Between the Pipes

By Jason Hegler
I must say that I am somewhat surprised regarding the nature of responses my last article on the Canadian Olympic dilemma provoked. I have watched a number of interviews with Wayne Gretzky and detected a level of stress under his calm demeanor and Hollywood smile. Surely, he is looking forward to when the selection process is finally over and he can pass off this carefully chosen team to a coaching staff that will further shape and test this squad. Once this occurs, he will be able to become a fan again along with millions of other Canadians. In response to the last commentary, many of you debated over who should and should not be selected. One name in particular stood out from the rest…..this being Patrick Roy. This is especially interesting given the events of the past week and warrants further discussion.

Recently, star goaltender and future Hall of Famer Patrick Roy announced that he would not be attending the upcoming Olympics in Salt Lake City. Roy is staying “true to form” by avoiding media and being reclusive. Although documented reasons for his decision have not come forth, many speculate that he is not willing to fight for a job or play second fiddle to another netminder. Consequently, there have been mixed reactions from the general public.
Some individuals may actually be relieved by this news.

There are those of us who feel that Patty may be too old and that his career is winding down. Others feel that he has been fortunate to play on elite teams and that his numbers do not accurately represent his level of talent. Supporters of Cujo and Brodeur surely feel liberated while young goalies like Luongo recognize an enhanced opportunity. On the flip side, fans of Roy must be extremely disappointed as this would have been their last opportunity to watch him participate in the Olympics. Regardless, it was his decision to sit this one out and one must think he had good reasons.

With almost one third of the season gone, Colorado has yet to display its Stanley cup form of a year ago. With the loss of Bourque, Klemm and others the team has struggled. However, Roy’s numbers are still very impressive as he sports a 1.85 goals against which is complemented by a .930 save percentage. Compare this to Cujo who’s earned a 2.10 goals against with a .913 save percentage. Colorado is a .500 team right now because they have failed to score goals. Perhaps Roy envisions a difficult season ahead in which he will be heavily relied upon. Maybe he is experiencing some sort of nagging injury that he does not wish to reveal. Conceivably, he could have personal or relationship difficulties or maybe he just wants to take the time to rest and be with family. One thing is for certain; after what this man has brought to the table for almost two decades he deserves to be respected. After all, this is not a military draft where your chosen and obligated to participate. Roy knew he could go and even though his role was not defined he made a choice. He has this right.

Patrick Roy has a responsibility to himself, his teammates and Colorado in general. To question his dedication and patriotism is unjust and unwarranted. He has excelled in every aspect of his game and widely regarded as one of the fiercest competitors in hockey. The guy is running out of fingers for all of his rings. Sure, he has played on great teams; however, part of the reason these teams shone was because Patrick Roy was between the pipes. Love him or hate him, one must respect Roy for his success and innovation while acknowledging what he has done for the goaltending position and hockey in general. This man obviously has his reasons for not competing so lets accept them and move on.