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'The Avalanche are going to suck'

Colorado fans unsure about franchise's future without Roy

Posted: Wednesday May 28, 2003 7:43 PM

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• Farber: A career for the ages
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• SI Photo Gallery: St. Patrick
Fans lament Roy's departure
Avalanche face tough decision
DENVER (AP) -- Motorcycle cop Wayne Walters ticked off a few reasons Patrick Roy retired Wednesday from the NHL.

"Eighteen years. Four Stanley Cups. I think the man deserves retirement. He's given it his all," the police officer said while taking a break in downtown Denver. "He owns every record for a goalie. He might as well go out like that -- being on top."

Colorado Avalanche fans displayed mixed emotions a few hours after Roy announced his retirement from professional hockey. Some feared it would take years for the Avalanche to recover from the loss. Others noted Roy's achievements, recalling with pride the years he led the Avalanche to two Stanley Cup championships.

"He's one of the greatest players in hockey. He'll be missed in Denver," said Denver Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe, who was lunching with aides at a popular sports grill near the Pepsi Center, home of the Nuggets and Avalanche.

Images of Roy's retirement press conference flashed on giant-screen televisions at the grill.

At a nearby construction site, fan Louie Gonzales squinted in the sun as he expressed a popular, if blunt, opinion.

"Now the Avalanche are going to suck," he said without apologies.

A few blocks away, Craig Schofner listened to a folk group and put a finer spin on the sentiment. "I think the Avalanche are going to come into some hard times," he said.

Still other fans wondered what compelled a 37-year-old athlete in the prime of his life to end a long, good run.

"I don't think they paid him what he's worth," offered Thomas Curl outside a restaurant in Denver's Lower Downtown, a district of brick warehouses and lofts.

Like others, Denver tourist Matt Smith, of Freehold, N.J., seemed surprised Roy was leaving while he apparently remained passionate for the game.

"It seems like he's still on top of his game," said Smith. "I guess he wanted to leave while he was still the best."

Not all hockey fans were convinced Roy was at the top.

"I think he did it at the right time," said attorney David Eason of Boulder as he paid for a hotdog. "I think his skills were starting to fade. It's sad to watch a great player try to hang on."

A fan since Roy arrived in Denver in 1995, Zoe Offe of Aurora wished Roy had hung on for one more year.

"It's going to take a long time before they are contenders for the Stanley Cup [again]," she said wistfully. "They'll get there, but it'll take time."


 
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