Guest Writer Has His Say About Roy’s Sweater Being Raised

A guest writer delves into the ‘Patrick Roy’s sweater being retired’ saga. 


Take it away, Jim.


“Pro sports are sexy for a variety of reasons, but perhaps their most attractive quality is that they are so readily apprehended. Things are pretty straightforward, excluding the usual geeky obsession with stats – God bless The Schwab, a brilliant trivia geek, but frankly I have to agree with Noam Chomsky here when he says in effect that the brains of such people could be put to much better use.


A simple concept that I’m interested in touching on here is that of the relationship between team and player and championships. In all team sports, WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS is the ultimate goal, the ultimate measure not only of the team but of the individual player. Aguably, winning the Stanley Cup is the most demanding, most arduous, most difficult championship to capture, and being a member of a Stanley Cup championship team is the crown glory of any player. This simple fact is born out by the players themselves who to a man agree that they would trade any number of individual achievements, any amount of accolades just to win one cup – to my knowledge, no player has yet declared they preferred being a star to winning a cup.


In this respect, Lanny McDonald and Dave Andreychuk spring immediately to mind.


Are individual stats relevant?


Of course they are. For example, Marcel Dionne and Mike Gartner were great players and derserved to be in the Hall of Fame even though they did not win any cups. Conversely, many players such as Mario Tremblay and Rejean Houle, who won several cups with the Habs, do not, in my mind, belong in the Hall.


In other words, membership in the Hall is very much a function of individual accomplishments in the game, although inductees who have won cups are, I believe, a cut above those who did not – the single most significant yardstick for measuring the greatness of a player is how many cups he has won. Period.


However, being inducted into the Hall is not the same as having one’s sweater retired by le Canadien. The Habs are not only the greatest team of all time, they are one of the greatest sports teams of all time. What this means is quite simply that the standards and expectations that apply to other teams and their players are not applicable to the Habs.


My point re Roy? Winning a mere two cups hardly qualifies Patrick Roy to be placed in the company of greats such as Beliveau, the Richards, Cournoyer, Plante, Lafleur, – who each has great stats as well as multiple cups. Note that they are all Hall Of Famers, unlike Houle and Tremblay. And the argument that Roy single-handedly won the two cups and therefore merits special treatment not only flies in the face of the win-as-a-team/lose-as-a-team maxim but it is insulting to the great players on those cup teams – look ’em up!


It’s a cliche, which doesn’t mean it isn’t so, to say that teams only go as deep into the playoffs as their goalies take them. Of course goalies are crucial components on any cup-winning team, but this sure doesn’t lead to the conclusion that all cup-winning goalies should have their sweaters retired. But if we assume that Roy did literally win the cup by himself, then, applying the same logic, it’s reasonable to to assume that he therefore lost many more cups than he won. Hey, isn’t Price getting heat for ‘losing’ to the Flyers? Never mind the goalposts and poor shooting of the rest of the team. Hmmm, makes Roy a big choker rather than a big hero, n’est-ce pas?


Put him in the Hall, sure. Roy was a good goalie and he did have an impact on the game. But he definitely did NOT accomplish enough as a Canadien to warrant having his sweater retired. It’s a cynical marketing play that diverts attention from the fact that we have not won a cup in 15 years! And please, spare me the bs about the modern game and parity.  The Wings have won 3 in 11 years and could easily have won more and we’re supposed to be happy to make the playoffs. What a shameful betrayal of all the great Hab players and builders who triumphed regardless of the era in which they played. Hell, mug shots of Sammy Pollock and Scotty Bowman belong up there, not Roy’s sweater.


In Habland, cups first and persoanl stats a distant second – gotta luv Gainey and Harvey and Robinson and Savard, eh? And yes, the criteria that qualify a player of Hall of Fame induction do apply. As well, intangible considerations other than cup wins are also relevant.: leadership (suck it up, dig down, and play even better), charisma (Morenz, Richard, Beliveau, Lafleur), grit and determination (not a quitter among the sweaters up there now), loyalty (Roy? hmm..), et al.


