Patrick Roy’s passion now placed in junior hockey (Part 1)

By Simon Richard

On May 28th, 2003, though he had played over 60 games in the previous season, ranked fourth among goalies for games won and second for GAA, and was only 37 years of age, Patrick Roy announced he was retiring as an NHL player. In doing so, he let go $8.5 million, his contract for the following season. Roy has found a second career in ownership and management of junior hockey with the QMJHL Quebec Remparts. He recently spoke to Hockey’s Future about his new passion at the Quebec Pepsi Colisee.

Co-owner and vice-president of hockey operations

The NHL 11-time All-Star recalled, “When I was a kid, I used to come to the Colisee and watch Quebec Remparts games. Unfortunately, the Remparts left QMJHL in 1985 and there was no junior major hockey in the Quebec area until Beauport Harfangs were introduced in 1990. One day, while talking with Jacques Tanguay [well-known Quebec businessman and friend], I said that I was dreaming to help the Quebec Remparts be revived. Tanguay, who probably knew something about Beauport financial difficulties, said that one never knows what could happen. One year later, the Harfangs were indeed offered on the market. I received a call and was very happy. Truly.

“At that time, I thought that being a co-owner could eventually give me the chance to get involved in the junior hockey operation. I wasn’t convinced this was precisely what I would like to do, but I thought it could be an opportunity once my career would be over.”

His interest grew and grew. The Remparts team services director Nicole Bouchard said, “During the 2002-03 season, Patrick asked that every videotape of the Remparts games be sent to him in Colorado.”

That year, the Colorado Avalanche lost in the first round of the playoffs to the stunning Minnesota Wild. That gave Roy an unplanned opportunity to attend the Memorial Cup final held in Quebec City. Before leaving Denver, the man who had broken several longstanding NHL records said publicly that his decision about his future had not yet been made.

The four-time Stanley Cup winner surprised observers by making appearances, giving advice to the Remparts goalies. The former fierce competitor on ice was also seen having an argument about an on-ice incident with some CHL authorities while watching a game.

His decision was made in the process. A few days later, he confirmed he had decided to leave the NHL and get involved in both junior hockey and his community. Roy became Quebec Remparts vice-president of hockey operations and team’s general manager.

Creating the favorable atmosphere for winning

Roy firmly believes a favorable atmosphere must be created in order to have success. “I’m now retired, but for 18 years, I lived moments of great intensity in the NHL. I want to be assured that people surrounding me experience pleasure at work.”

In order to make a clear link with the tradition of winners and to play on emotions, Roy installed, both in the office and in the players’ dressing room, symbols of success and honor.

The members of his staff and occasional players who enter his office are inspired by many objects the superstar has placed around, like a painting of himself wearing the Montreal Canadians jersey with the Stanley Cup hanged in his outstretched arms, a picture with teammate and friend Ray Bourque with the Stanley Cup won by Colorado Avalanche and a sculpture, given by the Avalanche for having broken an old Terry Sawchuk record, representing himself in a classical goalie move.

On the request of Roy, the players’ dressing room has been modeled according to the pattern of the Avalanche one. The logo of the Quebec Remparts has been placed in the middle of the room and it is strictly forbidden to walk on it. On the walls, there are plaques from all previous Quebec Remparts editions with their team’s logo. There is also a list of merit of every trophy won along the years by the Remparts.

Quebec Remparts players can appreciate such facilities in their dressing room. They have no cause to be jealous of professional ones. The facilities include a sauna, a whirlpool, a physiotherapy bath, massotherapy facilities, large TV screens and video technology that can facilitate easy use of replays.

The Remparts GM was also involved in the decision to bring back on the team’s jersey the old “R” referring to the glory past of the team when Guy Lafleur, Jacques Richard and others contributed to win the Memorial Cup.

“He not only has great ideas, but he also has the means to realize it,” said the team’s chief scout Denys Faucher.

Education important

Only a small percent of CHL players will eventually get drafted by the NHL teams. Of those who make that step, 55 percent will never play a game in the NHL.

Patrick Roy is well aware that very few CHL players eventually succeed to make a career in the NHL. Therefore, he believes strongly that the young men must carry on with their studies while playing junior hockey.

“One hundred percent of Quebec Remparts players are studying,” proudly commented Nicole Bouchard. “On the request of Patrick, we hired a full-time tutor and every day of the week, while not on the road, the players must study in the Colisee with the help of the tutor.”

Help for the Russians

The management is also taking care of its Russian players. Born in Moscow, Pavel Smirnov is now a full-time employee of the organization. A Calgary Flames’ second round pick in 1995, Smirnov played two seasons in the QMJHL, including the Beauport Harfangs in 1996-97. He retired from hockey after few years spent mostly in the ECHL, having suffered multiple concussions.

“As an assistant coach, I help the players on the ice during practice. I also help the Russian players on a day-to-day basis. For example, Gennady Churilov and Alexander Radulov don’t speak English and this is quite a new world for them. I help them to get adapted, doing little things like going to the bank and teach them how to work an automatic cashier,” Smirnov told HF.

“I’m also taking care they will not make the same mistakes I did when I was in the same situation,” added Smirnov with a smile.

“He is very helpful with these kids, acting like both father and brother for them,” whispered Bouchard.

Smirnov is also very effective for scouting players. He works as a scout in the Quebec area and most of all is very effective identifying the best talent available in Russia.

“Last year, I went in Siberia to scout Gennady and in Belorussia for the U-18 World Championship where I closely watched Alexander,” Smirnov recalled.

“I was with Pavel in Minsk (U-18) last April, I could appreciate how much he has credibility over there and how much he can be useful for the Remparts,” commented Denys Faucher.

Patrick Roy summarized this way his responsibilities with the Remparts, “My role is quite simple, trying to get the best junior players and build a team who has a legitimate chance to win the ultimate victory.”

Facts show that he gotten down to work.

Part 2 of this story to follow.

Simon Richard is the author of La Serie du siecle, Septembre 1972, a book about the Summit Series published in 2002.
Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.