*This continues a series that will highlight certain impact players from each of the past Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup-winning teams. This weekly series will dive into both stars and lesser-name players, and should reprise some of the glory of past champions*
There are several pillars that a franchise and its fans can fondly look back on. Each team has their own. From Ted Lindsay to Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit to Bobby Nystrom, and Denis Potvin with the Islanders of the 1980s, fans could have discussions for hours about the heroism their favorite players displayed throughout the years. The Colorado Avalanche share those same pillars.
If they didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this series familiarizing fans with the pillars, as I see them. The Avalanche have had a lot of success since moving to Colorado in 1995. Joe Sakic, Mr. Avalanche, led the charge as a lifer. First, he was a player, then worked in the front office.
One player who became a pillar for the franchise was the man in the net for the franchise’s first two Stanley Cup victories. This man needs no introduction and is arguably the greatest goaltender to ever lace up a pair of skates. I’m talking about Patrick Roy (pronounced “wah”).
Patrick Roy was drafted in the third round of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens. He played over one thousand career games in the NHL, winning 551 of those games—good for second in NHL history. Roy has a career save percentage of .910 (he saves about nine out of ten) and has sixty-six career shutouts (zero goals against). He played all or parts of his first twelve seasons in the league for Montreal, winning Stanley Cups in 1986 and 1993. Roy was known for his intensity throughout his career, and his number is retired in Montreal.
Patrick Roy was acquired by the Colorado Avalanche in 1995 after famously telling his home province Montreal Canadiens and coach Mario Tremblay he would never play for them again after allowing nine goals in one game against Detroit. The Canadiens loss was the Avalanche’s gain.
Roy was excellent during that regular season and into the stretch run to their first Stanley Cup victory. He played 22 games in the playoffs, most famously shutting out the Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup-clinching victory in game four for a series sweep.
Roy continued his dominance while wearing the Avalanche crest, winning the Conn Smythe trophy during the 2001 Stanley Cup Championship season. The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded to the most valuable player in the playoffs each season, and Roy earned it, outplaying Martin Brodeur in the Stanley Cup finals.
During his Avalanche career, Roy never won less than thirty games in a season, excluding when the Avalanche acquired him midway through the 1995-96 season.
Roy retired from playing the game in 2002-03, winning 35 games with a save percentage of .920. It sure seems like he had some years left to play well.
After his playing career ended, Roy became a coach. Initially, he coached a junior team in the Quebec Major Junior League, and his coaching road wound right back to where his playing career ended: Colorado.
He was hired as the Avalanche head coach in 2013, and coached the team for three seasons, winning the Jack Adams award for the league’s top coach in 2013-14.
Roy’s number 33 was also retired by Colorado in 2003.
Along with Joe Sakic, Roy is one of the pillars of the early version of the Colorado Avalanche. His success led to team success, which led to sustained success and the Avalanche as an organization settling for nothing less than the best. There are others who helped these men along the way, we’ll discuss them in the future, but for now, Merci Patrick, Merci!