Monsieur Butterfly Hockey's greatest goaltender, Patrick Roy, changed the shape of the game

June 08, 2003

Patrick Roy retired last week, perhaps a year too soon, as the
best goaltender in NHL history. His litany of accomplishments
includes 551 regular-season wins, 151 playoff victories, two
Stanley Cups each with the Montreal Canadiens and the Colorado
Avalanche, and three Conn Smythe Trophies. Roy, 37, was a
technical goalie, scientifically precise on his angles as he
dropped into his familiar butterfly: pads splayed and stick
covering the five hole, leaving only pinpricks of daylight over
his shoulders at which shooters could aim. He might not have
dominated as the Detroit Red Wings' Terry Sawchuk did 40 years
ago or Buffalo's Dominik Hasek did in the late 1990s, but to
dwell on Roy's shortcomings--his sometimes indifferent
puckhandling, his spectacular meltdown in the 2002 Western
Conference finals against Detroit, his 6-7 record in Game 7s--is
to dwell on Cindy Crawford's mole.

Roy was more than great. He was significant. Jacques Plante
popularized the goalie mask, the position's most important
innovation, but Roy, adopting the principles laid out two decades
ago by current Anaheim goalie consultant Francois Allaire, made
the butterfly the predominant goaltending style in the NHL, as
anyone watching the Mighty Ducks' Jean-Sebastien Giguere in the
ongoing Stanley Cup finals can see. (The Devils' Martin Brodeur
once idolized Roy, as did many children in the goalie factory
called Quebec, where Roy grew up, but Brodeur plays a more
stand-up style.) The butterfly, practiced by men padded out to
resemble the Michelin Man, is one element in the NHL's descent
into the Dead Puck era. For years of low-scoring hockey, Roy
probably deserves our dubious thanks.

Last week, when asked what shooters he had most feared during his
18-year career, Roy said, "To be honest with you, there's none."
It's not bragging if you can back it up, and the numbers show
that Roy could. The man may have skated off, but St. Patrick's
spirit will be there whenever the puck is dropped. --Michael
Farber

COLOR PHOTO: DAVID E. KLUTHO (ROY) PUCK STOPPER Roy never backed down from the league's finest snipers.
COLOR PHOTO: GARY CASKEY/REUTERS [See caption above]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)