Before getting traded, if you go by just being a regular player on the team, did you know that Derek Roy was the longest tenured Buffalo Sabres player? Yup, with Hecht more than likely gone and Miller only starting 18 NHL games before the lockout, Roy played 49 games during the 03/04 season. Funny, but I can still recall my first Derek Roy moment. I couldn't do that with Vanek or Pommer. For whatever reason, Roy's first moment for me sticks out.
It was during the last few weeks of his rookie year when the Sabres were making one of their early (Heroic) runs to the playoffs. We were playing Atlanta (When they had a team) and the Sabres needed to win in OT to keep their faint playoff hopes alive. Derek Roy raced down the right side against a defender backpedaling. The D-man didn't give any room for Roy to make a move around him, so Roy just flipped a backhander towards the goalie and it went in. Simple and painless.
Too bad the rest of his career didn't go that way.
I gotta admit, I didn't think the Sabres would trade him.
We had been going on year 10 of trying to trade this guy it felt like. But he's gone. No more "Derek Roy sucks c#ck" that I used to hear once a week on WGR postgame shows before the host dumped the caller. No more picking relentlessly on the guy. No more reporters insinuating that he was hated by other teammates and coaches without going on record with them. It is gone now. When I think about Roy, I think about a guy who at times would put up solid numbers, but it was never enough. His style of play just didn't jive with Sabres fans. It might have been the stories about his off the ice escapades or the fact that Buffalo fans want tough guys.
Don't get me wrong, he deserved a lot of this. He whined, he was a diver, he didn't listen to his coach, he turned the puck over and he just had something unlikable about him. Maybe it was the haircut or the drunk photos on line. He'd be like that guy who would roll into a party who was a friend of a friend and you just didn't like him cause he smiled at everything. Even if he tried being nice to you and buying you drinks, there was just something icky and annoying about him. He was like a frat guy at the end of the day and once you reach 25 as a person/fan, you kind of think those guys are tools.
Honestly though, I think it was more about winning than anything else.
Roy was the guy the Sabres brass said was a top 10 center in the EC and the guy who was replacing Drury/Briere. It didn't help that the franchise kept saying he was a #1 center when he never was. When you say that to a fan base that has huge expectations for guys you parade around as #1s, they aren't going to forget. It is something that Cody Hodgson, Mikhail Grigorenko and Tyler Ennis will have to deal with soon.
He was suppose to be one of the next guys after the co-captains left. It was as if we were kids from divorced parents and mom got remarried to someone we just couldn't stand from the start because he wasn't our rich dad who spoiled us. The funny thing is that Roy liked it here. Sure, he hated Ruff, but he sure liked Buffalo.
Everyone has a Derek Roy nightlife story it seems like. Strange, but if you were to tell me that a Buffalo player would get 60-70 points, love the Buffalo nightlife and only cost 4-million bucks a year, I'd say he'd be a fan favorite.
Not Roy. Not ever. It also didn't help that he was going up against a coach who fans love.
It's just, we never really embraced the guy. 80 points? But you weren't Drury/Briere and you dived all the time. Rehabbed from a nasty injury to play in game 7 of the Philly series? Yeah, but we sucked and so did he. No Willis Reed treatment then. Maybe you stunk this year because coming back from a quad injury can slow you down? Nah. You are Roy and we hate you.
He was hated and never got any excuse from fans and myself.
Maybe the least popular Buffalo athlete over the last 5 years. Just wrong city, wrong coach and wrong player combination.