NHL

Roy recalls 1995 departure from Habs and his only regret

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TSN.ca Staff
3/17/2014 10:21:16 PM
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When Patrick Roy returns to Montreal on Tuesday as an NHL head coach for the first time, he will have a chance to look up to the rafters of the Bell Centre and enjoy the presence of his Canadiens No. 33 retired jersey banner.

But as the Colorado Avalanche bench boss told TSN's Michael Farber in conversation, the road from his 1995 departure from the Habs, to that jersey honour, to his present-day job in Denver has been long and thought-provoking.

Roy played his last game for Montreal on Dec. 2, 1995 when he was left in the net for the first nine goals of a 12-1 Detroit Red Wings victory. When he was finally pulled, he stormed past head coach Mario Tremblay to team president Ronald Corey and told him that the game would be his last with the Canadiens.

Four days later, the future hall of famer was traded to the Avalanche as part of a five-player package.

Fast forward 13 years with plenty of water under the bridge, and the Canadiens retired Roy's jersey on Nov. 22, 2008.

Farber asked Roy if the raising of his number to the rafters put his difficult exit from Montreal behind him.

"I have to say yes it did, but for me it was before that," explained Roy. "When I retired I was already in peace in what happened in Montreal, and when Pierre Boivin and Bob Gainey came over to my house and talked about retiring my jersey and start talking to me, (asking) how do you feel...I said I'm already in peace, I've already moved on.

"I understand that hockey is a business, I made a mistake, and I'm sure on the other side they felt like they made a mistake as well. But at the end I'm not there to judge. I was so happy to get back into the Canadiens family."

Roy also recalled being frustrated by a separate incident from the same night, when late-arriving teammate Vincent Damphousse was not disciplined by Tremblay prior to the Detroit game.

"Mario, I thought he was tough on me...I thought he was trying to send messages by being tougher on me. And I always thought that as a coach you need to be fair, and on that day I thought that Vinny was privileged.

"He came in late because he slept in, and I just felt that was unfair to the team. Everybody has their opinion, everybody has their thinking about how things could have happened that night, and let's leave the past where it is."

Would Roy have still been a Canadien if he had been pulled after the first five goals had been scored?

"I have no idea," answered Roy. "I remember being down 5-1 after the first period and Mario came into the room and asked, "are you okay?"...and I said "yes I'm okay". At some point I felt so sorry for my teammates (since) I couldn't stop a beach ball. My head wasn't there any more, I couldn't stop a puck.

"You're almost asking for help, but at the end we're professional, you stay calm, and this is something I did not do."

With the game 7-1 and catcalls coming from the home fans in Montreal, Roy made a save on a long shot by Sergei Fedorov and raised his arms to the crowd. He disclosed that his mocking action remains his only regret about the entire night.

"My only one. Every day I played in Montreal, I was ready to play...I was ready to compete. I was accountable for the team. I wanted my teammates knowing that they could close their eyes knowing that their goalie will come that night and play hard for them. That's what I wanted."

Farber asked what prompted Roy to raise his arms after the save.

"It's just frustration I guess. The fans love the Canadiens. The fans are...to them, they love the team, and if a player doesn't perform, then it is what it is. If you're performing, it's the best place to be, and I knew that."

Roy discussed why he spoke to Corey, who was seated in the front row behind the Montreal bench, after he had finally been pulled.

"Because I think at the time, this is where we were. I've been brought up to win the Stanley Cup, and I just felt like things (had) changed. I'm not saying I wanted to leave Montreal, it was just time and unfortunately it happened that way."

With that history firmly in Roy's past, the Avalanche head coach is looking forward to playing his old club on Tuesday.

"I was happy to be a part of the Montreal Canadiens...it means a lot to me to be able to go coach (against them), but I'm going to try to approach it as a hockey game."

Patrick Roy Canadiens 1995 (Photo: B Bennett/Getty Images)

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(Photo: B Bennett/Getty Images)
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