Open Debate: Should the Montreal Canadiens Retire the 33?
December 2, 1995
The Detroit Red Wings are at the Old Forum. At the second period, the score is already 7-1 for the Wings. Patrick Roy is still in the net. The score is 9-1, and Mario Tremblay finally replaces the goaltender. Arriving at the bench, Roy declares to President Ronald Corey that it would be his last game as a Canadiens.
December 6, 1995
Patrick Roy and Mike Keane are traded to the Colorado Avalanche for Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky, and Andrei Kovalenko.
June 11, 1996
The Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup.
October 28, 2003
The Colorado Avalanche retire the No. 33.
The season is one month away and we are about to celebrate the centenary. Words have been spread last season about retiring the No. 33 for this special season. But it won't pass without controversy, if it does pass.
A few days after the brawl scandal involving Patrick Roy and son Jonathan during the QJMLH first round playoffs, veteran Sports Columnist Red Fisher published an article in The Gazette: "No.33 Not Fit to Be Retired."
Among other arguments about Roy's character, behavior, and arrogance, Fisher argued that "Canadiens owner George N. Gillett Jr. and team president Pierre Boivin should know it's a bad decision—and has been from the start. If they have, what they must do is look long and hard at it and then decide whether retiring his No. 33 is good for the game and for the organization."
Legend Jean Beliveau still wonders. "Honestly, I don't know what I would do. Should the on-ice milestones be separated from the every day life? Those are questions the committee should ask itself."
Agreed, confusion is legitimate. But not retiring his number would mean not acknowledging what he did for the organization AS A PLAYER.
Recalling his rookie-year Stanley Cup and the 1993 run to the 24th, Red Fisher continues, "those were on-ice moments to cherish, but there have also been off-ice issues that people can't forget or forgive. Ugly moments. Controversial moments. Disgusting moments such as Saturday's brawl during which Roy's son continued punching a defenceless Nadeau after he had been wrestled to the ice."
To take Fisher's very own sentence, "those were on-ice moments to cherish."
For sure, Roy's credibility and sportsmanlike behavior have been everything but admirable lately. But should we then erase what he did as a player? Should we erase from our memories the images of this rookie goaltender lifting the cup?
"Saint Patrick" has always been a big part of the history of the Habs, like Larry Robinson, Bob Gainey, Jean Beliveau. And what the other three have in common is when you raise your eyes at the Bell Center, you would see the honor the team made them, in response to the honors they gave to the team.
Don't get me wrong. I was as shocked as anyone seeing what happened for the Patrick/Jonathan Roy incident. I guess Roy is the most controversial coach the QJMHL will ever have!
But if he had said that night, "in the name of the Montreal Canadiens, I, Patrick Roy, order you (Jonathan) to go and punch the kid," then I would have sent Red Fisher a basket of fruits for his amazing and convincing article.
But Patrick Roy is Patrick Roy. And for what he gave us back in the time, he deserves his number to be retired.
Now, that is just about my humble opinion. How the Canadiens will handle the case, and how the case will impact on the fans, that is another story.
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