It all started on
That night, the Wings went into the famed Montreal Forum and put a good old-fashioned pasting on the Canadiens. They beat them, annihilated them, 11-1. Never before had a Red Wings team beaten a Canadiens squad so badly. And it happened on
In the process, the Red Wings helped set off a flurry of events that, ultimately, would lead to a key figure in a near-future rivalry tormenting them for years. Until he, finally, got his comeuppance.
I was watching the tube that night. The Red Wings were merciless, pelting Canadiens goalie Patrick Roy. As puck after puck poured past him, through him, behind him, the Forum crowd got nastier and nastier. Now, when a hockey team loses 11-1, it’s not because of one man, not even the netminder. It’s a total breakdown. Yet the Canadiens fans made it clear that the object of their derision was the arrogant and defiant Roy, a two-time Stanley Cup winner in
Tremblay, staring hard at
Then it all came to a head.
At the next whistle, Tremblay finally, but still without mercy, called
The Forum had this odd set-up whereby the fans sitting directly behind the bench weren’t separated by glass from the players and coaches. If you weren’t careful, you’d spill your beer on Toe Blake or Scotty Bowman or Claude Ruel or Jacques Demers. On this night, sitting behind the Canadiens bench was Ronald Corey, president of the team. As
A rivalry was born!
The Red Wings and the Avalanche – shortened to Avs by those impatient and spelling-challenged sports writers – were about to engage in one of sports’ all-time greatest rivalries. From 1996-2002, the teams met in the playoffs five times. Three times the Avalanche, er, Avs, won. The two times the Red Wings triumphed, they went on to win the Stanley Cup.
And all the while, Red Wings fans had to deal with that cocky, disrespectful punk in net. Patrick Roy.
Initially, the object of the fans’ scorn in Detroit was the pugnacious, though cowardly forward, Claude Lemieux, who became Public Enemy #1 after rearranging Kris Draper’s face in the 1996 Western Conference Finals with a vicious hit from behind into the boards. But then Patty Roy opened his mouth one game later, and it was REALLY on.
The Avs won the first two games of that series in
“Well, you had to figure that they’d manage to win a home game sooner or later, wouldn’t you?”
Not only did he say it, he smirked about it smugly.
The Avs won that series, and the Cup one round later. The next year, it was the Red Wings’ turn. They beat the Avs in the Conference Finals, and won the Cup one round later.
The Avs beat the Red Wings in the second round in 1999 and 2000. Patty Roy’s team was now 3-1 in playoff series against
Two years later, they got that chance.
Roy (right, battling Chris Osgood at the height of the Red Wings-Avs rivalry)
It was another conference final, another classic series. The Wings won Game 1 in
Then Patty Roy’s arrogance and flair for the dramatic jumped up and bit him, right through his hockey pants.
In a scoreless Game 6 in
This past week, as we media types talked to Roy on a conference call about his upcoming jersey retirement in Montreal, I made mention of those great Red Wings-Avs games. And I asked Patty if he was aware of how hated he was in
“It’s funny. I never really felt hated. The fans in
And what of that night in December, 1995, when the Red Wings unwittingly changed the course of hockey history?
“They say that one game doesn’t make a career,”
Hated or not, it’s nice to see