Re Morenz, okay, I’ll be arbitrary here and say 3 cups is the minimum necessary to qualify to even be considered for having one’s sweater retired. I’ll also point out that Morenz, aka the Statford Streak, was called the Babe Ruth of hockey and as such he transcended the sport in much the same way Ruth did baseball, something that Patrick can not lay claim to. Morenz was a star whose brilliance far exceeded that of Roy. Also, unlike Roy, Morenz did not quit the Habs in the throes of a hissy fit over a chilish spat with a patently hostile and incompetent coach who would have clearly been turfed in favour of Roy. Morenz was a true Hab who died well before his time from an injury sustained while wearing the bleu, blanc, et rouge.


PS  No player will ever publicy say that other players do not deserve whatever honours team and league choose to bestow on them.

16 thoughts on “Guest Writer Has His Say About Roy’s Sweater Being Raised”

  1. Spare me the b.s pal, your obviously just another bitter habs fan thats still dwelling on Patrick walking out on your team. Get over it bud, fact of the matter is it doesnt matter what your arm chair opinion is, its that Patrick Roy IS going in the rafters and rightfully so. I’ll be thinking of you when his number goes up among all the greats where he deservingly belongs. His accomplishments and stats with the habs speak for itself. Anybody with half a brain cell knows what patrick did for the canadians. And i dont need a schooling on howie morenz, but if he was so good and meant that much to hockey and the montreal canadians then why did they trade him? i noticed you forgot to leave that out. Loyalty huh?

  2. Tsk Tsk Tsk!
    A Pepsi Generation Habs fans in Jordy (boy’s name or girls name?) who knows nothing about our storied franchise and the players that built this team, but only having a Patrick Roy poster pasted on the ceiling above his bed with wet dreams of Patrick dancing in his head every night.
    Dude, you need to get a life!

  3. Oooh! Hit a nerve eh? I had been a habs fan for some time when Roy came along and after the somewhat forgetable net-minders who tried to pick up where Dryden had left off, remember Steve Penny?, it was a relief to have a goalie like Roy. He at least gave the team a chance to be competitive and really with the rest of the team the way it was how much chance was there to win the cup? I was shocked when the “incident” took place but I was sympathetic and not thrilled with Tremblay. I guess for me it doesn’t bother me to have Roy in the rafters. He is arguably one of the better goalies in the history of the habs but also of the league. So recognize that and move on.

  4. The point I’m making is pretty simple in the sense that anybody with half a brain can apprehend it: great teams have high standards. What’s so difficult to grasp here? Now, Dennis, note that I am not going to administer a richly deserved verbal spanking to jordy, but I do encourage him to try and use his brain for something other than obsessive hero-worshipping and smarmy comments. Hey, it is possible to think!

    I do like dishonest john’s commentary: yeah, Roy looked really good given what came immediately before him and this contrast was/still is undoubtedly a contributing factor to the distorted adoration that prevents some Habbers from `getting it’. Sigh, as long as the fans accept mediocrity the team will pay the price for our lowered standards – the only good season, the really only acceptable season is one in which we win the Cup. What’s so hard to understand here?

  5. Ah, the controversy!

    I am really enjoying the competing arguments for and against Roy’s sweater retirement. It’s great to see everyone so passionate.

    I’m one of those who would like to see Roy’s # retired. I understand that he comes with baggage (perhaps an example of leitodes for you against the idea of #33 going to the rafters) but I’m of the opinion that Roy was the face of the franchise and greatest star during his tenure there (I used the word star, not human being, not two way forward, not most complete player in the world– titles reserved for the longest serving captain of the habs, the current coach and the current gm respectively).

    If we discount personal stats (which is lucky since until Brodeur makes a full recovery, Roy is it as far as goalies go)and enforce a 3 cup minimum (a standard set by a star from the 30s–one about whom a hyperbolic comparison is made by american sports writers trying to describe his importance to the game)perhaps Roy shouldn’t be considered.

    But I wonder what we are saying when we ignore personal stats. What are we doing when we set a cup minimums based on a few chosen players? What message do we send when we deify others who (and don’t get me wrong I love him) might have committed thugish acts of brutality on the ice? What perspective do we provide by foolishly insisting that playing in a 30 team league full of international talent and performing for a splintered and cynical populace is the same as playing for a rather homogenous (and in the mid 20th C. how else would you describe Canada and Quebec in particular) and rabidly loyal fan base in a league that had a rather super saturated solution of talent?

