Already 25 years! This is my first reaction when I think of Patrick Roy’s exchange. Time took over the event. This is how we see life over the years.
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I was attached to the coverage of the Canadiens in 1995. At the time, journalists spent a lot of time with the players. We traveled with them. We had the pulse of the team.
The days and months after Roy left were hellish. I understand the main players in this saga for not wanting to talk about it anymore. Their lives have been turned upside down.
I didn’t really want to go back to the subject myself.
What has not been said?
Insufficient currency of exchange
The emotion passed, we learn to put things in perspective. Yes, this transaction was the worst in the history of the Canadiens. Réjean Houle might have limited the damage if he had obtained a star player in the trade. A player of the caliber of Owen Nolan that Serge Savard wanted to obtain, along with Stéphane Fiset, before Ronald Corey showed him the exit.
Yes, the file was mismanaged. Réjean jumped on Pierre Lacroix’s first offer. He was fond of Jocelyn Thibault, whom he saw as Patrick’s dolphin. But Roy’s leggings were too heavy for Thibault to carry.
The criticism that can be made against Houle is for not having raised the stakes. Scotty Bowman wanted Patrick with the Detroit Red Wings. He told everyone that the proposal submitted by his team was superior to that of the Avalanche.
A problem case for Savard
That said, Roy was destined to leave even before the fateful evening of December 2, 1995. Power had not passed between him and the organization for some time.
Here is what Serge Savard says in his biography about the talks he had with Lacroix: “Patrick was made too important in the club. He was leading too wide in the locker room. In previous years, I had had to manage it with white gloves. I had the same admiration for him as when we won the Stanley Cup in 1986 and 1993, where his role was decisive. But a change had become necessary. The team revolved around him too much. For the good of all, he had to change his mind. “
Gamers don’t whisper that sort of thing to journalists. On the other hand, I knew very well that Patrick no longer really liked the Habs. He had told me things under cover of confidence. He did not like what he had seen since the conquest of 1993. He felt that the organization had branched out. He saw a slack in expectations.
A bad start
The hiring of Réjean Houle and Mario Tremblay was not serious in his eyes. We saw it in their first game when he pitched after a last second victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs that he had gone to take a cold shower to see if he was wide awake, when he had heard of the arrival. duo Houle-Tremblay after their pre-game nap.
It started badly!
For his part, Mario could not imagine that a player could benefit from a particular status in a team. When he was playing, no player enjoyed any favors from the Canadiens. Guy Lafleur, Ken Dryden, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard and the other big stars of the team were treated the same as support players. Scotty Bowman wouldn’t have allowed it otherwise.
Jean Perron and Pat Burns, the first two coaches to have coached Roy at the Habs, saw him like their other players.
Things have changed with Jacques Demers. Having worked for a long time in the United States, Jacques had met renowned coaches who pampered their star players.
When he was manager of the Detroit Tigers, Sparky Anderson told him how he handled his ace pitcher Jack Morris. Jacques also knew how San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh handled it with his famous quarterback Joe Montana.
For him, it was normal that Patrick Roy should be entitled to treatment commensurate with the role he played with the Canadian. He would sit down with him to schedule his games.
However, there was no question for Mario to continue this practice. In his mind, he was paid to direct and Patrick to perform.
I always wondered what would have happened if Ronald Corey hadn’t been sitting behind the Canadiens bench that night. But probably it was Tremblay that Roy would have announced that he had just played his last game with the team.
Who is guilty in the end?
Ronald Corey for hiring two men with no previous experience as general manager and head coach. Réjean Houle for having reacted too quickly. Mario Tremblay for leaving Patrick Roy too long in front of the net and Patrick Roy for losing control of his emotions.
The biggest drama was to see another great Canadian player leave in turmoil.