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Posts Tagged ‘Habs 100’

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I have worshipped at the altar of Patrick Roy.

When the tall, lanky #33, with his plain white mask took to the Canadiens crease in the magical 1986 Cup-winning season, I was sold, my favourite sporting hero was set.

Growing up, usually in every street hockey game, I played goal and imagined I was one of the Habs goalies at that time. Sometimes I was Richard Sevigny. For one exciting playoff, I was Steve Penney. Then, for a bit Rick Walmsley was my guy. I would reach back to the great Ken Dryden, but he was not playing anymore at that time and I needed a contemporary hero of Les Glorieux. Cue, Roy’s rookie season and the 1986 Stanley Cup run.

His legend is incredible and undeniable. The two cup runs with Habs and then two with Avs, three Conn Smythe trophies along the way as well, are embedded in my mind. His miscues as well are there, but you only become so great by taking great risks and Patrick did that.

My ticket from that fateful night.

My ticket from that fateful night.

My Patrick Roy story takes place Saturday, Dec. 2, 1995, at the Montreal Forum. Yes, the fateful night Roy bid adieu to the Habs after being shell-shocked by the Detroit Red Wings. You see, after years of dreaming about it, I finally got the chance to go see a Habs game at the hallowed Forum. Go figure, I finally get the chance to see my hockey hero in the flesh and it turns out to be the last game he plays in a Habs uniform.

Detroit was running circles around the Habs that night. Montreal’s defence was no where to be seen and Roy was not at his best. Montreal looked like a Junior A team against Detroit that night. The crowd was relentless that night with Roy. During the tv commercial breaks they just cursed and booed him and the Habs, but mostly him, without mercy. There I am thinking, “This is my hero. This Patrick Roy. Have you guys forgotten what he did for us?”

There was a serious distaste in the mouth of Habs fans at that time, the ugly two-headed monster of Mario Tremblay coaching and Rejean Houle at G.M had left us wanting more. In one fateful night, Habs fans turned that distaste and rage, with a team which had gone off the rails, and unleashed everything on their superstar, St. Patrick.

I will always remember Patrick making gestures to appease the crowd both during the game, after a save and during the commercial breaks. The more he did, the worse the abuse got. I would look to the bench to see if the hook was coming and it just would not come. The team deflated under the Red Wing onslaught, the boos of the crowd and their sagging superstar.

When the hook did finally come and I saw Roy skate off the ice, in a Habs uniform for the last time, I was devastated. When I saw him walk past Tremblay, and lean in to talk to Ronald Corey (to utter his fateful statement of never playing as a Hab again), you just knew things were not right.

After the game ended and we hung around the Forum, soaking in the history of the arena and talking with other Habs fans, I got lucky enough to meet Montreal great Jean Beliveau at rinkside. Imagine, meeting this legend on such a night after watching my hero get blasted. As I got Beliveau’s autograph and had a photo taken with him, we talked about the game. I asked Beliveau what he thought about the game and he said, “You cannot win them all. Patrick is a great goalie. We will get better.”

Meeting Beliveau and getting his autograph after a short chat.

Meeting Beliveau and getting his autograph after a short chat.

Well, he did get better but in Colorado and I followed as many of those saves and escapades of his as I could. He is one of the greatest ever. Brodeur may pass his numbers but the two Habs teams Roy took to Cup glory were never defensive juggernauts as the Devils. The Avs team Roy put over the top had wars against great champion-calibre Detroit Red Wing teams and, ultimately, Roy outduelled Brodeur in the one cup final they met.

His number is the 15th number to be retired by the Habs and in their 100th year, how fitting that it is. Patrick Roy will always remain #1 with me.

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The Montreal Canadiens had their 100th home opener televised on TSN and what a class ceremony and even classier treatment by TSN of the moment.

For a station based in Toronto to recognize and shower the Canadiens, Les Glorieux, in the praise and accolades they deserve was impressive to watch. Unlike CBC which does everything but have its staff wear Toronto Maple Laughs jerseys during broadcasts, the TSN crew did a bang up job.

They let the crowd cheer and holler during the opening ceremonies. They broadcast all of the Ring of Honour ceremony. They recognized the greatness of the most decorated hockey franchise on the planet. 24 cups in 100 years of existence are hard to ignore but they usually are here in  Toronto.  Before the game Gord Miller had a great interview with Guy Lafleur. During an intermission, their hockey panel answered the question: who is the greatest Canadiens goalie ever? Bob McKenzie said Jacques Plante, Keith Jones said Ken Dryden and John Tortarella said Patrick Roy.

Dave Hodge had an incredible segment in which he recognized a majority of the Habs greats via their nickname and he summed up the team’s greatness appropriately. He said the Habs may have not had the success of their past of late but they are the standard, they are the team all other teams strive to become…and it took 100 years to create that standard and class that is the Montreal Canadiens.

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