By Jim Benton, Rocky Mountain News
Patrick Roy won’t forget Denver’s two Stanley Cup parades or watching hockey grow in Colorado. The Colorado Avalanche goalie, part of the 40th class to be inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, left Colorado hockey fans with memorable moments—but Roy has lasting memories of Colorado, too.
“The two Stanley Cup parades we had in Colorado were unbelievable,” Roy said. “They were really fun. But what really sticks out in my mind is how hockey has picked up in Colorado. I was involved with the youth hockey with my two sons. I realized how hockey has grown and that is probably the part I was most impressed with.”
Roy came to Denver on December 6, 1995 after Colorado Avalanche Manager Pierre Lacroix finalized a five-player trade with the Montreal Canadiens.
“I thought it was a great situation because I knew the team, playing so many years against them when they were in Quebec,” Roy said. “I knew the talent that was there. I really looked forward to that challenge of going into a market. All I had heard was good comments that the people were very supportive to the team and I thought it would be a very good experience after 10 years in Montreal.”
Roy helped the Avalanche win two Stanley Cup championships and retired last May with myriad standards, in regular-season National Hockey League records for games played by a goalie (1,029), victories (551), minutes played (60,235) and most 30-plus victory seasons (13). Known for his playoff prowess, he owns records for games played (247), victories (151), shutouts (23), consecutive wins (11) and 10-plus win playoff campaigns (9).
“Playing for the avalanche, wearing that uniform for the past eight years and playing behind a group of great players was a privilege,” Roy said.
An 11-time All-Star, Roy won four Stanley Cups (two with Montreal and two with Colorado), three Conn Smythe Awards (MVP of the playoffs) and three Vezina trophies that go to the player voted best goalie in the league.
Avalanche fans were treated to Roy’s Statue of Liberty poses after glove saves, his trademark head bobs, confrontations with Red Wings goalies and victory after victory. Roy played in 478 regular-season games, collected 262 wins and 37 shutouts with the Avalanche. He played in 131 playoffs with 81 wins and 18 shutouts.
A banner with Roy’s No. 33 hangs above the playing surface at the Pepsi Center, but Roy remembers the first few years in Denver when Avalanche players dressed and showered in the miniscule dressing rooms after practices at the South Suburban Ice Arena. He also recalls the times players, still in practice gear, drove on I-25 towards McNichols Sports Arena after practices at the University of Denver.
“It was a good time,” Roy said. “When you think back, it was funny going to and from the practice rink in your car. But I have nothing but good memories of that…the fans and my friends made sure that our eight years in Denver will never be forgotten. Colorado is and will remain a very special place for me and my family. The fans were unbelievable, (in) the support they gave to the Avalanche.”
I can’t hear what Jeremy [Roenick] says because I got my two Stanley Cup rings plugging my ears.