    Let’s be honest with ourselves. What we are engaging in is nothing more than a popularity contest. Objective criteria has been thrown out the window and we’re left with our own personal biases. You don’t like Roy, think he doesn’t measure up to the past greats? That’s fine with me, I understand it and sympathize. I hope to be fighting similar arguments with the next generation about Roy’s incandescence and greatness as he played his game and I will count on the softening focus of nostalgia to aid me in my fight.

    Don’t like modern-day heroes? Think they’re lacking a little too much of the right stuff? You’re probably right. But then again, I’ve got nothing more to go by then the passionate anecdotes of the fans who came before me.

    I’ve learned the stories, studied the lore. But maybe, just maybe fans of newer (lesser)vintage should be allowed something of their own to tell their kids and grandkids about.

    “You want to talk about high-pressure goalies?There was a goalie who played for the habs back in the 80’s…”

    “Ah, grandpa that was so long ago!”

  6. I don’t buy the argument that Patrick didn’t do enough for the team. The team wouldn’t have been anything without him. Without him, we would have had goalies like Steve Penney, JC Bergeron and Andre Racicot leading the team for those years.

    But it’s also hard to compare years and eras. Sure Beliveau won a ton of cups, but there were six teams back then, and NHL teams could sign players and teams to contracts when they were very young, not like now with the draft. When the Habs won the Cups in the late 70s, there was a dilution in talent because of the WHA. In the late 80s and early 90s, the number of teams jumped to 21. Now we’re at 30. More teams make it more difficult to continue to be successful because the talent is spread out.

    Now there’s a salary cap. Had there been one in the 70s, could Montreal have afforded to keep all those superstars? Probably not. Which would have decreased their chances of winning those Cups.

    My point is that you can’t look at Patrick Roy and say he doesn’t deserve to be in the rafters because he doesn’t stand up to other great Hab players, because you can’t compare them because circumstances are always different. The game seems to be totally turned on its heels every decade or so, and no one knows for sure how players would have fared in other eras.

    But you can’t idolize players past like they were the be all and end all. The media just didn’t report on them like they do nowadays. Look at Bernie Geoffrion. According to wikipedia: “Likely the reason for his first retirement was Béliveau (who was not one of three alternate captains), getting appointed team captain in 1961.” If that were to happen now, the media would be all over it, and I can tell you that history wouldn’t look so kindly upon that person (imagine if Lidstrom “retired” because Datsyuk was named captain after Yzerman finished his playing career).

    Times change. The game changes. The players change. Let’s honour those who deserve to be honoured for what they did for the team, and not keep waxing on about how great things might have been.

  7. Hehehe, this is ripe. Hmmm, does anybody have a clue what `subtoxastic’ said? LOL. A pompous panjandrum once again self-exposed sorta like a flasher lurkin in the park waiting his chance to shock, well, whomever. Hmm, will he once again `accuse’ me of LOL neuroplasm? syncretism? LOL. Really, somebody trying so hard to impress reveals himself to be so fatuous that he cannot be taken seriously. Wow! subtoxastic you are so clever you truly do seem to be an appropriate subject for `neuroplasmic’ investigation. LOL. In any case, once again, I point out that the main point is simple and easy to apprehend – standards do matter & expectations should be high. DUH. This has nothing to do with time or place or individual players except insofar as they exemplify excellence. DUH. Roy didn’t do enough. DUH. The argument is simple: by `raising’ Roy’s sweater (and, yes, again, I do think he was a great player) we sanction a `lowering’of standards (heheh, get the parallelism here .. heheh, hmmm, must be post-modern bs, eh? LOL.) Now, feel free to agree or disagree but I have as yet to come across any coherent argument against this position. Of course, there is one, but it seems that the Roy worshippers are either too blinded by their obsessive adoration or too full of themselves to work it out. And even if they ever manage to do so, the best that can be expected from it is the acknowledgement that, given the historical record, they are considerably more irrational in their beliefs than the anti-raisers. Heheh, hint: dishonedst john is, well, kinda sorta honest.

  8. Im not a pepsi generation habs fan. Im not a habs fan at all. I recognize greatness when i see it though and patrick had it. case closed. It has nothing to do with your stupid habs tradition, i could care less about it and so could every other hockey fan that doesnt cheer for the habs. Stats dont lie, cups dont lie and hes got them both to back up his case. Like i said to jim, i’ll say it to retro mikey, your arm chair opinion doesnt matter, Roy is going in the rafters and his big number 33 will be there to look at every game you watch. You’ll learn to like it.

