Friday, March 28, 2008

You Don't Belong, Patrick

A sweater I proudly wore in 1985, at the age of 9. 33 was my childhood hero. This was the image I've always kept of him. Until now.

These views are mine and mine alone. They are not necessarily shared by the other FHF.

Red Fisher wrote the article I had intended on posting yesterday, but as I have been fighting a busy week, he beat me to the punch. And I thank him for it, because with it he has obliged me to delve deeper into the issue of violence.

I won’t make any firm accusations here. My legal background entices me to know better. I will speak out, however, against a trace of rage that Patrick Roy has left behind him at various intervals of his life, not only as a hockey player, but as a man.

We often times offer our heroes the sort of blind eye that attaches a sense of entitlement to their swagger. We elevate them to a super status where anything goes, as their improbable feats, achieved in professional arenas, forgive their indiscretions. We are quick to forgive, and often times are reluctant to punish at all. And we do so for the wrong reasons; enamored by the amazement we once felt in marveling at their achievements, we choose to dismiss the darker side of the individual, as if we have decidedly rejected anything that could tarnish that pristine image of our favorite stars and the creation that was hatched out of our imaginations.

Yet, these athletes are no different from anyone of us. Where they display their genius within the confines of an adoring platform on the sports field, others, unknowns, show their amazing skill in the offices of little start-up companies, in non-profit charitable organizations, behind the counters of our restaurants. They are judged by our social measuring stick, with indiscriminate justice, applicable to all, never above the law, never protected by the impressions that throw a quilt over our superstars and blanket them from what our legislators had intended for our communities.

The genius demonstrated in sport should never silence our protest of the athlete’s transgressions. In Roy’s case, there have been far too many, with stories of violence and uncontrolled emotion that have inflicted harm more often than anyone should be held liable for. Because once is once too many. Roy’s list of shameful gestures is a long one; a man aggressed in a parking lot, another attacked in a bar, a coach abused in his office, a wife afraid in her home, an unsuspecting child drawn to criminal violence, misguided by Dad. Other acts that have not seen the public light of day must also be compiled in a somber list, somewhere in his mind.

This highly unsound behavior is not just at the wrong end of the moral spectrum, it is a series of criminal acts that have gone unpunished and that have yet to leave the faintest, yet rightful, blemish on his persona. The first one may come in the form of a denial of immortal recognition as plans to lift his number may be grounded forever. If anything has vilified Patrick in the eyes of Montrealers, it was his unceremonious exit off Forum ice, ejecting himself from the team’s historical womb. Of all the controversy he has surrounded himself around, that antic was probably the most harmless of gestures he can be held accountable for. Of all the sanctions he could have merited, the abortion of a number retirement ceremony amounts to one within the realm of insignificance, for an icon who has eluded both the ire of the public and the severity of the law.

Off-ice violence. A raging temper. We must reject them. We must all heighten our awareness towards aggression. If we do not denounce it and frame it in its proper context, in the receptacle of all things wrong, we will have abdicated our moral authority and our civic responsibility as dutiful citizens of this community.

I don’t have the facts. I don’t know what goes on in his home, nor in his head. I’m not certain what he meant or intended, in gesturing to his son from the bench. I can’t measure his level of responsibility over what the young Jonathan decided to do, which was to commit a crime and harass the crowd in a jubilant demonstration of pride over his abominable actions. But there is an amount of responsibility. I suspect the fiber that ails the Roy family has been passed on from father to son, because these patterns are not improvised by a teenager, suddenly, out of thin air. The apple gave the finger, with the tree, verbally abusing the officials, in tow.

It’s time to arrest an arrogance, once so splendidly channeled for example through a historic wink to a dejected Tomas Sandstrom, before more damage is inflicted. It’s time to take away the sense of entitlement Patrick has negotiated his life with, the entitlement we have all pumped him with, in our adulation of a man who simply stopped rubber objects from entering a small net for a living.

Of all the punishments he could be dealt, the permission to have his number worn by another is, as I’ve said, a minor one. But because I do think his actions warrant reprimand, I will stand amongst many who will no longer admire the 33 as they did before. That number will begin its descent from my imaginary rafters. And in the end, it will no longer appear next to my name. If 33 was my childhood hero, then let me say that I have grown up and have decided to take a relentlessly unforgiving stand against violence, be it emotional, mental or physical, at home, at work, anywhere. Time to bury the illusions I have had about the man who is, by no means, a Saint.

As of today, I will be correcting a small injustice that our little blog has committed in not acknowledging the person whose true grace and class we owe so much to as admirers of this fabled team. A man whose number is really worth going by: the incomparable number 4. Someone to be proud of.



lawyergirl77 said...

*standing ovation*

Well said, 4, well said.

On a personal note, the events that happened during his son's game aren't the only even which removed Roy from my list of hockey heroes, but it is the fact that it is the final disgusting event that told me to stop kidding myself that the guy wasn't simply someone who could be labelled as "emotional". The true label? Asshole and thug.

And I think it's fitting that your name went from a man who is such a vile ogre to a person who is the epitome of grace and class.

HabsFan29 said...

Welcome 4!

While I totally agree with you about violence, I will not forget that he was the 3rd greatest goalie in Habs history. He won us two Cups. Like Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, a big chunk of the NBA, and even Michael Vick, their off-field actions diminish their overall legacy, but not (in my eyes at least) what they accomplished on the playing surface.

Habsfan10 said...

Welcome HF4. An excellent choice.

33's talents were exceptional, and if we only went by his accomplishments in the bleu, blanc and rouge I would have no hesitation in raising his number to the ceiling. That's not how it works in this day and age. Fair enough.

