Goalie Roy Aims for Victory Mark

Tuesday, October 17th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) — Sports fans love a great chase.

Mark McGwire's pursuit of Roger Maris was a boon for flashbulb makers everywhere. When Walter Payton eclipsed Jim Brown's NFL rushing record, there was no bigger story in sports.

Patrick Roy's collision with history seems almost anonymous by comparison.

When Roy won his 447th game to tie Terry Sawchuk's career victory record Saturday, he was feted mainly by media in Colorado and received obligatory highlights on ESPN.

Before Roy and the Avalanche left for Washington on Tuesday, he took part in a national conference call and met with local reporters, but his milestone week has lacked the media crush typically associated with a record chase of this magnitude.

It begs the question: Is Roy's accomplishment appreciated outside the hockey world?

``I hope so,'' Colorado forward Chris Drury said. ``To me it's right up there with Hank Aaron breaking home run records. It's unbelievable. I have all the respect in the world for baseball players. They play every day, but the physical grind of hockey, there's nothing like it in the world.''

While hockey is treated with religious fervor in Canada, it remains behind baseball, football and basketball in the United States. Wayne Gretzky helped narrow the gap, but Roy is not as widely recognized in America.

``I think definitely in Canada where hockey's been a sport for a long time, they definitely recognize what Patty's achieving,'' Avs forward Adam Deadmarsh said.

``I think what he's accomplishing is something we may never see again. It's sports history. Any sports fan that likes hockey or is involved in any sports definitely acknowledges the fact that this is a great accomplishment.''

Colorado coach Bob Hartley said it's easy to take Roy for granted as he adds to his victory total, and he believes recognition will increase once Roy hangs up his pads, glove and colorful mask.

``I think that's maybe one sad aspect about sports,'' Hartley said. ``Once they're done, you can really evaluate their career and see how good they were and how they dominated their era.''

For his part, Roy has not allowed himself to become enamored with his own achievement. He celebrated quietly with his family and teammate Ray Bourque after Saturday's victory, and he repeatedly has expressed his respect for Sawchuk, whose 21-year career ended when he died at age 40 in 1970.

``Being (tied) with him and where I am, it's fun and it's great,'' Roy said. ``It gives you a chance to maybe appreciate more a player that I probably never saw play.''

Roy will have family and friends in attendance when Colorado (3-0-2) tries to extend its unbeaten streak against the winless Capitals (0-3-2), but his three children will not make the trip.

If Roy is unable to take sole possession of the record against Washington, his next chance likely will come Friday at home against the Florida Panthers. Colorado plays at Columbus on Wednesday night, giving Hartley a good chance to rest Roy in favor of rookie David Aebischer.

``We decided to take this situation game by game,'' Hartley said. ``We're very confident and our mandate right now is to go into Washington and win it for Patrick and win it for us.''

Roy's historic run has been somewhat of a reunion tour. He beat former protege Marc Denis to tie Sawchuk and could face former teammate Craig Billington on Tuesday. Billington spent three seasons as Roy's backup in Colorado.

``I know with Billington in the net, he's going to want to have a good game against his old team,'' Deadmarsh said. ``We know where to shoot on Biller from practice, and hopefully he's got the same holes.''