Local fans react to Roy’s retirement
Patrick Roy did not start the first game in the history of the Colorado Avalanche franchise in 1995.
It just seems like it.
As any true Avs fan, who bleeds maroon, white and blue, knows, Stephane Fiset got the win between the pipes in that first game against the soon-to-be-hated Detroit Red Wings by a count of 3-2.
Ironically, it was Detroit that played a key role in the Avs’ acquisition of Roy after the Red Wings blitzed the then-Habs goalie in 1995. In front of a nationally-televised broadcast on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, Roy, angered that he had been left out on the ice too long, screamed at his coach at the time, Mario Tremblay, that he would never play in net again for the Habs.
Sure enough, days later, Roy was on a plane to the Mile High City.
While the new Avs were certainly a good team at the time – Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic were well on their way to becoming stars – Roy’s arrival marked Colorado’s rise to the level of the NHL’s elite.
None of this is news to local hockey fans, who have cheered the team to Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001. And, Tuesday, upon hearing the news that Roy is retiring, locals reacted with a mixture of sadness and appreciation.
“He’s my favorite NHL goalie,” said Jon Etters, 19, who’s played the position for the Vail Junior Hockey Association and Battle Mountain since he was 10. “I personally think he’s the best goalie of all time. He has all the records. He’s the winningest goalie and has four Stanley Cups. I like his personality too. He loves the game and that’s admirable.”
Etters’ favorite memories of Roy were his tussles with Detroit goalie Chris Osgood. For Alice Plain, a member of the state champion Vail Breakaways women’s hockey team, it was Roy winning his record, third Conn Smythe Trophy in 2001, which she called, “the final feather in his cap.”
“To tell you the truth, it isn’t a huge surprise,” Plain said. “It didn’t seem like he had the energy, the dire interest last year. He did play better as the season went on. But he’s broken every record in the books. He’s ben so much fun to fun to watch. I miss seeing him playing. He was awesome.”
Plain brings up a good question – what now for the Avs in net?
“It’s going to be different watching the game without him in the picture,” said Jade Kersey, the executive director of Vail Junior Hockey and Battle Mountain hockey coach. “There are so many new superstars coming up that somebody will be there to take his place. It will be interesting to see what the Avs do with the starting-goaltending situation. (Back-up goalie David) Aebischer is not seasoned yet. It’ll be an interesting free-agent market.”
Kersey added that he thought it was a “classy move” for Roy to announce his retirement before free-agent season begins July 1, so that Avs general manager Pierre Lacroix could have his options open.
Getting back to those Red Wings, who played such an intriguing role in Roy’s career, Detroit faced a similar situation last summer when their stellar, keeper, Dominic Hasek, retired. The Wings went out and signed Curtis Joseph from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Stay tuned this summer for what the Avs do.
One local hockey fan who knows what Avs fans are going through is Vail’s Tom Korchowsky, who is, in fact, a Wings fan. Despite the bitter rivalry between the two teams, Korchowsky is sorry to see Roy go.
“He’s a good goalie. I like to see good hockey and he’s a part of good hockey,” he said. “You’ve got to respect a good goalie and he was a good goalie. That’s how I look at Patrick Roy.”
Chris Freud is the sports editor of the Vail Daily and can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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