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Regrets get left behind

Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2003

DENVER Patrick Roy's piercing blue eyes gave no hint of the emotional moment. While those around him choked back tears and had trouble speaking, Roy barely blinked.

One of the greatest goalies in NHL history had been preparing for this moment for nearly a year.

''I feel great about my decision,'' Roy said Wednesday after announcing his retirement. ''I really feel like I emptied the tank and I'm ready to move on. I step aside with no regrets.''

Roy is just two years removed from his best regular season and is still considered one of the league's premier goalies at 37, but he figured it would be better to go out on top rather than tarnish his image.

''It's always been important for me to play with consistency, but also leave on my own terms,'' said Roy, who made the decision to retire before this season. ''I think I've accomplished everything I wanted and I think I've done basically what I think I should.''

It's hard to imagine doing much more. Roy won four Stanley Cup titles two each with Colorado and Montreal and holds nearly every major goaltending record. He is the only three-time winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the MVP of the playoffs, and is the league's career leader in wins and games played.

Roy also has the most playoff wins, games and shutouts, and he helped popularize the butterfly style of goaltending by dropping to his knees to stop shots.

''You always knew you would have a chance to win with Patrick in net,'' said Mike Keane, who played with Roy in Colorado and Montreal.

Roy announced his retirement at a news conference attended by his wife and three children, Avalanche coach Tony Granato, and teammates Keane, Joe Sakic and Brad Larsen.

The biggest sports news in Denver since John Elway retired three years ago was carried live on several local television stations and in Montreal, where Roy spent the first 11 years of his career.

With a large mural of him as a backdrop and a cutout of his figure in front of a goal on the side, Roy reflected on a career that began with a 6-year-old kid stopping shots in the upstairs of his parents' house with pillows strapped to his legs.

''I've had a blast. It's been unbelievable. I've been so fortunate to have lived a dream and have fun for more than 18 years earning a living by playing a game I love,'' said Roy, who alternately spoke in English and French for part of the news conference.

Those around him had a little more trouble accepting that Roy had left the crease for the last time.

His wife, Michele, got teary-eyed on several occasions, and Avalanche general manager Pierre Lacroix choked back tears as he talked about his relationship with Roy.

''I was fortunate to share a lot of experiences with Patrick and his family,'' said Lacroix, who was Roy's agent before bringing him to Denver in 1995 in a trade with Montreal.

''Every hockey fan in Colorado and throughout the world will always remember your remarkable accomplishments,'' Lacroix said as he turned to Roy.

Roy said his only emotional time came the morning after Colorado's Game 7 loss to Minnesota in the first round of this year's playoffs, a game in which he gave up the winning goal to Andrew Brunette in overtime.

''That morning when I got up, I had tears in my eyes thinking that could be the last game,'' Roy said. ''But from there I really felt good about everything.''

Roy has been bothered by arthritic hips and has lost some of his mobility, but said his health had no bearing on the decision.

''This year was probably the best year,'' Roy said of his health. ''Injury was not even a factor in my decision.''

Roy said he's open to serving in a management role with an NHL team, but his immediate plans are to move back to Quebec and work with the junior team he owns. He also wants to spend time following the career of his son, Jonathan, who will begin playing at a prep school in Saskatchewan in the fall.

Lacroix said the Avalanche will retire Roy's No. 33 jersey during a game next season. It will hang next to Ray Bourque's No. 77, the only other Avalanche jersey to be retired since the team moved to Colorado in 1995.



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