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St. Patrick's day finally comes

Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2003

DENVER Colorado's Patrick Roy is retiring, ending the 18-year career of one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history.

Roy will make the announcement at a news conference on Wednesday, team spokesman Jean Martineau said.

A four-time Stanley Cup champion, Roy leaves as the NHL's career leader in victories with 551 and games played with 1,029. He also is the all-time leader in playoff victories, games played and shutouts.

Roy is still considered one of the best goalies in the game at age 37, but he has been bothered by arthritic hips the past few years. He also has made it clear he wants to follow the career of his oldest son, Jonathan, a goalie who will start playing in Saskatchewan this fall.

''It's going to be sad for hockey,'' Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere said Tuesday. ''He's a great goaltender, probably the best that's ever played.''

Roy won two Stanley Cups each with Montreal and Colorado, and is the only three-time winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the MVP of the playoffs. Earlier this season he became the first goalie to eclipse 60,000 minutes.

''If indeed Patrick Roy is going to retire, we wish him well,'' NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. ''We will miss him.''

Before Roy broke into the league with Montreal in 1985, most goalies either stayed on their feet or stacked their pads to stop shots.

Glenn Hall and Tony Esposito, two goaltenders who starred in the 1960s and 1970s, helped develop the butterfly style of dropping to their knees to stop shots. Roy made the style popular during his record-setting career.

Roy is the NHL's all-time leader with 23 career playoff shutouts, and his 247 games and 151 wins are well ahead of Grant Fuhr, who is second with 150 games and 92 wins.

''He basically has done everything and broke every record, so I think it's pretty safe to say he's the greatest goalie who ever played,'' Colorado's Mike Keane said recently.

Roy had his best regular season in 2001-02, with a 1.94 goals-against average and a career-high nine shutouts, but the playoffs ended in disappointment after he allowed six goals in a 7-0 loss to Detroit in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.

Roy struggled early this season, but was unbeaten in 26 of his final 30 starts. He helped the Avalanche move past Vancouver and win the Northwest Division title. He finished fourth in the league with 35 wins and had a 2.18 goals-against average.

Roy was solid in the first four games of Colorado's first-round playoff series against Minnesota, but gave up soft goals in Games 6 and 7 as the Wild became just the seventh team in league history to come back from a 3-1 deficit with two road wins.

Roy said at the time that he was 90 percent sure of his plans for the future, but did not reveal which way he was leaning. He appeared to be readying himself for retirement over the past year, when he bought a home in Jupiter, Fla., and put his house in Denver up for sale.

Roy's retirement plans were first reported by the Daily Camera of Boulder on Tuesday.

''The day that I feel that I'm going to lose that desire and that passion, that would be a good time for me to leave,'' Roy said in January. ''The tough part is that it could happen at any time. It could happen in the middle of the season, it could happen at the end of the season. And if it's time to go, it's time to go.''

Like so many kids in Quebec City, Quebec, Roy spent most Saturday nights watching hockey on television. He became a goalie because he liked the way the equipment looked and honed his game by stopping shots upstairs in his parents' house with pillows strapped to his legs.

Roy became so enthralled with the game that he slept every night with a stick given to him by his hero, Daniel Bouchard.

Roy had an immediate impact in the NHL, leading Montreal to the Stanley Cup title in 1986 as the youngest Conn Smythe winner at age 20. He played nine more seasons with the Canadiens, winning another Cup in 1993, but was traded to Colorado in 1995 shortly after coach Mario Tremblay left him too long in a lopsided loss.

It proved to be the best move the Avalanche ever made.

In Roy's nine seasons in Denver, Colorado won two Stanley Cup titles, reached the Western Conference finals six times and set an NHL record with nine straight division titles.

Colorado won its first Stanley Cup in 1996, when Roy had three shutouts and a 2.10 goals-against average. The second came in 2001, when he had four shutouts and a 1.70 GAA, and was named playoff MVP.



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