Number 33 to join immortals?

La Presse reports the Canadiens will retire Patrick Roy’s jersey number in November. 

The club would not confirm the story. Columnist Richard Labbé was told the team plans to announce its centennial activities on Sept. 24.

Roy’s number 33 already has been retired by the Colorado Avalanche.


If the story is true, at least one pundit won’t be happy. In March, Red Fisher wrote:

"Canadiens owner George N. Gillett Jr. and team president Pierre Boivin should know it’s a bad decision – and has been from the start … what they must do is look long and hard at it and then decide whether retiring his No. 33 is good for the game and for the organization.
"It is not. In my view, Roy abdicated his rights to that honour with his capitulation to irrationalism on Dec. 2, 1995, when a stunned Forum crowd saw him allow nine goals on 26 shots in an 11-1 meltdown to the Detroit Red Wings. It was only then that he was taken out of the game by coach Mario Tremblay.
"Anyone who was there or viewed the game on TV can still see a furious Roy shouldering his way past Tremblay to Canadiens president Ronald Corey sitting in the first row behind the players’ bench, leaning over and telling him he had played his last game with the team. That film clip has been shown over and over again following last Saturday’s hockey version of road rage – and for good reason. It was unprofessional and a gross disrespect for the sweater he wore. Four days later, he was shipped to Colorado."

That said, you can’t argue with numbers. Roy’s team records include games played (665, including playoffs), fewest losses in a season (five in 1988-’89), longest home winning streak (14 in ’88-’89), longest home undefeated streak (29 in ’88-’89), most playoff games and most saves in a playoff game: a mind-blowing 60 in a 2-1 overtime conquest of Boston in 1994.

The Canadiens would not have won their two most recent Stanley Cups without Patrick Roy. Factoring in the quality of his supporting cast – in comparison to Ken Dryden’s and Jacques Plante’s – Roy is arguably the greatest goaltender in the team’s 100-year history.

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There are rumours that another number may be retired during the course of the centennial season.

Broadcaster Ron Lapointe has lobbied for raising the number 3 to the Bell Centre rafters as a tribute to Emile "Butch" Bouchard. 

And you could make a very good case for number 6, worn by Toe Blake during the distinguished playing career that preceded his brilliant run as coach of a team that won five consecutive Stanley Cups.

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