October 4, 2008

Patrick Roy: Winning, Nothing Else by Michel Roy

The most anticipated hockey book the 2008 is now on store shelves. Patrick Roy: Winning, Nothing Else, translated by Charles Phillips, is the English release of the 2007 French mega hit Le Guerrier, which literally translates into "The Warrior."

Buy the book: Amazon.ca - Chapters - Amazon.com - E-Book

Interestingly, this book is an initially reluctantly authorized biography. Roy himself says he never saw the need for the book in the first place, turning down several writer requests.

But his father insisted it was a good idea. Once Michel Roy began working on the text, Patrick found himself increasingly more welcoming of the project. Yet French media reports from 2007 suggest Patrick only cooperated for the project, and never oversaw any of it. This book is truly a father's story about his very famous son.

Reliving a hockey superstar's life through the eyes of his father is intriguing enough, although you have to wonder about any hidden agendas here. You also have to wonder if someone so close to his subject can deliver an impartial analysis.

At the French book's release in 2007, Michel said "I wanted to present Patrick as he is. I think that the image that people often have of Patrick is not the real picture of Patrick. He's not like that."

For all his hockey greatness, Patrick Roy does have a bit of a tarnished public image. His temper is almost as famous as his glove hand, and has gotten him into trouble from time to time, both on and off the ice.

"Events were reported without being properly researched or else people wanted to be a little sensationalistic. I wanted to defend the truth."

Michel, a high ranking bureaucrat in Quebec government, was uneasy with that image. He wants his highly visible son to be seen as he sees him.

As far as I know, Michel Roy wrote the thick 500 page book all by himself. Without the help of a writer I was not expecting much, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by Michel's writing ability. My ignorance definitely underestimated him. The book flows easily and quickly and Michel has a great descriptive voice and understanding of setting the scene.

That being said I was disappointed to not get a deeper, more critical look at Patrick Roy the person. Perhaps a father can not see his own son the way a disconnected observer can. Michel does a good job talking of Patrick's youth and development into a young man, and of course into an elite goaltender. But I really wanted more insight into what made Patrick so driven to succeed.

And while Michel covers all of his son's controversial moments, he falls short in coming up with commenting on them profoundly. For example, when talking about Patrick's arrest in a domestic disturbance case that led to his divorce, Michel does not get analytical about the dysfunctional family life for all those involved in relationships with a professional athletes.

But I do not think that was ever Michel Roy's intent. For him, this book isn't about the bigger world of hockey or even bigger world of society. He presents the more controversial incidents just as he knew them to have happened, and basically leaves it at that.

This book is simply about a boy who became the greatest goaltender in the history of hockey. The quicker the reader realizes that this book is about exactly that, and nothing more, the more enjoyable the read will be.

There's a lot of good trips down memory lane for us hockey fans, and Patrick's struggles though minor and junior hockey can only make you admire the goalie more.

As for Patrick, he gave this project his blessing in hopes that his biography will encourage young people to realize their dreams.

There are a couple of photo inserts in the book, for the most part showing the usual pics - Roy as a tiny kid in front of a huge net, Patrick with his dad, and some pro pics including Patrick, now a Habs hero, posing with an adoring young goalie who aspires to be just like Roy. That young goalie's name is Jean Sebastien Giguere.

Buy the book: Amazon.ca - Chapters - Amazon.com - E-Book


Anonymous,  November 23, 2008 at 12:42 PM  

I just finished reading it. While the story and all the inside scoops were great (which, I think, is what most readers want to know anyway: the untold story), I was disappointed in several ways. One: the translator obviously hasn't translated many books before. Many statements and words are literally taken out of the French vocabulary and passed off as English. Calling a hockey game a hockey "match" (the French word for it) and talking about the hockey "partisans" (the French word for fans) are a few of several instances of poor use of vocabulary. It's like when you hear a French Canadian go to a fast food joint and order "deux hot-dogs all-dressed avec un pepsi" (English Canadians will identify with that). Reading this book was really like having a casual conversation with a French Canadian, which is not what you look for in a book. I was also disappointed with the fact that, being a French Canadian, Michel Roy shows his obvious bias for the Quebecois athletes at the expense of objectivity. He mentions several times that the Canadiens should have put more focus on having French players to promote the team as an identity to the people rather than encouraing the team to do what it really should do: win. He goes on to encourage certain moves made by the Habs to do that (which in reality were really bad moves from a winning perspective) as being the right thing to do because of the French background of the story. Referring to mediocre players such as Pierre Turgeon as being a "prolific goal scorer"(when Turgeon was never exactly an all-star) only heightens his obvious bias for the French-Canadian "culture" instead of making him look like an objective writer.Many people in the French-Canadian media forego being objective in order to make their "culture" look perfect, and they especially do that with their athletes and celebrities. This book, in that sense, was like an over-extended media article about Patrick Roy. A lot of the facts were there, but the story was not told objectively. Patrick Roy is the greatest goalie of all-time, and telling his story as it is would have been more than enough. But Michel Roy's obvious bias toward his culture takes away from what could otherwise have been a great story.

rolly,  March 5, 2013 at 10:57 PM  

I agree with the comments made by Anonymous on November 23, 2008. Mr.Roy should have left the story of one of the best goaltenders in history to someone more objective. If you want to talk racism try being a Native Canadian growing up as a goaltender in Northern Ontario in the 70's. "Savage Noir" was the term of the day and it was worse in Quebec in the tournaments I participated in.

Mr. Roy, everyone loves your son if they are a fan of hockey. It doesn't matter who you cheer for.(I'm a Boston fan). There is no need to taint his image with your Quebecois racism toward the country to get the point across.

Patrick your the BEST!

Book was good when the author remained objective.


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