Saturday, November 22, 2008

Patrick Roy's greatness

Nearly 13 years ago, Patrick Roy was playing the worst game of his professional career. After finally being pulled, Roy skated past his coach to inform the president of the vaunted Montreal Canadiens that he had just played his last game for them.

On Saturday night, that rift will finally be healed.

Montreal will honor the NHL’s all-time wins leader by retiring Roy’s No. 33 before the Canadiens take on the surging Boston Bruins.

Roy is second in the Canadiens’ storied history with 289 victories and helped Montreal to Stanley Cups in 1986 and 1993, when he won 10 straight overtime games en route to the second of his three Conn Smythe Trophies.

But less than two years after Montreal’s last title, Roy’s divorce from the Canadiens would be as stunning and quick as it was messy.

Facing Detroit on Dec. 2, 1995, Roy gave up nine goals on 26 shots in an 11-1 loss. When he was replaced late in the second period by journeyman Pat Jablonski, Roy snubbed coach Mario Tremblay and leaned over to team president Ronald Corey, who was sitting behind the bench, and said he was through with the Canadiens.

Within days, Roy was dealt with Mike Keane to Colorado for Andrei Kovalenko, Martin Rucinsky and Jocelyn Thibault in arguably one of the most lopsided trades in NHL history.

“I think (we’re) finally gonna put away that December 2nd of ‘95,” Roy said in a conference call this week. “When you get to the NHL they say to you, one game does not make a career. But one game made pretty much (made) my career in Montreal.”

Roy played eight seasons with Colorado, and became that franchise’s leader with 262 victories and 37 shutouts. He went on to win Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001, and the Avalanche retired his No. 33 in 2003.

That also was when the three-time Vezina Trophy winner left the game as the all-time leader with 551 wins - including 32 against Boston. He still is the leader among goaltenders in games played (1,029), playoff games (247), postseason wins (151) and shutouts (23).

Roy’s regular-season wins record will almost surely be eclipsed by New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur, who has 544 victories but also will be out for much of the remainder of the season after elbow surgery.

Now the co-owner and coach of a junior team in his native Quebec City, Roy will become the 15th Canadiens player to have his jersey retired.

“You have no control on whether your jersey will be retired, but I certainly hoped it would happen one day,” Roy said.

Check this great article if you want to learn more about Roy's illustrious career.

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