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Remembering Roy's career-changing game

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TSN.ca Staff with RDS.ca files
9/11/2008 11:49:58 AM
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On December 2, 1995, the hockey world changed for both Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens in what was supposed to be another Saturday night game at The Forum.

At home to face the Detroit Red Wings, the Habs played their worst home game in franchise history, losing in a 12-1 blowout.

Roy was kept in goal by then head coach Mario Tremblay for the first nine goals, and the Forum fans jeered him when he made an easy save.

Embarrassed, Roy raised his hands in mock celebration. When he was finally pulled, he stormed past Tremblay and told team president Ronald Corey that he had played his last game in bleu, blanc et rouge.

"It's my last game in Montreal," he said.

Roy later told the Montreal media that Tremblay had humiliated him by leaving him in net after he gave up five first-period goals on 17 shots and was taking abuse from the Forum faithful. He added that he would not have asked to be traded if the new coach (hired in place of Jacques Demers) hadn't forced him to go back on the ice for the second period.

Canadiens defenceman Mathieu Dandenault, who played in that infamous game as a rookie for the Red Wings, remembered it well. "I did not think that it was so serious, that it would involve the trading of Patrick Roy," he told RDS.ca.

"It was surprising." 

Roy's dislike of his former teammate-turned coach reportedly preceded the Detroit game, as the two were also involved in arguments at practice. Tremblay also criticized Roy during his years as a sports-talk radio host.

Four days after the incident at The Forum, Roy was traded to the Colorado Avalanche with captain Mike Keane in exchange for young netminder Jocelyn Thibault and forwards Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko.

With Roy minding the net behind a powerhouse lineup that included Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg, the Avalanche won their first Stanley Cup the following June and again in 2001. A member of Canada's Olympic team in 1998, Roy also grabbed headlines in the 2000-01 season when he passed Terry Sawchuk in career wins.

By contrast, it took years for the Canadiens to recover from the deal.

Kovalenko's stay in Montreal was short-lived and the winger was later traded to Edmonton for Scott Thornton. Rucinsky enjoyed three straight 50+ point seasons in Montreal, but struggled later with a club that failed to make the playoffs for three straight seasons. He was traded to the Dallas Stars with Benoit Brunet in 2001 in a deal that brought forwards Donald Audette and Shaun Van Allen to the Canadiens. 

Thibault enjoyed early success with the Habs, but struggled in his second season with the club, prompting the Habs to sign veteran Andy Moog for the 1997-98 campaign. Thibault was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks the following season in a six-player deal for netminder Jeff Hackett, and it wasn't until the 2001-2002 season that the Canadiens finally had a bonafide No. 1 goalie in Hart and Vezina Trophy winner Jose Theodore.

Now retired and leading the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts as head coach and general manager, Roy has clearly moved on. But he does relish more chances to return to the Canadiens on good terms.

"I would like to go in the Bell Centre more often, but I am always afraid of the reactions," Roy told RDS.ca. "I am always afraid to see how certain people will react because of that game.

Unfortunately, I must live with that. It created barriers which should not have existed."

Files from RDS.ca were used for this feature.

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