Former teammates, rivals, remember Roy as the ultimate winner
Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Patrick Roy (right) is greeted by Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu following on ice ceremonies prior to NHL action between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto on Saturday. (CP/Frank Gunn)
Former teammates, rivals, remember Roy as the ultimate winner
"The best one was the Jeremy Roenick thing," Sakic said this week from Denver.
Sakic and Roy were on their way to Colorado's first Stanley Cup that spring but not before disposing of Roenick's Chicago Blackhawks in the second round.
Roenick, never lost for words, taunted Roy between games, recalling a goal he scored on the great goalie.
"I'd like to know where Patrick was in Game 3, probably up trying to get his jock out of the rafters."
Roy came back with a line for the ages in his broken English: "I cannot really hear what Jeremy says because I've got my two Stanley Cup rings plugging my ear."
"And that was Patrick's first year with us, his English wasn't perfect at the time so it was pretty funny," said Sakic. "That was hilarious.
"But he always had a comeback for anybody, he was a very funny guy."
The two Cup rings "plugging" Roy's ears were captured in Montreal. He added two more to his resume in Denver and that's just one of the many reasons his pedigree as one of the game's greatest goaltenders - some say the best - earns him an induction Monday into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"Patrick Roy was an outstanding goaltender, a fierce competitor and a winner," said Wayne Gretzky, whose Los Angeles Kings lost to Roy's Habs in the 1993 Cup final. "He deserves this honour and will be a great addition to the Hockey Hall of Fame. He loved to play the game of hockey."
Original Six era forward Dick Duff will be inducted with Roy in the players' category Monday, while Harley Hotchkiss, part owner of the Calgary Flames and chairman of the NHL's board of governors, and the late Herb Brooks, who coached four NHL clubs and the Miracle On Ice team that won 1980 Olympic gold for the United States, get inducted in the builders' category.
But Roy is the clear headliner, inducted in his first year of eligibility after retiring following the 2002-03 season. He won Cups with Montreal in 1986 and 1993 and two with Colorado in 1996 and 2001 while also piling up other honours.
He won three Vezina Trophies as the league's top goalie, three Conn Smythe Trophies as playoff MVP and racked up 551 regular-season wins and 151 playoff victories - both NHL records.
"It's a no-brainer, obviously, that he's going in the Hall," said former Habs teammate Vincent Damphousse. "Who could possibly vote against him?"
Damphousse, like many others, marvelled as Roy's intense desire to win.
"He was the best player that I ever played with over the course of my NHL career and the one that made the biggest impact on our team," said Damphousse. "Patrick was always an excellent goalie but the one thing with him, the more the game was important, the better he performed. And I think that sticks with everybody he played with. He was very clutch.
"He showed some arrogance when he was in net and even in the dressing room when he knew he could win. That really instilled confidence in his teammates. And that's what happened with us in when we won the Cup in '93."
Atlanta Thrashers head coach Bob Hartley, who coached Roy in Colorado, didn't hesitate when asked to describe his former goalie.
"The ultimate winner, the ultimate winner," he said. "You looked in his eyes and you saw fire."
Tomas Sandstrom looked in Roy's eyes during an overtime game in the '93 Cup final and got a wink from the cocky Habs netminder - a moment forever stitched in NHL playoff lore.
"It's a moment that was caught on camera that shows how Patrick Roy is," said Damphousse. "He was just so calm in one of the biggest games of the year. It's the Stanley Cup final and he looks at Sandstrom right the eye and basically said: 'You're not going to be beat me.' That was a great shot that was captured. And that's just the way he felt. He would tell us, 'Guys, don't worry, I'm not letting another goal in.'
"We won 10 games in a row in overtime that year. Yes he was cocky and confident and but you can only be that way if you can back it up. And he was able to back it up every time."
Roy could simply will his team to victory. He was that kind of difference-maker. Sakic found out first-hand while still a rival of Roy's during the last Battle of Quebec playoff series in 1993.
It was the first round of the playoffs and the Nordiques had way more firepower in Sakic, Mats Sundin and Owen Nolan, and early on it appeared they were the better team.
"We had a 2-0 lead in the series," said Sakic. "And then our goalie coach at the time, Dan Bouchard, said something in the papers like 'We know Roy's weakness.' Well, we lost the next four games and Patty stood on his head. That said it all about him."
Hartley recalls arriving at the rink in East Rutherford, N.J., for Game 6 of the 2001 Stanley Cup final.
"We're down 3-2 in the series at that point," Hartley said. "We're on the bus coming into the parking lot. There were already tailgaters with signs, mostly nasty signs for Ray (Bourque) saying like 'No Cup for Ray' and stuff like that. They had Game 6 in their building and probably thought it was over. There were also a couple of signs for Patrick. Suddenly Patrick just got up in the bus and started tapping on the window and screaming in French, 'You can have your signs and say what you want but the Devils won't score a goal.'
"Adam Foote looked at me and said 'What the hell is he saying?' I said, 'Don't worry for us, I think we're in good shape.' I think Patrick made like 18 saves in that first period. They could have had four or five goals in that first period and won the Cup. But I'll never forget that moment on the bus. Patrick looked like a tiger in a cage. He must have said four or five times, 'You will not score a goal on us tonight."'
The Avs blanked the Devils 4-0 in Game 6 and took Game 7 by a 3-1 score as Roy captured his final championship.
"I'm telling you, you want nobody else if you're in a pressure situation with your backs against the wall," said Sakic. "I couldn't think of anybody else you'd want ahead of Patrick. When he put his mind to something, that was it."
Roy's impact, meanwhile, touched many a goalie. Along with celebrated goalie coach Francois Allaire, the butterfly style of goaltending perfected by Roy swept through hockey.
"His style, when he brought in the butterfly, I think it changed everything," said Minnesota Wild goalie Manny Fernandez. "He changed the whole goaltending thinking."
Fernandez says Roy influenced much more than just Quebec-born goalies.
"I would think he had an impact on every goalie in the world," said Fernandez. "When Francois Allaire changed Patrick to the butterfly style, that changed everything for everybody. Guys used to stand up in the past and get beat on the ice. Now every goalie has a butterfly base at least.
"And for us who lived in the province or Quebec or in Montreal and got to see him play up close, it really impacted us on the way we played."
Vancouver Canucks star goalie Roberto Luongo, who grew up in Montreal during Roy's heyday with the Habs, says for his generation Roy is definitely the greatest netminder.
"You can't take that away from him," said Luongo. "What he did in his career, his wins, his Stanley Cups, Vezinas and Conn Smythes.
"I never saw any of the older generation goalies. He's really the one that's been the best I've ever seen."