The Montreal Canadiens have entered the quietest time on the calendar. While there is little to look forward to in the month of August, we decided to take a look back at some of the greatest players in franchise history. We wrap up our site countdown of the five best goaltenders in Canadiens history with number one, Patrick Roy.
Patrick Roy grew up in Quebec City, Quebec., so the Montreal Canadiens were his home team, but his favourite player was Rogie Vachon. Vachon was a goaltender for the Los Angeles Kings, Roy was just a kid when he first got to watch him play for the first time, and Vachon’s performance made him fall in love with the idea of being a goalie. But before he was selected by the Canadiens, St Patrick; as many call him, was dominating the junior ranks.
The Canadiens selected Roy from the QMJHL’s Granby Bison, where he had just okay statistics. The Quebec City, Quebec product played 159 games over three seasons, and he managed a 58-86-3 record. GM Serge Savard chose Roy with the 51st selection in the 1984 draft.
Roy would play his first professional season in ‘84-84 with the AHL’s Sherbrooke Canadiens. He would suit up for just one regular season game before the playoffs, mustering a 4.00 goals/against average and a .852 save percentage. The Calder Cup playoffs, however, were where the young goaltender shined brightest, he went on a 10-3-0 run and clinched the Calder Cup championship.
Fast forward to the following season (‘85-‘86), and heavily relied upon during the Canadiens’ unbelievable run to the Cup final, Roy would do his best work in the finals, earning himself the Conn Smythe, along with a Stanley Cup win in ‘86 as a rookie. Seven years later in ‘93, he won Lord Stanley for the second time and his second Conn Smythe. He had done just as Ken Dryden had done 15 years earlier, Roy helped the Canadiens to a Stanley Cup in his rookie season and playoff MVP honours.
The butterfly style had never been seen before, and Roy not only perfected it, but he opened the door for future goalie’s to employ the style in their games. If you have a look across the league, it’s a good bet that all the active goaltenders play butterfly style. Not only was Roy technically sound, his athleticism made his cross-crease saves look effortless, and he closed off his five-hole well with his paddle.
Unfortunately for Canadiens fans, Roy’s storybook beginning went on to just eight seasons with the Canadiens. During his eighth season, the Canadiens played the final game of Roy’s tenure as a Hab, a game against the Detroit Red Wings in 1995-96. Roy let in nine goals on 26 shots and was visibly heated at coach Mario Tremblay’s decision to keep him in. During the second period of the game, Tremblay pulled Roy, and he crossed the bench and notified Canadiens president Ronald Corey, that that night would be his final game in Montreal.
The Canadiens promptly suspended Roy, and he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche four days later, in a lopsided trade. Mike Keane and Roy went to the Aves, and in exchange, the Canadiens received goalie, Jocelyn Thibault, along with Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko. Roy wasted little time acclimating; as he helped the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup in ‘96, he did it again in 2000, also winning his third Conn Smythe, an NHL record for a goaltender.
Roy was the all-time leader for regular season and playoff wins when he retired. He won four Stanley Cups in total and three Conn Smythe trophies, and he also won three Vezina trophies as the league’s top goaltender. Roy is arguably the best goaltender in NHL history, and that’s why he sits atop our top-five list of best Canadiens goalies all time and second all-time in wins with 551.
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