Tuesday, September 16, 2008
It is strange how the things you think about during the daytime can translate into twisted dreams while you sleep.
I don't, for a moment, imagine that any readers out there are as compulsive and perhaps as obsessive as I, when it comes to thinking about the Canadiens 24/7, as I often do.
Maybe you can relate, but that's a scary thing!
Perhaps I should blame this one on my friend Ian, who was kind enough to offer me a seat alongside of him for the Habs game on November 22 - the night Patrick Roy's jersey will be retired.
Unfortunately, I had to pass this one up, but I went to sleep with this game on my mind.
In thinking about the career of Patrick Roy over the years since he left the game, there have many times where I pondered what could have been, if things had played out different regarding his departure from the Canadiens organization.
Too points I that always stayed with me were that he left the game too soon, and that his infamous exit from the Habs didn't follow the script his achievements foretold in Canadiens uniform. The latter point is moot now, but on the other, I felt Roy had perhaps three or four good seasons left in him when he hung the pads up after the 2002-03 campaign.
I gather these points were subconsciously playing out in my mind in the dream I had last night of Roy's jersey retirement.
Dreams are often very fractured works of imagination. Unreal, yet twisted by reality, facts, and abstract detail. I've had some very vivid dreams (as well as nightmares) over the years, and I find that if I wake up slowly, as opposed to suddenly, a good portion of what I was dreaming of stays with me.
In this case, in regards to my Roy dream, I woke up with a pretty solid retention of what I had running through my mind as I slept.
Of course, it was all incredibly weird, but I guessed it was worth sharing, if only for the simple notion of how the dream played out in the end.
In retelling this, I hope you will understand that I am adding a little creative licence to the details. Consider it puddy in the cracks of the tale. I doubt myself, that I awoke having dreamt every thread of detail I'm about to write, but for some reason, it was all sitting right there on my brain the moment I awoke.
My dream begins in the first intermission of the game against the Bruins, on November 22. The ceremony for retiring Roy's jersey did not happen prior to the game. Fans in the stands, and in the corridor's of the Bell Centre, were musing about why the Canadiens would choose to raise his number after the game, rather than prior to it.
A person seemingly in the know, summised that it was because the ceremony was lengthy and the clubs did not want the game delayed. Others said that it was for television coverage reasons. Either way, fans were discussing that it seemed an odd way to proceed, given all the anticipation of the night.
When the second period began, someone sitting next to me asked me what Jaroslav Halak's number was. I replied that it was 41, and asked why he wanted to know. The fan then told me it was because he did not see him at the end of the Habs bench, nor in the corridor next to it.
Checking to see, it in fact was still Carey Price in goal!
Where could Halak be?
The persons sitting below us became involved in the conversation, and asked if we had heard the rumour about Roy.
"What rumours", I inquired.
The fan laughed, in a mocking kind of way, as if to taunt me with the information he hesitantly withheld while play on the ice resumed. At a commercial break, he turned around to fill me in.
"A rink manager in Quebec City has sworn up and down that he's seen Roy working out, and practicing in full goalie gear. The story is three weeks old, but no one gives it a second thought. A crazy fan I guess!"
"Why would he be working out and practicing", I countered, unless it had something to do with the Remparts. He is their goalie coach, is he not?"
"Maybe, who knows?", came the fans reply.
I turned to Ian, shaking my head.
"Could it be part of the ceremony?", he asked.
"Maybe, he's planning on stopping pucks as a part of it. Wouldn't that be cool!", I said.
Into the second intermission, more chatter had grown about this Roy sighting and the absense of Halak. Suspence was mounting because of the odd coincidence.
(Ever notice that dreams are filled with these!)
Just prior to the start of the third period, the Bell Centre lights dimmed, and attention was focused on the jumbo screen at center ice. There, a short one minute clip of Patrick Roy's career highlights sped across the screen.
I missed it, but the same clip had played during the first intermission, I was told.
The clip froze on a shot of Roy, Stanley Cup proudly hoisted high. It was 1993!
Time stood still for a good 20 seconds before the image gave way to Canadiens president Pierre Boivin, in what looked to be a live cast from the Canadiens dressing room area.
Owner George Gillett, Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau and Boivin were milling about improvisingly it seemed, before settling in line side by side.
The big screen panned inward to Boivin's grin, as Roy, in full gear and legendary mask, parted the four men.
Simultaneously, Boivin spoke as a hush of confusion reigned over the Bell masses.
"The Montreal Canadiens would like to announce the signing of Patrick Roy to a contract!"
A second of stunned silence, and the Bell Centre erupted in a mess of cheers and befuddled glee.
Every face around wore disbelief!
"Is this a joke?"
Before a shred of sense could be gathered in all this drama, the image above gave way to Roy marching forward, towards the ice.
The noise peaked to shreik levels, spotlights ran circles on the ice, and pandemonium mesmerized the crowd as Roy, followed a spotlights guide, and strode to the goal crease.
"Is this for real?", I heard myself repeat more than once.
