"Every time I think about my career, I think about the four Stanley Cups," admits goaltending great Patrick Roy. "There's no doubt about it. As a kid, you play on the street, pretending you're playing for the Stanley Cup. You grab a piece of wood and lift it over your head like the Stanley Cup."
|At the age of 20, Roy captured his first of three Conn Smythe Trophies throughout his outstanding career. (Paul Bereswill/HHOF)
In 1985-86, fresh off a Calder Cup championship in the American Hockey League, the rookie NHL netminder led the Montreal Canadiens to a Stanley Cup championship. It was the first of four he'd earn during an illustrious NHL career.
Montreal hadn't been to the Stanley Cup final in six seasons, and had gone through five coaches since that time. With a rookie goalie and an unproven team, it seemed highly unlikely that the Canadiens could claim the Stanley Cup, but the hockey world hadn't yet met Patrick Roy.
"It was important to show my teammates (that I could do the job), and having a good start against Boston certainly was the key," begins Roy. The Bruins were getting a lot of shots on the Canadiens during the Division semi-final, but Patrick stood firm defending the Canadiens' goal. Montreal swept Boston in three straight games to win the best-of-five series. "That was a key moment. I was hoping it would bring some confidence to my teammates. Winning that series made us believe that we could win it (all)."
Roy outbattled Mike Liut of the Hartford Whalers in the next series, but it took an overtime goal by Claude Lemieux in Game Seven of the Division Final to eliminate the Whalers.
The Canadiens next faced the New York Rangers in the Conference Final. "The key game to me was Game Three in New York," continues Patrick. "Going into New York up two games to nothing and winning that game was so important. It was the crunch game and gave us a 3-0 lead in the series." Claude Lemieux was again the hero, scoring the winning goal in overtime to win that game. Montreal went on to roll over the Rangers four games to one.
The Stanley Cup final between the Montreal Canadiens and the Calgary Flames can almost be considered anticlimactic after the drama of previous series. The Flames captured the first game, in Calgary, by a 5-2 score, but that was as good as it got for the Alberta hockey representatives. Montreal took the second game 3-2, using a goal by Brian Skrudland nine seconds into overtime to secure the victory. Moving to Montreal, the Canadiens took Game Three by a 5-3 win, followed by a 1-0 shutout for Roy in Game Four. Back at the Calgary Saddledome, the Montreal Canadiens collected the Stanley Cup with a 4-3 win on May 24, 1986.
During the regular season, Patrick had recorded a solid 3.35 goals-against average, but taking his play to an unsurpassed level in the playoffs, the confident rookie netminder maintained a goals-against average of 1.92 and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable performer in the playoffs.
The Stanley Cup championship earned as a rookie put Roy into some elite company: only Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden had earned Stanley Cup championships for Montreal as first-year goaltenders.
"It was a very special moment," smiles Patrick Roy.
Kevin Shea is the Hockey Hall of Fame's Editor of Publications and Online Features.