Patrick Roy's #33 to hang from the rafters in Montreal

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Patrick Roy's #33 to hang from the rafters in Montreal

The Montreal Canadiens announced yesterday that Patrick Roy’s #33 will be retired on Nov. 22, in a game against the Boston Bruins.

This is Roy’s first real public appearance with the Canadiens since the disaster of the game that led him to be traded all those years ago.

For those who don’t know, Patrick Roy was my favourite player. I had a Roy jersey that I wore to school two or three times a week. I had newspaper clippings. He was the first player that I wrote, asking for an autograph. Like every young Montreal fan at the time, I idolized him.

What’s weird is that I never got a chance to watch him play in person. I tried. My dad took me to a game in 1993, against L.A. The Habs won 7-2, but their backup was in net.

When I moved to Ottawa in 1995, I bought a six-pack of Senators games, and made sure Montreal was one of them. He was traded before the game happened. And I went to a Colorado-Ottawa game, but back then, the Sens sucked, so the backup always played against them.

The last game of Roy’s Montreal career holds a different type of memory for me than it probably does for most people. It was my first year of university, and I had just started to get to know a good friend of mine, Wendy. She’s from Montreal, and is also a huge Habs fan.

So she kept telling me stories about how she would go to see the Canadiens play in person. She told me the Habs had never lost a game that she has been at. She stressed the word never. She encouraged, no, almost begged me, to make sure I watched that hockey game. She pretty much guaranteed a victory.

So I watched. I would have anyways. I’m a huge Habs fan, remember?

You all know the rest. Patrick Roy was left in net for nine goals, as the Habs lost 12-1 to the Detroit Red Wings. When he was pulled, he went past the coach, Mario Tremblay, and told team president Ronald Correy that he would never play a game for Montreal again.

Four days later, he and captain Mike Keane was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for Andre Kovalenko, Martin Rucinsky and Jocelyn Thibault.

Now that 13 years have passed, it’s time to answer questions left over from that day.

Did Montreal get enough in the trade?Yes. Roy forced Montreal to make a trade. They had little choice. They ended up getting a few players that had the chance to blossom into top players. It didn’t work out, but they in return for Roy, they got a young #1 goalie (who stood on his head at first: remember the chants of Thibault during games?) and two guys who had the opportunity to be offensive players.

Did the trade screw Montreal, helping them become a poor team for the next 10 years?No. Bad trades and bad draft picks did that. From 1994 to 2000, Montreal used their first round picks on Brad Brown, Terry Ryan, Matt Higgins, Jason Ward, Eric Chouinard, Ron Hainsey, and Marcel Hossa. Not exactly a group you can build a team around. In fact, in 1999, Montreal didn’t have a first-round pick. Instead, they used their second-round pick on Alexander Buturlin (yeah, I’ve never heard of him either).

Is this the reason Roy kept fighting Detroit players?Perhaps. In Colorado, Roy got into fights with Mike Vernon, Dominic Hasek and Chris Osgoode, all Detroit goalies. Although the two teams had a huge rivalry, but I wonder if Roy held an extra grudge against them for running up the score that night in Montreal.

Should Roy have been traded? Yes. The egos in play were too big. Tremblay and Roy could never have a player-coach relationship after this, and you have to show that the players are not bigger than the game.

Anyways, Roy brought the Habs to the promised land. Twice.

Both times they won the Stanley Cup, he was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner. With Montreal, he won the Jennings trophy four times and the Vezina trophy three times. He is usually seen as the best goalie of all time. He revolutionized the goalie position, wearing bigger equipment and bringing in the butterfly style.

Despite what happened in that one game, Roy gave it his all for the Habs. He was a leader on the ice. He kept the Habs respectable when they couldn’t score throughout the late 80s and early 90s. Without Roy, our last Stanley Cup won have been in 1979, not 1993.

He deserves to have his jersey hanging from the rafters. And he deserves a standing ovation. I may not idolize him like I once did, but there’s doubt he was something special on the ice.

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