I still contend that Patrick Roy’s biggest enemy is his tremendous goaltender’s ego. He couldn’t WAIT to divert attention away from the Stanley Cup Finals, announcing his retirement (two years too late, in my view). His career will forever be marred by his characterless departure from the Montreal Canadians. I still contend that he was NOT picked for the Canadian 2002 Olympic Team, which sparked his rather hasty announcement that he would not participate, two days prior to Gretzky’s announcement of the roster…
Roy announces retirement from NHL
DENVER (AP-CP) – Patrick Roy’s piercing blue eyes gave no hint of the emotional moment. While those around him choked back tears and had trouble speaking, Roy barely blinked.
One of the greatest goalies in NHL history had been preparing for this moment for nearly a year.
“I feel great about my decision,” Roy said Wednesday after announcing his retirement. “I really feel like I emptied the tank and I’m ready to move on. I step aside with no regrets.”
Roy is just two years removed from his best regular season and is still considered one of the league’s premier goalies at 37, but he figured it would be better to go out on top rather than tarnish his image.
“It’s always been important for me to play with consistency, but also leave on my own terms,” said Roy, who made the decision to retire before this season. “I think I’ve accomplished everything I wanted and I think I’ve done basically what I think I should.”
It’s hard to imagine doing much more.
Roy won four Stanley Cup titles – two each with Colorado and Montreal – and holds nearly every major goaltending record. He is the only three-time winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the MVP of the playoffs.
He is the league’s career leader in victories with 551 and games played with 1,029, and he’s also tops in playoff victories, games played and shutouts.
His 23 playoff shutouts and his 247 post-season games and 151 wins are well ahead of Grant Fuhr, who is second with 150 games and 92 wins. He also popularized the butterfly style of play.
“You always knew you would have a chance to win with Patrick in net,” said Mike Keane, who played with Roy in Colorado and Montreal.
Roy announced his retirement at a news conference attended by his wife Michele and three children, Avalanche coach Tony Granato, and teammates Keane, Joe Sakic and Brad Larsen.
The biggest sports news in Denver since John Elway retired three years ago was carried live on several local television stations was beamed live via satellite to Montreal, where reporters were able to ask questions. The news conference was also carried live in Canada on Rogers Sportsnet, CBC Newsworld, The Score, RDS, the Quebec all-news channels RDI and LCN.
With a large mural of him as a backdrop and a cutout of his figure in front of a goal on the side, Roy reflected on a career that began with a six-year-old kid stopping shots in the upstairs of his parents’ house with pillows strapped to his legs.
“I’ve had a blast. It’s been unbelievable. I’ve been so fortunate to have lived a dream and have fun for more than 18 years earning a living by playing a game I love,” said Roy, who spoke in English and French during the news conference.
Those around him had a little more trouble accepting that Roy had left the crease for the last time.
Michele Roy got teary-eyed on several occasions and Avalanche general manager Pierre Lacroix choked back tears as he talked about his relationship with Roy.
“I was fortunate to share a lot of experiences with Patrick and his family,” said Lacroix, who was Roy’s agent before bringing him to Denver in 1995 in a trade with Montreal.
“Every hockey fan in Colorado and throughout the world will always remember your remarkable accomplishments,” Lacroix said as he turned to Roy.
Roy said his only emotional time came the morning after Colorado’s Game 7 loss to Minnesota in the first round of this year’s playoffs, a game in which he gave up the winning goal to Andrew Brunette in overtime.
“That morning when I got up, I had tears in my eyes thinking that could be the last game,” Roy said. “But from there I really felt good about everything.”
Roy has been bothered by arthritic hips and has lost some of his mobility, but said his health had no bearing on the decision.
“This year was probably the best year,” Roy said of his health. “Injury was not even a factor in my decision.”
In retiring, Roy walks away from one year left on his contract, which was at Colorado’s option, worth $8.5 million US. He is due a $1-million bonus upon retirement.
Roy said he’s open to serving in a management role with an NHL team, but his immediate plans are to move back to Quebec and work with the junior team he owns, the Remparts. He also wants to spend time following the career of his son, Jonathan, who will begin playing at Notre Dame, the prestigious prep school in Saskatchewan, in the fall.
Lacroix said the Avalanche will retire Roy’s No. 33 jersey during a game next season. It will hang next to Ray Bourque’s No. 77, the only other Avalanche jersey to be retired since the team moved to Colorado in 1995. The Montreal Canadiens wouldn’t say Wednesday if they will follow suit.
His relationship with the team ended on bad terms when, on Dec. 2, 1995, Mario Tremblay, who had replaced Jacques Demers as head coach of the Canadiens two weeks into the season, left Roy in for nine goals of an 11-1 loss to Detroit at the old Montreal Forum.
Roy raised his arms in defiance to the braying crowd and when he was finally pulled, he brushed past Tremblay, leaned over to team president Ronald Corey and said he was finished in Montreal. He was soon traded Colorado.
He also angered many Canadian hockey fans when he decided not to play for Canada at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. He said it was because he wanted to focus on his NHL season but many felt it was because he wasn’t guaranteed a starting spot. Canada went on to win the gold medal. Roy did play in the 1998 Winter Games in Japan where Canada finished fourth.
When asked Wednesday if he had any regrets about missing out on the gold medal, Roy didn’t miss a beat.
“Not at all,” he said. “I went to the Olympics in Nagano and I had a good time there. It was perfect. I had my chance, at the time I thought I had other things to do and I still have no regrets.”