"I'm young," he says, shrugging. "I don't need a big house with lots of furniture. I like this place. Maybe someday if I get married, then...." Except for Roy and Deblois, who recently became a free agent and was signed by the Rangers, the Rosemont section of Montreal has not been a magnet for the Canadiens. Understandably. It is a nondescript, middle-and lower-middle-class section of the city some 25 minutes from downtown.
Later this day, Roy guns the Camaro up Avenue Atwater, headed for the Forum. When he arrives, his teammates greet him—many of them were also his teammates on the Canadiens' softball team during the summer; others have not seen him since the riotous Cup celebration back in June. They all seem to regard Roy as their baby brother, a boy who has been accepted into the fraternal order of men only because he has proved himself in battle. "When I started here I felt lost because all the veterans were talking about business or money or taxes," Roy says. "I didn't care about that, but now I understand and I listen because it's important to save the money and learn the business and make good contacts."
After getting his skates sharpened, Roy heads for Guy Gagnon Arena in suburban Verdun for a pre-training camp workout. Once on the ice, the head twitching and shoulder shrugging that drew almost as much comment as his goaltending begin again. It's as if he suffers from some aggravating neck crick that perpetually needs stretching. Roy says he twitches because it is hot underneath his face mask; he's getting air to circulate beneath it with all his thrashing. "I'm not nervous," he says defensively. During the playoff series with the Rangers the New York crowd tried to feed what they thought to be a manifestation of nerves with their eerily hostile version of the "Rooooo-ah, Rooooo-ah" chant every time Roy's head so much as bobbed. He was unaffected.
Remember Game 3? The Canadiens led the series 2-0, and the Rangers peppered the net with 47 shots, including 13 in 9:41 of overtime, before Montreal rightwinger Claude Lemieux scored the game-winner. It was a playoff performance that ranks among the greatest of all time. "I'll never forget that game," Roy says. "You always say to yourself, 'They can't beat me.' But that night, I knew they couldn't beat me. I was in complete control."
But then, Roy was in control throughout the playoffs. Rival teams' scouts would try to sight in on weaknesses they thought they had spotted. Some said his stickwork behind the net was suspect, or that he fell to the ice too quickly, or that he surrendered rebounds right in front of the net. But he refused to falter and held opponents to a single goal seven times in 20 playoff games. When it was over, Robinson called Roy's performance the best playoff goaltending he had seen in his 14 years with the Canadiens, and in six of those years Hall of Famer Dryden was in the Montreal net.
After two hours of practice Roy skates off the ice and proclaims himself ready for the 1986-87 season. The first shot—be it of the season or of the game—is a source of anxiety for all goaltenders. Roy smiles: The first shot of his sophomore season was cake. The feeling is back. The glove is quick. Having pads on again feels good. No burnout here.
"Sure, you worry; you worry how he will cope with all the attention," says Roy's mother, Barbara, a real estate agent. "But I'm proud of the way he's handled it. In fact, I was quite surprised when we met with some lawyers this summer and talked about forming a family company. Patrick really knows what's going on, how companies are formed and taxes and all. Before, it was always hockey. He's matured that way."
But sports still come first. As might be expected in this family. Roy's father, Michel, a vice-president of the Quebec Automobile Insurance Board, showed enough promise to have been scouted by the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Barbara was a competitive synchronized swimmer. Roy's brother Stephane, 19, is a forward who was drafted 51st overall by the Minnesota North Stars last season.
Family talent and influence aside, the decision to make a career of stopping pucks was made when Roy was seven, and it was his alone. "I liked the pads," he confesses. "I saw all that equipment, and I wanted to wear it."
Roy most admires the goaltenders who have proved themselves over the long, haul: Rogie Vachon, whose playing career covered 16 seasons; Tony Esposito (15 seasons); and Dryden (8 seasons). He understands that the stress of the position demands a strong off-ice commitment. Consequently his social life, even during the off-season, is tame stuff, pretty much limited to spending weekends with his girlfriend, Michelle Piuze, from back home in Quebec City.