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  • Writer's pictureDavid Leboeuf

Patrick Roy: victory and nothing else

Updated: Apr 26

The happy addiction

Since time immemorial, billions of human beings have had to learn to live with addictions. Whether illicit or not, these visceral needs dictate every part of addicts' lives. That said, not all irrepressible, insatiable cravings are harmful. For example, four-time Stanley Cup champion and three-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner Patrick Roy enjoyed the career he's known for thanks to his addiction...

To Victory.

A Sevigny painting, commissioned by a customer, depicting the great 1993 Stanley Cup victory.

A winning mentality wherever he goes

Wherever he went, whether with the Granby Bisons at major junior level, the Sherbrooke Canadiens in the American league, the Montreal Canadiens and the Colorado Avalanche in the National Hockey League, or even the Quebec Remparts, where he held the title of head coach and general manager, and again for the Colorado Avalanche as head coach, Patrick Roy was always there to win. "Casseau" as many call him didn't want to win often. He wanted to win all the time.

On this subject, everyone agrees: the famous number 33 will accept nothing less than victory, whatever the cost. Even today, with 551 career victories to his name, he remains the third most successful goalkeeper in history.

It has to be said that, if victory is his goal, he has often achieved it.

The legend returns to the National Hockey League

The man who won the Jack Adams Trophy in 2014 while at the helm of the Colorado Avalanche, the team with which he won the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001, returned to the National Hockey League on January 20, 2024 after an eight-year absence. Against all odds, he returned to the Bettman Circuit at the helm of the New York Islanders. Although his name circulated whenever the Montreal Canadiens were looking for a coach, it was the one and only Lou Lamoriello who gave him the chance.

The effect was instantaneous.

The arrival of the team's flamboyant pilot had the effect of an electroshock. At the time the previous coach, Lane Lambert, was sacked, the Long Island-based team was in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division of the National League East Conference. That was a long way from the Cup to the lips. Since Roy took over, the Isles have won 19 of their last 36 games, securing third place in the Metropolitan Division. Now, the cleaver came down.

The New York Islanders will make the playoffs.

A superb painting by Sevigny featuring one of ice hockey's all-time greats, Patrick Roy

The rest of the story still to be written...

The first challenge will be the Carolina Hurricanes, but once the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, anything can happen. In disbelief? Talk to the 2019 St. Louis Blues, who started the year ranked 31st and went on to win the Stanley Cup. Conversely, talk to the 2023 Boston Bruins who, after having the best season in National League history, went down in the first round.

Sometimes, the difference between defeat and victory lies in the unexpected contribution of a player or goalkeeper who acts as a catalyst and manages to elevate the rest of his team. Just ask Patrick Roy. To this day, he's the only player to have won the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP three times. The only one to elude him was in 1996, when the equally legendary Joe Sakic took it when the Avalanche eliminated the Florida Panthers in the grand final.

The history of ice hockey is littered with stories of neglected teams who, against all odds, went on to win gold. And this is precisely the beauty of sport: the impossibility of predicting the outcome of a match or a series. The beauty of sport lies in those times when logic and statistics are blithely flouted.

And it's precisely for this kind of moment that I'll be assiduously following the 2024 playoffs in the NHL. I'd love to see a talented, hard-working team like the Islanders, led by a sports legend, win the title.

Which team do you think will lift the Stanley Cup when the playoffs get underway on April 20, 2024?

David Leboeuf

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