As the writer who gave Roy his nickname, St Patrick, Red Fisher followed Patrick throughout his 10-year Habs career. Writing about the jersey retirement, Fisher recounts a different side of Patrick Roy.
Controversy has been a recurring theme with Roy during his career, and yet I also have seen him when his gentleness has moved people to tears. I have told this story before, but it bears repeating because I remember it leaving me giddy with pleasure.
It happened following a Canadiens morning practice in Quebec City. There was a game to be played that night, but now only Roy remained on the ice, waiting for a 10-year-old to join him.
The boy was born to pain, and lived with it bravely. He had this dream of going one-on-one with his idol, Roy.
So there they were at the Quebec Colisée, Roy skating in little circles, sending up small shivers of ice pellets, rattling the blade of his stick on the ice before settling into a crouch in his crease, looking every inch like a guy in the moments before Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. The boy’s mother looked on nervously, watching her child who hadn’t smiled or laughed nearly often enough in his young life.
“Okay … I’m ready,” Roy finally yelled at the boy. “Show me your best.”
It took a long time for the boy, skating on his matchstick legs, to close the 15 feet separating him from Roy’s crease. A wobbly shot … a desperate lunge from Roy and … goal! Roy slammed his stick on the ice in mock anger. “Try that again,” he muttered at the boy, who by now had a reason to smile. “I’ll bet you can’t do that again.”
Another wobbly shot. Another goal.
Ten minutes of goal after goal followed – and after each one the boy would raise his stick skyward, his face lighting up with smiles that grew into a delighted laugh. His mother looked on from her Colisée seat – and cried.
“That was a nice thing you did this morning,” I told Roy later that day. “It must have been hard.”
“It was easy,” Roy said.
To read the entire Fisher article, please see http://www.faceoff.com/hockey/head2head/h2hstory.html?id=286954a7-74b1-477e-9152-c93253daa3ad&sponsor=gatorade