The bad news for the Quebec Remparts on Nov. 9 was that they lost a mistake-filled home game to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 4-1. The good news was that their boss was sometimes too distracted to catch all their errors. As usual this season, the team's part-owner Patrick Roy watched the match from Section 19 of Colis�e Pepsi. And, as usual, every few minutes he was asked to sign a fan's ticket stub or hot-dog wrapper. Says Roy, the winningest goalie in NHL history, who retired from the Colorado Avalanche in May after playing for 18 full seasons, "At least most people in town have my signature."
St. Patrick has happily traded NHL greatness for hockey's grassroots. The 38-year-old icon not only has a stake in the club—he plunked down $220,000 for one third of the franchise in 1996—but he's also the public face, hands-on general manager and quasi assistant coach of his hometown's entry in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. "I knew that when I felt my passion for playing the game slipping, it was time to go," he says of his decision to retire. "The sign of that is when you're distracted by other things you want to do."
Since buying a portion of the team, Roy has been a relatively silent partner, but he became more involved last season. He watched tapes of every Remparts game and dissected them in daily phone conversations with coach Eric Lavigne. Two weeks after Colorado was eliminated from the playoffs last April, Roy was on the ice at the Colis�e helping players prepare for the Memorial Cup tournament, the Canadian junior championship.
Roy has immersed himself in every aspect of the franchise's operation. On a typical day he's on the ice by 9 a.m. in skates tutoring all the players. (He hasn't donned goalie pads because, he says, "I wouldn't want to wreck their confidence.") He spends afternoons in his plush Colis�e office, formulating plans and brainstorming ways to grow the Remparts' season-ticket base, which is about 1,000 this year. He rides the team bus to road games, even to outposts such as Prince Edward Island, which is a nine-hour trek. "When I heard he was coming back this season, I figured he'd stop by the office once in a while," says Remparts center Josh Hennessy, 18. "I didn't think he'd be the last guy off the ice every day."
After Christmas, Roy plans to spend much of his time in rinks around Quebec and the maritime provinces, scouting midget leagues for talent in advance of next summer's draft. Future Remparts will luxuriate in the team's facilities, thanks to the dressing-room renovation last summer that Roy oversaw. "Details," says Lavigne, "are everything to him."
This being juniors, in which players range in age from 16 to 20, Roy is responsible for more than the color of the clubhouse carpet. He's adamant that all Remparts attend school, and he has arranged for tutors to help the team's eight American players take correspondence courses from their home high schools. Junior players across Canada usually live with families during the season. Roy has two Remparts, 16-year-old defensemen Joey Ryan and Andrew Andricopoulos, bivouacked at his suburban Quebec home. "I'm there to make sure everything is O.K. with my players," says Roy. "I want their families to know their kids are in good hands."
On the whole, those kids are not the most talented group in the league—Quebec was 8-13-3-1 through Sunday—but Roy is building for the long haul, and he insists that he has no interest in an NHL comeback. "I didn't feel like I was slowing down, but I don't want to play that position anymore," he says. "It's the way I am—when I turn a page, it's over. The Memorial is the only Cup I've never won. I'd like to change that."
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