by Adam Wazny

Amidst the panoply that a Montreal Canadiens jersey number ascending to the heavens involves, Mike Keane will be front and centre.

Well, maybe not front and centre. More on the wing, actually.

After captaining the Manitoba Moose to a 4-1 win over the San Antonio Rampage at MTS Centre last night, the Winnipegger is scheduled to jump on a plane this morning so he can be on hand when Les Glorieux retire Patrick Roy’s No. 33 jersey at the Bell Centre tonight.

It will be the first time the former Habs captain will witness the pomp and circumstance of a Canadiens jersey retirement. Keane was in Grand Rapids when Bob Gainey saw his No. 23 raised to the rafters last season.

“It’s not too often you get to witness history,” he offered yesterday. “It’s going to be exciting to see some of the old players and old teammates, and it’s a chance to catch up with Patrick a little bit.”

Like Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski are tied to Wayne Gretzky in his 1988 move to California, Keane is forever linked to Roy thanks to a blockbuster trade. He joined the Hall of Fame goaltender in the famously bitter deal that sent the pair to the Colorado Avalanche for Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky, and Andrei Kovalenko on Dec. 6, 1995 — days after a memorable chapter in Canadiens history.

Roy’s departure was the stuff legends are made of — allowing nine goals in a half-game disaster against Detroit, feeling like he was being humiliated, glaring daggers at his head coach (Mario Tremblay) upon getting the hook, and making his way to team president Ronald Corey to mutter those certain, cold words with the TV cameras rolling:

“It’s my last game in Montreal.”

Keane was wearing the ‘C’ at the time. The little one, closer to the shoulder.

Usually the captain is the bridge between the player and the coach; an ombudsman who is just as tuned into the coaches’ office as he is with the dressing room. Keane said no one around the club was surprised when the trade went down.

“It just escalated so fast, there wasn’t much anyone could do,” he recalled. “During the game, we (players) were on the bench wondering what was going on, why is Patrick still in there, but there was nothing said. It just took a life of its own and everyone knew it was big.

“As for me, I wasn’t really shocked (about being a part of the deal). You could kind of see it coming. There were rumours and rumblings about me for a while.”

Keane laughed when asked if Roy apologized to him for the collateral damage inflicted from his last days in Montreal.

“No, but it’s funny, ” the 41-year-old began. “We were teammates in Montreal but we never became friends until we got traded. We bought houses beside each other in Denver.”

And won a Stanley Cup, too.

courtesy of The Winnipeg Sun


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