Barring insanity, Patrick "Twitch" Roy will be selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame today (update: he has, along with Dick Duff, Herb Brooks and Harley Hotchkiss), giving me the excuse (as if any is needed) for some misty-eyed memories.
I was sitting in the Arizona Daily Wildcat newsroom, a few weeks away from college graduation, when news of the fateful trade came down -- and man did I think it was a mistake. I'd figured that Colorado was just a way station on Jocelyn Thibault's journey to the Hall of Fame, I was fond (unjustifiably so) of Andrei Kovalenko, and I figured Roy was about done. I've never been so happy to be proven wrong.
He was never one of my favorite players -- I tended to gravitate toward the slick scorers (Sakic and Kamensky), the agitators (Lemieux and Corbet), and the inexplicable (Josef Marha, whose trade to Anaheim for Warren Freakin' Rychel remains an emotional trauma). Roy's cockiness, as entertaining as it could be ("I've got my two Stanley Cup rings in my ears") could also be eye-rolling (his failed quest to beat the shit out of any Red Wings goalie) or hazardous (there should have been a court order preventing him from trying to play the puck, and yes, I remember the Statue of Liberty goal).
But when he was back there, he gave the team (and its fans) such confidence. When he was on, I could confidently say "they're not going to beat him today," and more often than not, be correct. When he infuriated the opposition, we loved it. In a sport that often seems to prize bland personalities, his quirkiness and intensity brought in some needed color.
And then there's those Cups. It's safe to say that without Roy, those two championships would have gone elsewhere. For that, I'm eternally grateful.
Congratulations, Patrick. It's well-deserved. We won't see your likes again, I fear.