  9. Jim, my old sparring partner. Different site, same outcome.

    I really thought you were going in a different direction with your article there for a minute:

    “WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS is the ultimate goal”

    This sounds like the Patrick Roy I remember. In fact, in championship years, his stats were sometimes shocking (and not in the good way).

    Your conclusion caught me off-guard. And though I appreciate the basis for your position. I have to disagree. First of all, we all know that it is not the number of Cups that determine a sweater being retired. It is a more abstract evaluation.

    Morenz for example, though you conveniently set the bar low enough for him to clear, would have had his sweater retired with a single Cup, in my opinion. He meant so much to the team, because he captured the imagination of the fans and exhilerated on the ice. He was the star of the resurgent Canadiens in the late 20s and early 30s.

    This for our younger generation is what Patrick Roy did. Many people of the spoiled (15+ Cup) generation often share your view. They begrudge younger fans a hero – for ours was not as good as theirs. While measured in Cups, this is certainly true. Measured in hearts, it most certainly is not. Call it marketing if you want. But if you do, you miss the way Roy captured imaginations.

    What’s more, there is some objectivity to this decision. During the stretch from 1985 to 1994 (encompassing most of Patrick’s tenure), the Canadiens had the second best regular season record, were the second most successful in terms of Cups won (tied with Pitts) and the most successful in terms of finals contested (tied with Edm). It may sound paltry in the context of everything that came before, but in the context of what came afterwards across the league – 3 finals and 2 Cups, with contender for league crown thrown in a few times is as close to dynasty as it gets – you even conceded that point when you mentioned Detroit, though, didn’t you?

    As you know that team was founded on the solid goaltending that they happened upon in their third round pick from Granby. He wa the beginning of any strategy and on top of it he was a character and a star.

    If Patrick Roy does not get his sweater retired, we might as well call it a day for anyone in the future. And that, I think even the Richards and Beliveau would agree, would be a shame…

  10. Jim:

    I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree that any of my systemic criticisms of your position have weight.

    BTW, I hope I never accused you of neuroplasm; perhaps it was pleonasm I meant. Regardless, your guest writer submission was refreshingly free of it.


  11. One more thing there jim , who exactly set the standards of saying you need at least 3 cups to have your number retired? was it the Montreal Canadians organization that said it or is it you making it up in your own mind being the arm chair G.M that you are? if you hate patrick roy thats understandable, but to be ignorant enough to tune out his legendary status and accomplishments with the habs and with the game in general it makes me wonder if you have any hockey knowledge at all.It seems to me there are more habs fans in favor of patricks number being retired. Nevertheless i enjoy a good debate and i sure got one here.

  12. Okay I respected the people who have their opinion on Patrick as a person and there have been many scandals revolving around him. But to try and discredit his accomplishments as a player is just plain ignorant.
    Im sorry but that december 2nd 1995 was an embarassement on the coaching staff’s part. To have no respect for a goalie that brings 2 cups to your team is unbelievable. People need to realise that our team has been total crap ever since 1995 with that big change in coaching staff. The whole reason why we went from winners to losers. You suck Mario Tremblay!

    Check out my blog for links to watch the game online:

