Sometimes, people from the past find their way back into the fold at the unlikeliest moments, the paths taken after parting converging again days or months or years down the line.
In the case of Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens, it has taken decades but — if the Hall of Fame goaltender has his way — those paths may be closer than they’ve ever been since 1995.
Days after the Canadiens parted ways with Marc Bergevin, who’d served as general manager of the club for nine-and-a-half years, the team began its search for a replacement. As Roy sees it, that departure could just open the door for a reunion, too.
“Since 1993, the team has been running in circles,” Roy said on Tuesday when speaking to Le Journal de Québec. “What do they have to lose by giving me the chance to see what I can do with this club? At the same time, I understand the situation. The club is owned by Geoff Molson and he’s the one pulling the strings. It’s his team and at the end of the day I might not be the guy for him. I accept that.”
Roy’s tenure with Montreal included two Stanley Cups, cementing his place as one of the greatest goalies to ever play for the team, but his breakup with the organization is as much a part of their storied lore as any champagne-soaked celebration.
Back in 1995, playing for the 22nd time in 24 games, Roy was in net for the worst home game in franchise history, an 11-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. He allowed nine goals on 26 shots — and wasn’t pulled until the middle of the second period, at which point fans had already begun mockingly applauding whenever he made a save.
In those days, the Canadiens owners sat immediately behind the team’s bench. On that historically bad night against Detroit, as an enraged Roy headed off the ice, he told then-Canadiens president Ronald Corey it would be his last game in Montreal. Roy was suspended the next day and never played for the team again.
“I was proud to wear that jersey, to win two Stanley Cups, play in three Finals. I have a lot of respect for that organization, a lot of admiration for what’s been done in the history of the Canadiens,” Roy said. “Of course, given the number of seasons I played with the Canadiens, the success that I had with the organization, would I be interested [in the general manager position]? Clearly. But at the same time I am aware that it’s process and there are several good candidates.”
That search process largely rests on the shoulders of Jeff Gorton, who was hired to be the Canadiens’ new executive vice president of hockey operations, a role formerly filled by Bergevin.
Roy isn’t without managerial experience altogether, most recently serving as the head coach and general manager of the Quebec Ramparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Prior to that, at the NHL level, he had a three-year stint as head coach and vice president of hockey operations for the Colorado Avalanche, a run that saw him lose in the first round once and then miss the playoffs altogether the following two seasons. Roy eventually stepped down, citing a lack of input in personnel decisions.
As he sees it now, though, if he were one of Gorton’s candidates, the two would be able to work well together.
“I would be ready to work with [Gorton],” Roy said. “He seems to be a person that is passionate about hockey. I’ve always been a guy who loved working in teams.”
Whoever assumes the general manager mantle in Montreal will be tasked with turning the team’s fortunes around.
One year removed from a run to the Stanley Cup Final, the Canadiens sit 29th overall in the league’s standings, leaving some wondering if a rebuild is necessary — a possibility Molson himself acknowledged earlier this week, saying he wasn’t afraid of the word.
Roy doesn’t think one is needed.
“For me, the Canadiens, it’s more of a reset that is needed,” Roy said. “Not a rebuild.”