I won't forget the original version of Patrick Roy, the gangly, quiet, talks-to-his-posts kid who stunned everyone with his performance in '86. The Patrick with the normal-sized pads, the head bob as he watched play at the other end, the fractured English and the goofy haircuts. I would have loved to have seen 15 years of that guy. We didn't get 15 years of that guy, and that's why I won't complain if the Habs keep 33 out of the rafters.

Anonymous said...

do u think its his fuckin fault. its all mario trembleys fault. he is still not a hab. cuz of that asshole we lost the greatest goalie everr. well about the fighting it was awesome habs fans would u wanna see lil roy in montreal hahah

HabsFan4 said...

Anonymous, I think you need an aspirine and a dictionary.

fezworth said...

I think what 'anonymous' is trying to say is; he feels that there is some complicity on the part of the then-head coach, Mario Tremblay, in Roy's departure from the team. In anonymous' humbly put opinion, the importance Roy's evident talent in goal should have been placed above the coach's authority. I believe 'anonymous' is particularly galled by the turn of events given Roy's eventual success in the professional ranks.

'anonymous' then goes on to intimate that he very much appreciates the vigour and 'zest for life' that was recently put on display by Jonathan Roy.

Put in this way, I'm sure we can all see that 'anonymous' is really stating a very reasonable and well thought out....

No, I'm sorry, I can't do it anymore. anonymous, piss off and go troll at HabsInsideOut.

Bravo, HF4. Looks like you're going to do a good job here.

lawyergirl77 said...

10 - it's the Patrick Roy that you described kept me clinging to the hope that his dickheadishness wouldn't overshadow his on-ice exploits.

I always hoped that the kid nicknamed "casseau" (due to the fact that he apparently used to polish off two steamies and a thing of fries prior to games) was in there somewhere. But I guess not...

And 29 - I see your point, but I think you retire jerseys (at least in Mtl) for more than just on-ice exploits, but also because of their contribution to the sport/organization. Part of that contribution is what he's doing with the Remparts now.

For me, it's not how he left the Habs that would keep 33 from getting raised to the rafters. I agree that it's as much Tremblay's fault as it is Roy's - they were both acting like spoiled fucking children that season. Rather, it's the idiot shit he's done since he got traded, which shows that what was happening off-ice wasn't an aberration.

Montréaliste1 said...

Tout à votre honneur.

On many bases, Roy's shirt does not deserve to be elevated to these gentelemen's rank. It would be a shame for habs' fans to have him up there.

As far as I'm concerned, Roy's overall limited heritage (he's a midget compared to no. 29!) can hit hwy 20 and gtf out of MTL. Stay in your little village (I fucking hate Q city).

PPP said...

A simply spectacular post.

Anonymous said...

Where is our game day thread?

HabsFan29 said...

anonymous its almost done

Chuck V. said...

Honestly, I can't argue with you on any of this. Much like you, Roy was always a childhood hero. Scratch that... to me he was a God. My buddy Phil and I used to collect everything of his and I can still remember how much joy I felt when my father surprised my brother and I on Christmas with 2 autographed Patrick Roy jerseys.

Right now, I'm on the fence as to whether we should retire his #, but I will tell you that I've never been so disappointed in a childhood hero. Sure, you can justify his spot up on the rafters with his impressive play and career statistics, but never his actions off the ice and definitely not his role in the Sags-Remparts game. Every time I hear of another despicable thing Roy has done, it's like finding out that Santa Claus touches little children.

Patrick you inspired a generation of youngsters (an even an ill-advised experiment at a positional change from RW to the nets from yours truly), but with your countless regrettable actions you've let those who used to regard you so highly down.

Anonymous said...

HF4, your words are not only poignant but also brave considering the forum you're addressing. Great piece and much respect for your newly apointed classy designation, 4!

baroque said...

Very well-put ... and very thoughtful. Many would just continue to make excuses instead of looking through grown-up eyes - that would be the less gutsy choice.

Senators Lost Cojones said...

Wow...just...Wow. Bravo HF4!

If ever I'm charged with murder in a country whose justice system is based on the Napoleonic Code...France...Haiti...St. Louis-du-Ha-Ha...I want your eloquence in my corner.

Scott in Montreal said...

Bravura post, HF4. If I may buttress your argument: Even without the violence and attitude, how many other retired jerseys sat on the shoulders of players who'd won just two Cups with the Habs?

Being one of two (with Turgeon) $ million salaried players on the team at the time did nothing to hold his ego in check. Spending several years in the land of thin air, gun culture and Columbine massacres obviously didn't do much to hold his violent tendencies in check either.

Navin Vaswani said...

excellent post. roy = douche bag

Loser Domi said...

Wasn't Johnathan Roy something like 3-7 in his last ten starts? Isn't he a subpar goalie to boot? If so, In find that makes this whole thing a bit more interesting

nu said...

Not that I think Roy is anything but a well-documented asshole with an undisputed history of violence, and the Q may not be the best place for him to exercise those prodigious talents, but I think I feel more disturbed that this wouldn't be getting anywhere near the amount of attention without the names involved.

The Chicoutimi coach was also held responsible and suspended for his players' conduct. Look at the CHL playoff news and you see other players on other teams serving suspensions - it's not a league of professional adults, it's a league of teenagers with poor judgement. IF this leads to any kind of revising of the rules, it's pretty sad that Patrick Roy would be the reason why.

And yeah, it's also disturbing that his son is on his team in the first place. Is it because no other team would have him?