalie at the National Hockey League Level. Hockey fans from far and wide will always hold Patrick Roy in special company from a goaltending perspective.

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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images

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