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Habs and Avs have equal place in Roy's heart as he enters the Hall

The Canadian Press
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Colorado Avalanche goalkeeper Patrick Roy. (CPimages \'02/AP/David Zalubowski) Author: The Hockey News

News

Habs and Avs have equal place in Roy's heart as he enters the Hall

The Canadian Press
By:

Luckily for the 41-year-old Quebec City native, the Hockey Hall of Fame doesn't label its greats with one franchise like baseball does when its decides which cap a player must wear on his plaque.

"It would have been a very tough decision for myself," Roy said Thursday. "Fortunately for me, I don't have to make that decision."

It really wouldn't be fair, either. Whether it was capturing two Stanley Cups during 10 1/2 NHL seasons in one of hockey's great meccas or winning another two championships while establishing a new market during 7 1/2 seasons in Denver, Roy insists both share equal parts of his heart.

"I played for two solid organizations and won with both of them," he told reporters during an NHL conference call. "They were both willing to do whatever it takes to win the Stanley Cup.

"I was very fortunate to play for both of them. They were both extremely special to me."

The NHL's all-time winningest goalie officially gets inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Monday along with Dick Duff, Harley Hotchkiss and the late Herb Brooks.

While Duff had to wait more than 30 years, Roy goes in during his first year of eligibility following his retirement four years ago.

He was a no-brainer after amassing 551 regular-season wins and 151 playoff victories - both NHL records, not too mention the hat trick of Conn Smythe Trophies (1986, '93, '96) as playoff MVP and Vezina Trophies as the NHL's top goalie (1989, '90, '92).

"It's hard to believe when you start your first year in the NHL that you're going to be part of the Hall of Fame," said Roy. "It's not something that you feel is possible. When I started my career all I wanted to do was survive at the NHL level and have the best career possible and not be sent to the minors.

"To be honest, I consider myself really lucky to be supported by the organizations that I played for."

That doesn't sound like the cocky and confident Patrick Roy most hockey fans came to love or hate but certainly respect during his illustrious 18-year NHL career.

The image most often associated with Roy was the Habs goalie winking at Tomas Sandstrom of the Los Angeles Kings during an overtime game in the 1993 Stanley Cup final. Roy backstopped Montreal to 10 straight overtime wins that spring and honestly felt like he would not allow a goal in extra time.

The Wink is a moment forever etched in hockey history.

"It was amazing that year," Roy recalled. "I think we were more nervous in the third period than we'd be in overtime. When the overtime would come we got into such a zone and we had so much confidence we'd win.

"I think that was inspired by it. The wink was just showing the opponent that we were in control and we were there to win the game and nothing would get into our way."

Athletes talk about "the zone" and Roy redefined it that year in the playoffs.

"I had that feeling a few times over my career but these are feelings you wish you could have every time you played a game," said Roy. "I remember my first Stanley Cup (in 1986) and the overtime in Game 3 against the Rangers (conference final). . . .

"I just think in overtime it was so much easier to be focused because as a goaltender you know it's over if you allow one more goal," he added. "I really enjoyed these moments. I was in such a zone. And when I say zone, I had such high confidence that nothing could go by."

He won in Montreal and he won in Colorado and now he's winning in his new career as a coach and part-owner of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Quebec Remparts, capturing the Memorial Cup last spring in his first year behind the bench.

"I always thought that winning wasn't everything but it was the only thing," Roy answered when asked what fuelled his burning desire to come out on top.

And he may be ready for yet another challenge. Asked about possibly coaching Canada's national junior team one day, he didn't hesitate.

"This is very possible. If they eventually offer it, I would certainly look at it," Roy said.

Craig Hartsburg of the OHL's Soo Greyhounds will coach this year's junior team in Sweden, which means Roy will have to wait until the January 2008 tournament in the Czech Republic at the earliest. The January 2009 event will be in Ottawa.

"It would certainly be a nice honour to represent my country, it would be a nice challenge to try it," said Roy.

While the world junior championship interests him, the NHL doesn't.

"Junior is my thing now," said Roy. "A lot of people have asked me if I was thinking about going to the NHL level, it's not something that I've thinking about at the moment. At this moment I don't feel like I'm ready for the NHL. There's a lot of coaches that are a lot better than myself. I think there's guys that are more ready than I am.

"I'm still at the stage where I'm adjusting during games and sometimes it takes me too much time to adjust, I'm a little slow sometimes. These are things that I'd like to get better at. So I think junior is the perfect place to be."

Roy hasn't lost his zest for winning, but as a coach he's lost some of his superstitions that were musts when he played goal.

His staple was turning towards the net before a game and imagining it shrinking.

"That's a feeling that I really loved, I felt that net was getting smaller when I did that," said Roy. "It brought me a lot of confidence. But at the end (of his career) it was a bit crazy, I had so many things. I wouldn't touch the line, I was putting the names of my children under the knob and the tape on my stick . . .

"At the end I had too much," he continued while laughing. "Now as a coach I try to get rid of all of them. I've really tried not to have any."

Who needs luck on your side when you're Patrick Roy.

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Habs and Avs have equal place in Roy's heart as he enters the Hall