It almost happened, says the newest Hall of Famer. That was his understanding after asking the Montreal Canadiens for a trade in December 1995. “At the time it was clear to me that they were trading me to Detroit, Toronto, Chicago or Colorado,” Roy revealed Monday on the day of his induction.
Former Detroit coach Scotty Bowman confirmed the Wings were contacted by then-Montreal GM Rejean Houle.
“Yes, he called us, I was handling trades at the time for Detroit,” said Bowman, in town Monday for the Hall of Fame festivities. “But we had just got (goalie) Mike Vernon a year or two before from Calgary. I didn’t think I could make a trade with them. But I figured maybe I could get the price up. We didn’t do it. They moved him pretty quick.
“I knew he’d be going somewhere but I was just hoping it wouldn’t be Colorado.”
On the other hand, Cliff Fletcher, the Maple Leafs GM at the time, has no memory of any trade talks involving Roy.
“Honestly I don’t ever recollect talking to Montreal about Patrick,” Fletcher said before the ceremony.
Felix Potvin was the starting goalie in Toronto at the time while Chicago had star netminder Ed Belfour.
In the end, Roy was dealt to the Avalanche along with winger Mike Keane in exchange for forwards Andrei Kovalenko and Martin Rucinsky and goalie Jocelyn Thibault.
“I think Montreal did me a favour as well, allowing me to go to a team that I felt could win the Stanley Cup,” said Roy. “They knew what I wanted.”
Roy won a Cup with the Avs six months later.
“Had we known they were going to dump him in Colorado we might have started a bidding war to avoid that,” said senior Wings executive Jimmy Devellano, who handled GM duties with coach Bowman in those years.
“Scotty and I were really upset about him going to Colorado,” added Devellano, also attending the Hall of Fame ceremony Monday. “I wish we had never lit him up that night and that he’d remained in Montreal.”
The Wings put nine goals behind Roy on Dec. 2, 1995, en route to a 12-1 rout. An angry Roy, before a national television audience, stared down coach Mario Tremblay before going up to team president Ronald Corey and telling him he’d played his last game as a Hab.
He was dealt four days later.
“Of course I would have liked to leave Montreal under different circumstances,” Roy told reporters in French on Monday. “But now looking back, I know I had great years with the Canadiens. I think we brought joy to Habs fans and even probably surprised them somewhat with the two Cups we won (in 1986 and ’93). That’s what I want people in Montreal to remember.”
Roy officially entered the Hall on Monday along with Original Six forward Dick Duff in the player category. Calgary Flames part-owner Harley Hotchkiss and the late Herb Brooks were also inducted in the builders’ category.
Next year’s class could be loaded. Mark Messier, Igor Larionov, Scott Stevens, Ron Francis and Al MacInnis are all eligible although rules only permit four at the most. Steve Yzerman and Brett Hull are eligible in 2008.
And Doug Gilmour, Pavel Bure, Glenn Anderson and Dino Cicarelli have yet to get in.
But the 41-year-old Roy was a no-brainer in his first year of eligibility after amassing 551 regular-season wins and 151 playoff victories – both NHL records, as well as three Conn Smythe Trophies (1986, ’93, ’96) as playoff MVP and three Vezina Trophies as the NHL’s top goalie (1989, ’90, ’92).
The four-time Stanley Cup champion is now only missing one honour to cap off his 18-year NHL career.
His No. 33 still isn’t hanging from the rafters at the Bell Centre in Montreal. This season former Montreal greats Ken Dryden and Serge Savard will have their numbers retired by the Habs.
“That’s up to the Canadiens to decide,” said Roy. “I think they’re doing things the right way right now. It’s normal that guys like Dryden and Savard are going up this season. And the rumour seems to indicate Larry Robinson will be next. It’s the right way to proceed. It’s their turn to see their jersey retired.
“If one day (owner) Mr. Gillett or (team president) Mr. Boivin call me to tell me my jersey is going up, obviously I’ll be flattered.”
But you can forget seeing Roy work for the Canadiens any time soon. He’s happy coaching and managing his Quebec Remparts junior club.
“I doubt I’ll find myself with the Canadiens one day although I’m not saying for sure that won’t happen,” Roy said. “Right now that organization is in great hands with a super head coach and an excellent GM. Guy Carbonneau and Bob Gainey are doing a phenomenal job and will be there for many years.
“And I like my work in junior, I feel like it’s my place. There’s a lot of coaches in junior that dream of making a career in the NHL way more than me.
“I lived the NHL life and today I’m happy in junior.”
If there’s something missing on Roy’s shiny pedigree, it’s his lack of an international presence. He never played in the old Canada Cups or IIHF world championships.
His one and only international tournament was the ’98 Nagano Olympics and he came back without a medal although he was strong for Team Canada before losing a goalie dual to Dominik Hasek and the Czech Republic in the semifinals.
“My career was not about international events, it was about playing in the NHL,” said Roy. “That was my dream and that’s what I wanted. Certainly I would have liked to have seen us win in Nagano but I have no regrets. I went there and played hard and did what I could. But of course I would have like to win.”