  13. Ahhh, Topham, my man. Quelle surprise! As always, a pleasure to trade opinions with you and, as always, you sally forth with a reasonably coherent, intelligible position that, as always, impels me to re-evaluate my stance. (Hehhe, how’s that for cheap rhetorical theatrics … hmmm, almost makes der Habinator’s lol pleonastic ways seem downright civilized, eh?) Yes, I think you are right that I do not really appreciate the extent of Roy’s popularity and the intensity with which younger generations of Hab (and hockey) fans have embraced him. Although, given the rather juvenile quality of commentary of some of these Roy-luuuvers I really must doubt their ability to think clearly and critically. Ahh well, such is the nature of fandom – this particular expression of our irrational natures is very much what makes it entertaining and interesting. And certainly, given that I maintain that fans are very much an integral part of the team, I would be hard pressed to dismiss your arguments. Still, 1) I did not claim that the number of cup wins was the only criterion for deciding on sweater retirement. I did say it was the single most important one but I made it abundantly clear that other considerations were also important – the `necessary but not sufficient’ constraint, eh; 2)re cup wins, I merely `asserted’ that three cups is the minimal necessary to even consider a player’s sweater for retirement. You can `assert’ otherwise (a simple thing to do that some Roy-luuuvers seem unable to grasp) which it appears you have – you have set the bar even lower with Roy’s two … and why not? Hey, the Leafs are gonna retire Wendel’s # and he didn’t win a single cup … hmmm, should we be thinking of retiring your pet player’s # sometime down the road? Of course, he might just win one cup. Ahhh yes, the problem of standards, of setting them, of adjusting them, of maintaining them – it seems to me that in this respect we (the Habs) can only sink lower which is very much what this tempest is about and, yes, your point that the standards have qualitatively changed is legitimate and not one I can in good faith ignore although I am of the opinion that higher standards are more desirable than lower ones; 3)As for Roy the player – read my comments; 4) as for Roy the person, hey, many good things to like and admire about him but the dialogue here is strictly about his behaviour in the context of the Habs organization and giving in to a bullying incompetent definitely does not endear him to me so, yes, I do judge him wanting in the way he reacted that infamous night and furthermore I think that if he had shown adequate character he would matured into a truly great goalie and would have been a Hab for life and we would have won a few more cups in which case this controversy would not be happening – the woulda/coulda/shoula syndrome; 5)I was rather pleased to see that you glommed in on the `dynasty’potential – but, again, team effort Topham, my man. If Roy had had the `right stuff’ we shoulda won at least four – sure as hell shouldn’t have lost to the Flames!

    p.s. Topham, Hitler (a genocidal tyrant) ranted, Nixon (an egotistical panjandrunm) ranted, the two Ducks (toons) rant so why in the world would you want to put yourself in their company? Of course, usage determines meaning but in this case it is only a small group of somewhat less than eloquent sportswriters who somehow think that labelling their opinions as `rants’ is, what?, cool?

    jordy: I do respect your passion, but do try to use your brain a little more effectively.

    subotoxastic: jordy is too emotional too know how dumb he is and you are too pompous to know how dumb you are. Look, syncretism is a formal notion which refers to the attempt to reconcile opposing political and religious beliefs – hmmm, I guess in your mind Habdom is a kind of religion; pleonasm is the term used to describe a kind of (cheap) rhetorical device that der Habinator obviously and joyously engaged in – but then, you didn’t get him altho an 18 yr old high school student did which doesn’t say much for your perspicacity, eh? Whatever. How these have any particular relationship to post-modernism is, well, at best opaque. Look, you did not provide any kind of meaningful critique – I suggest you read Topham for a lesson in this respect. Hint: KISS

  14. Jim:

    Syncretism is also a formal definition in the world of phil./critical thinking; guess all you want.

    You want to conduct ad hominem attacks instead of adhering to the charity prinicple well then here’s one for you: 18 year olds getting you? Why, they’re seniors and the vitriol you spew seems more sophomoric.

    Nothing I have posted on your guest spot has alluded to po-mo. Just let it go– or not.

    Honestly, you come across sometimes like while the rest of the world is sleeping you’re up busy finding us all the right answers.

    If and when you want to have an actual exchange of ideas that doesn’t involve calling people stupid or dismissing ideas that you’re either being too lazy or stubborn to consider, feel free. I’ll wait.

  15. Jim,

    Thank you for admiring my passion for the game, although calling me dumb might be a little much (although some might agree). I dont take that stuff personal anyways. Were both obviously die hard hockey fans and its been fun exchanging opinions, and as much as i come off stubborn on mine i do respect yours. I look forward to more exchanges between us in the future on a friendlier level. Cheers

  16. Jordy – good on you! You definitely have displayed considerably more character than subtoxastic – hey, it ain’t that hard to own up to what one says, eh? So, check out your comments – `ignorant’ spring to mind? Hmm, dumb seems tame by comparison, I think. In any case, I look forward to butting heads with you in the future and, yes, on a somewhat more amicable basis.

    subTOXastic – what is wrong with you? What is it that prevent you from seeing how toxic and vile and angry and nasty you are? You lash out then somehow in your juvenile brain you fail to hold yourself accountable. How, well, sad. Grow up!

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