The passion and the will to win, every night. In the eyes of the dozen former players, assistants and close collaborators to whom The newspaper talked about in the last few days, that’s what defined Patrick Roy, the goalkeeper with four Stanley Cups, but also Patrick Roy, the head coach. The one who is now trying to add a second Memorial Cup to his prestigious record, in what should be his “last dance” behind the Remparts bench.
“I think he really made us want to win. In fact, he taught us to hate losing. What he wanted, basically, was to see us work as hard as possible,” says ex-striker Angelo Esposito, who took the top honors of Canadian junior hockey in Roy’s first year as coach.
Esposito was in his first year in the red uniform of the Remparts when Patrick Roy took over the helm of the team in 2005. The club, of which he was then co-owner and general manager, did not moment, winning just one of their first five meetings.
Page 84 of the Journal de Québec of December 23, 1996, the day after the takeover of the Harfangs de Beauport by Patrick Roy, Jacques Tanguay and Michel Cadrin, who would once again become the Remparts.
Roy, the man who made his classes
But at the time, even if he had only retired from professional hockey for two years, Roy had already learned his skills, recalls Bob Hartley.
Before taking the job with the Remparts, the former goalkeeper coached the Beaubourg bantam AA team (Beauport and Charlesbourg) with his friend and eventual assistant, Claude Lefebvre.
However, “he didn’t need to go and coach at this level,” said Hartley, who coached Roy in Colorado.
“He could have gone straight to the NHL and achieved great things,” he believes. But it shows his passion, his desire to always be the best.”
The eternal number 33 straightens the helm of the ship to rout and the team wins that same year its first Memorial Cup since 1971.
Patrick Roy complains to the referee after striker Angelo Esposito received a penalty.
An astonishing feat of arms, since this ring is considered one of the most difficult to put on your finger, given the long journey that leads to ultimate victory.
But this is nothing surprising in the eyes of those who have known him closely. “He always had the right words to motivate us. He always knew how to find the little flame inside us,” explains former defender Mikaël Tam, who joined the Remparts in 2007 and was coached by Patrick for five years.
Roy, the coach who asks for advice
Roy has this desire, too, to constantly improve. Because both Tam and assistants Martin Laperrière (2005 to 2020) and Lefebvre (2006 to 2011) describe Roy as a coach “who consults a lot of those around him”.
“We also often called coaches from the National League to get their opinion. It’s good, sometimes, to think outside the box”, mentions Laperrière.
Far from the image, therefore, of the man who wants to control everything by which Patrick Roy is sometimes depicted.
Roy, the “tough, but fair” man
If there is a cliché concerning the 57-year-old man who is however proven, according to the respondents surveyed, it is that of the “demanding” coach.
“Hard”, even. But fair, too, underline Tam and Marc-Édouard Vlasic, the Sharks defenseman who is Roy’s most prolific “foal” in the NHL to date. “There are times when I got bumped into. He challenged me, ”points out Tam.
“At the time, he was extremely harsh,” said Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault, who played for the former goaltender from 2007 to 2011. […] He was such a difficult coach that I think he brought out the best in most players.”
Some of his former proteges also point out that such pressure was not made for everyone.
“I had teammates who didn’t like him, but those who were there for the right reasons, who wanted to win, they liked him,” said Tam. Because Pat, if you gave it to him, if you applied what he asked for, you were going to become one of his trusted men.
“He was a strict guy who coached with passion, and he just wanted the best for his players. He was sometimes hard on me, but often very good, ”adds Anthony Duclair, now one of the Panthers forwards.
Roy, the “visionary” and “working” coach
Roy also did “everything to help his players,” points out Esposito, who lived at that time with the pressure of being one of the brightest prospects in junior hockey.
“The Remparts were one of the first teams to hire a coach who was in charge of physical conditioning. And if we needed a psychologist, if a player had problems off the ice, the team and him did everything so that we knew everything about the subject, ”he praises.
If Tam describes him as “an excellent strategist”, he also remembers a coach who did not count his hours.
“He is in the office at 6:50 or 7 a.m. every morning and he is not sitting down reading the news, confirms Benoît Desrosiers, his assistant since his return to Quebec in 2018. He watches videos nonstop. He’s a guy who would like to try 122 cases.”
“Sometimes I have to calm him down a bit,” he continues. He wants everything to be perfect. The word passion is not even strong enough.
Roy, the coach who adapted
But if Patrick Roy remained as passionate between his first and his second stay behind the Remparts bench, which was punctuated in particular by a three-year stint with the Avalanche, he has also changed a lot over the years, believe his acolytes and former players.
Patrick Roy during Remparts training in 2019.
Once or twice a year, Marchessault trains with the Remparts. He discovered a trainer who was always demanding, but more aware of what differentiated each of his proteges.
“He understands the situations, he knows who to push more than others, and that’s his strength now. This is also why [les Remparts] have been so successful in recent years,” he says.
Photo Didier Desbusschere
Patrick Roy lifts the Gilles-Courteau trophy, awarded to the QMJHL champions, after the Remparts’ victory in Moncton last Sunday.
Tam saw the same thing when he acted as an “assistant” for three months at the Remparts, in 2020. He saw a coach who adapted well to the new generation, which he considers different from his.
“I saw that Pat had changed his approach. It also demonstrates how he is not a stubborn guy for whom my way is the highway.»
“If he ever retires, he will have had an incredible career,” he smiles. It was he who led the Remparts to where they are now, with Jacques Tanguay and all the others. He won the Memorial Cup once, but with what’s going on right now, I wouldn’t really be surprised if he lifted it a second time.”
“And I wish him.”
– With the collaboration of Stéphane Cadorette, Kevin Dubé and Mylène Richard