'Happy' Roy lands new job in Colorado

The Associated Press

DENVER Patrick Roy, humiliated, angry and apologetic just days ago, began a new chapter in his illustrious NHL career yesterday when he was traded from the Montreal Canadiens to the Colorado Avalanche.

''Three days ago it was a sad moment for me,'' Roy said. ''Today is a happy moment. Colorado was my first choice for many reasons. I look forward to helping my new team reach its goal of winning the Stanley Cup. This is a new turn in my life.''

Roy, suspended by the Canadiens after a blowup with the team's coach and president, was the centerpiece of a five-player deal in which the Avalanche obtained playoff-savvy veterans while the Canadiens stockpiled young talent.

''I was really humiliated with what happened on the ice,'' Roy said by telephone from Montreal. ''After the game, I knew I had made a mistake and would have to live with the consequences. It was clear the club was going to suspend me and trade me.''

Roy, 30, who led the Canadiens to Stanley Cups in 1986 and 1993 and is a three-time Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's top goalie, was sent to Colorado along with right wing Mike Keane for goalie Jocelyn Thibault, left wing Martin Rucinsky and right wing Andrei Kovalenko.

Colorado general manager Pierre Lacroix, Roy's former agent, completed the deal with Montreal general manager Rejean Houle about 2 a.m., a few hours after the Avalanche routed San Jose 12-2.

''We wanted to acquire an experienced goaltender for the playoffs, someone who would give us grit and leadership in what we call crunch time,'' Lacroix said.

Coach Marc Crawford said Roy will start in goal in Colorado's next game, today at home against Edmonton.

''It's safe to say Patrick won't have the same workload he had in Montreal, where he had to play almost every game,'' Crawford said.

Roy, in the third year of a four-year contract worth $16 million, was 12-9-1 this season with a 90.7 save percentage and a 2.95 goals-against average. He was 289-175-66 with a 2.77 GAA in 11 seasons with the Canadiens.

Roy said his split with the Canadiens resulted solely from head coach Mario Tremblay's decision to leave him in Saturday night's 11-1 loss to Detroit until 11:57 of the second period with the Canadiens down 9-1.

When he reached the bench, Roy glared at Tremblay, then leaned over and told club president Ronald Corey, ''That's my last game in Montreal.''

''It was probably just a sign of frustration,'' Lacroix said. ''He's a leader, a competitor, a winner, a high-level person. I don't think any of this will follow him to Colorado.''

Asked if the acquisition of Roy might upset his team's chemistry, Crawford said, ''You're always concerned about how chemistry is affected by a deal, but we've added two guys of tremendous character who have won two Stanley Cups.''

This was the third major deal by the Avalanche (16-7-4) since the former Quebec Nordiques franchise moved to Denver last May. First, Colorado traded holdout Wendel Clark for right wing Claude Lemieux, who was last season's Stanley Cup playoff MVP. Then Colorado dealt for offensive-minded defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh.

Lacroix said the deal did not mean he was displeased with the team's goaltending.

''In fact, we were on top of the league,'' Lacroix said. ''We had two good young guys (Stephane Fiset and Thibault). But now we feel much more comfortable.

''There is always a sad side. We had to give up three very good players. They're going to help Montreal in the new direction they're taking. We're aware that in order to get quality people, you've got to give quality people.''

Keane, 28, the Canadiens' captain this year, has seven assists in 18 games. He had 90 goals and 179 assists in 506 games in eight seasons with Montreal.

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