Patrick Roy was the NHL's all-time winningest goaltender when he retired in 2003 at age 37. He did it on his terms, never stepping back into a co-No. 1 or backup role, though he posted the lowest goals-against averages of his career in his final two seasons with the Avalanche.
As a part owner of his hometown Quebec Remparts in major junior hockey, Roy also had another career waiting for him, and he immediately stepped into the general manager's job upon retirement. (He added head coaching duties in 2005).
New Jersey's Martin Brodeur, who as the son of the Canadiens' team photographer saw Roy up close and idolized him as a youth, would break Roy's career wins record with his 552nd in March 2009.
Nearly five years later, at age 41, Brodeur is still with the Devils, who will face the Roy-coached Avalanche on Thursday night at the Pepsi Center. Brodeur is sharing the Devils' goaltending duties with Cory Schneider and is coming off an emotional game Tuesday night, when he made 29 saves in New Jersey's 4-1 victory over the Canadiens in what could have been his final NHL appearance in his Montreal hometown. Even if Brodeur doesn't play Thursday, the NHL's top two victory leaders of all time will be in the building. The win at Montreal gave Brodeur 682 career victories.
“I admire what he does,” Roy said of Brodeur. “It's amazing what he's been doing, and I certainly can appreciate what he's going through. Right now, he's sharing the net with Schneider. But the relationship he has with (Devils president and general manager) Lou Lamoriello seems to me to be very special. There's a lot of respect between those two men. He's been loyal to this team (New Jersey), and this team has been loyal to him. I think that's what's carrying (him) on right now.
“He still plays some great games...He's been a great goalie in our league, he's probably been one of the best, without a doubt.”
Did Roy ever regret retiring at 37?
“No, it was different,” Roy said. “My personality is a lot different than his. I'm not saying he is not taking the game seriously. He has probably a better approach than I had. After losses, I took it tough. I took it almost personal. Marty takes it more like, 'Hey, let's go back tomorrow.' I think that helps to have a longer career, without a doubt.”
But as a coach, Roy has emphasized a game-at-a-time, turn-the-page approach. In that sense, isn't he different as a coach from he was as a player?
“Maybe I am,” said Roy. “But inside, I always want to win. Winning is not everything, it's the only thing. That matters to me. But at the same time, I understand our players are coming in and working hard, and that's the thing that we control. I'm pleased with what I have seen so far.”
Roy and Brodeur, of course, were opposing goalies in the most notable game in any sport played in the Pepsi Center. That was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2001, when the Avalanche — behind two goals from Alex Tanguay, now in his second stint with Colorado — beat the Devils, 3-1. Roy had 25 saves as the Avs earned their second NHL championship, leading to Ray Bourque's hoisting of the most famous trophy in professional sports.