In our first edition of Colorado Avalanche Throwback Thursday, we take a look at the day the Colorado Avalanche traded for goaltender Patrick Roy and solidified themselves as an elite team in the NHL.
When Pierre Lacroix went from player agent to general manager of the Quebec Nordiques, one of the first things he tried to do was acquire former client and friend Patrick Roy from the Montreal Canadiens. Even though rumors were circulating about Roy’s departure from Montreal, the Canadiens weren’t too keen on trading him to a division rival. When the Nordiques moved to Colorado and became the Avalanche, Lacroix continued his pursuit and caught a break on December 2, 1995.
Starting against the Detroit Red Wings on that night, Roy gave up nine goals on 26 shots. When he was finally pulled in the second period, he had some choice words for Montreal head coach Mario Tremblay and team president Ronald Corey. The most memorable phrase being, “It’s my last game in Montreal.” Four days later, Lacroix struck on the tension between Roy and Montreal and dealt for the two-time Stanley Cup winner.
The official trade saw the Avalanche receive Roy along with Mike Keane in exchange for Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky, and Andrei Kovalenko. Lacroix was immediately praised for the deal and the Avalanche went from a very good team with a lot of talent to an elite team with talent and winners.
Roy didn’t exactly get off to a hot start in Colorado though. In his first game in an Avalanche uniform, he allowed four goals on 30 shots in a loss. In fact, Roy lost three of his first four games, allowing 12 goals in those games. Once Roy finally settled into his new city and got adjusted to his new team; the rest is history. Roy helped backstop the Avalanche to their first Stanley Cup in 1996, posting a 2.10 GAA and winning 16 games in 22 starts. In the following seven years, Roy never won less than 30 games and added another Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophy to his resume in 2001 before retiring in following the 2003 season. Roy returned to the Avalanche in 2013 as the head coach, leading them to a Central Division title in his first season behind the bench.
The acquisition of Patrick Roy set up the Avalanche franchise as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender for years to come. A new team in a new city needed to make a big splash and there was no bigger splash than trading for an elite goaltender who still had plenty of great years left in him. It also set the Montreal Canadiens franchise back, as Thibault, Rucinsky, and Kovalenko never made a significant impact with the organization and, with the exception of a couple of good years from Jose Theodore, never found a suitable replacement for Roy until Carey Price solidified himself in 2010-2011.