Patrick Roy set many records during his playing days in the National Hockey League, and it did not take him long break one once he got behind an NHL bench, (along with a pane of glass as well.)
Everyone has heard Patrick’s story, he was drafted in the third round of the NHL draft in 1984, but would become the best goaltender in the rich history of the Montreal Canadiens. Roy stormed onto the hockey scene when he led the Canadiens to the 1986 Stanley Cup at just twenty years of age. He won the first of his record setting three Conn Smythe Trophies as Playoff MVP that year.
When Roy retired in 2003, his 551 career wins were the most ever by an NHL goaltender, 67 ahead of second place Ed Belfour. Martin Brodeur has since passed Roy, pushing him into second most all time, but Roy has 200 more wins than the next active goaltender. Roberto Luongo currently has 351 victories, so Roy is very comfortable as the second winningest goaltender in regular season history.
Where Roy really left his mark was when goaltenders are under the microscope more than usual, in the postseason. His 151 career playoff wins is a record that is likely to never be broken. Even Martin Brodeur, who has been to the Stanley Cup Finals five times as a member of some excellent New Jersey Devils teams, has only 113 at the age of 41. Brodeur would need to lead the Devils to back to back championships, just to get within six victories of Roy’s playoff record.
The next most playoff wins by an active goaltender is Marc Andre Fleury, who needs 106 to catch Saint Patrick, and Fleury has been removed as starter in his past two postseason appearances. Behind Fleury are two forty year olds in Evgeni Nabokov and Nikolai Khabibulin who may never win another playoff game in their careers.
151 playoff victories is such an astonishing number, that over Roy’s 19 year NHL career, he averaged 8 playoff wins per year, which is enough to make the NHL’s Conference Finals. So, if you were playing on a team with Roy as your goaltender, making the final four was an average season.
Roy’s postseason career is so impressive, that any conversation about the most clutch goaltenders of all time, immediately brings him into the conversation. In fact, if you had to pick a goaltender from any era for a game seven, the only argument should be between the 20 year old Roy who won the Conn Smythe for the Canadiens, or the 35 year old Roy who won the same trophy for the Avalanche in 2001.
So Roy had plenty of records as an NHL goaltender, and six games into his coaching career with Colorado, he has another one. Patrick is yet to suffer a loss as a Head Coach, and his six straight victories tie Mario Tremblay as the most consecutive wins to start an NHL coaching career. Does that name sound familiar? Yes, Tremblay set the record in 1995 when he was coaching the Montreal Canadiens, and a fellow by the name of Patrick Roy was his goaltender in all six of those games.
That was of course the year that Tremblay infamously left Roy in net for nine goals in a game against the Detroit Red Wings, and Roy told management he would never play for them again. He didn’t. He went on to the Colorado Avalanche and won two more Stanley Cups to add to his titles in 1986 and 1993 with Montreal.
Patrick will face his former nemesis, the Detroit Red Wings tonight, as he attempts to earn the best start to a coaching career ever. The same team that chased him out of Montreal, and became his biggest rival while he was with the Colorado Avalanche. In his first seven years as an Avalanche, he faced the Red Wings in the playoffs five times, and in those seven years, it would be one of Colorado or Detroit representing the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals on five occasions.
Roy’s relationship with the Canadiens organization had clearly soured when he demanded they send him out of town. However, he was welcomed back in November of 2008, when his jersey and number 33 were retired to the rafters of the Bell Center. His name around the city of Montreal is now spoken in much better terms than the man who ultimately orchestrated his exit, the same man whose record he is trying to break tonight, Mario Tremblay.
If asked, I am sure Roy would shake off any suggestion he wants to break Tremblay’s record. However, this is an ultimate historian, statistician and hockey guy who would like nothing more than to one up the man he blames for ending his career in his home province.
Roy once exploded at Marc Crawford, his coach with the Avalanche, for taking him out of a game in favor of backup Craig Billington, just to stall for time at the start of a power play. Crawford viewed it as a way to buy an extra timeout for the team, but Roy was closing in on the all time wins record, and was extremely upset that Billington could be in net when the game winner was scored, which would take the win away from Patrick.
So, to think Roy does not see the irony in the achievement he could receive tonight is preposterous.
It has been an extremely successful start to Roy’s coaching career, and his former team is certainly cheering for him to break the record set by one of their own.
If he does not, we can only hope the glass in Pepsi Center is ready to accept the consequences.