"This is crazy, absurd!", said another voice.
Roy scraped the ice with his skates, from one post to the other. Back and forth, shoulders bouncing with pronounced purpose.
"No way!", I laughed, "This is just nuts!"
Around me, jaws were slung and eyebrows raised as the official dropped the puck to start the period. Montreal had a one goal lead.
The play headed into the Boston end, and within seconds, there was a whistle. Thirty-three seconds had elapsed, almost like it was planned. Roy skated to the Canadiens bench.
"That was anti-climatic", I thought, but then Roy skated back out to his crease.
All during this time, the crowd stood cheering, "ROOOOUUUUAAAAAA!, ROOOOUUUUAAAAAA!, ROOOOUUUUAAAAAA!"
It went on for minutes, the play never entering the Canadiens zone. It was as if the players were giving their all to provide Roy with a lead. The cheering dipped in intensity as the Bruins iced the puck.
The crowd seemed confused as to whether it should sit or stand. People sat down, then stood up again, and sat down once more.
Everyone rose in unison, when a Boston winger came down the side. He fired at Roy the moment he infiltrated the blue line, and Roy made a casual glove save - nothing unlike he'd done a thousand times before.
The Canadiens cleared the zone quickly, but then the play returned to their end, leading to a whistle.
Roy skated to the bench, and Carey Price retook the crease to a thunderous, but completely confused applause for Roy.
"ROOOOUUUUAAAAAA!", the cheers continued.
The official hesitated to drop the puck, knowing the cheers could last a bit longer than he wished.
Surprisingly, Roy skated out after the next whistle, and regained the crease. Price and Roy continued to alternate at each whistle for the balance of the period
Towards the completion of the third period, a Bruins defenseman, while killing a penalty, iced the puck into the Montreal end. Roy left the crease hesitantly to play it, but upon realizing he skated into the goalie's no play zone, froze for a second before turning back.
Unfortunately, the iced puck seemed to hit a rut, and it scooted and skipped past a plunging Roy into the abandonned goal.
Murmurs and rolled eyes were heard and seen, mixed with a faint boo or two.
Roy though, stayed put, and banged the paddle of his stick on the ice. As if on cue, the crowd chanted.
Price did not return for the final 90 seconds of the tied game. Overtime, Roy's specialty, beckoned!
A fan below me, in french exclaimed, "Sapristie! Y vont-u allez avec vieux trou'd cus d'in nets?"
Overtime began, and Roy looked pumped. In fact all eyes seemed on him, even though the Canadiens spent a good 30 seconds attacking in the Boston zone. I hadn't noticed, I was eyeing Roy's every gesture myself!
I really couldn't believe I was seeing him there! Still, it had to be Halak in Roy's jersey - a kind of tribute, maybe?
Then, in a split second it happened!
Michael Ryder, former Hab and newly minted Bruin, jumped on a loose puck and burst down his off wing. It looked like he was about to cut in on the Canadiens defenseman, when he unleased a wicking and rising wrist shot.
Roy reacted slowly. It caught him right in the mask!
As Roy dropped to the ice, Ryder made a pair of extra strides, seemingly to check on his condition.
Before anyone could react, a two on one break at the opposite end resulted in the game winner.
A pregnant pause preceded one hell of an uncorked cheer!
Hearing it, Roy looked up, almost leaping to his feet. He began jumping up as though he had won another Stanley Cup.
The Canadiens bench emptied like a flood gate, pourring towards Roy.
Bruins players even milled about, waiting to congratulate him, while inquiring about the noggin shot.
In all the excitement, the three stars went unannounced!
Quickly Bell Centre hands went to work to transform the ice for Roy's jersey ceremony.
I couldn't help think, "What would have happened had he lost!"
In a matter of minutes, the scene on the ice was prepared and the guests walked out in the dimmed lights, guided, to seat and place themselves. A highlight clip ran overhead once more.
The ceremony began. Jacques Demers, Pat Burns, and Jean Perron - all coaches he played for except one - alternated reading text until Roy emerged.
The chanting rained down on a proud, but silly faced and slighty embarrassed Roy. It continued as he attempted more than once to begin reading from a prepared page before him.
Finally Roy raised his hand and began to speak. He started in english.
"I want to thank Mr. George Gillett, monsieur Pierre Bovin, my captains Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau", he stuttered a step, "I want to thank you for welcoming me back into the Canadiens great family"
The place was silent.
"This night...", he paused and let out a nervous giggle.
"If I could do my...." he paused and swallowed.
Just then, from the hush of the building, a far off fan echoed down, "Bon match, Pat!
The place broke up! The laughter and cheer of the building overtook Roy's crooked, ready to wisecrack grin.
Another round of "ROOOOUUUUAAAAAA's seemed destined to shower down, when Roy spoke, pointing to the CH logo on the ice before his podium.
"Now", he started, "I can finally say this right"
"Now.....I have just played my last game for Le Canadiens de Montreal!"
Of course, this is where I had to wake up!
Just like those darned other good dreams I have.
Always waking up right at the good part!