ANDRE ROY RETURNS TO TAMPA READY TO CONTRIBUTE WITH HITS AND SMILES
Andre Roy's grin was spread from ear to ear as he stood in the hallway of the Tampa Bay Lightning dressing room after morning skate. Roy was in familiar territory and it seemed he could barely contain his enthusiasm as he prepared for his first game back in a Lightning jersey. Roy had returned "home."
After being acquired from the Ottawa Senators in March, 2002, Roy spent a little more than two seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning. While those two seasons were enough to earn Roy his first Stanley Cup and create special bonds of friendship, the lockout and new CBA meant that Roy would be on the move.
Signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins prior to the 2005-06 season, Roy found himself battling injuries and playing with limited ice time on a young Penguins team. A third of the way through his second season in Pittsburgh, he had been put into the lineup for only five games - it was time for Roy to move again.
As luck would have it, around that point the Lightning had been looking to add not only some toughness to their roster, but were looking for a character player. Knowing from experience that they could find both of those characteristics in Roy, Tampa Bay grabbed the forward off of waivers in early December.
"It was never our intention or our desire to lose Andre Roy in the first place; however, when the new CBA was put in place we knew that in a salary cap world we could not afford to match what some teams were going to be prepared to pay Andre and thus we lost him to unrestricted free agency," General Manager Jay Feaster said. "Having lost him we never regained that tough, physical, gritty element that Andre brings. Now, for the first time, the new CBA has helped us in that through re-entry waivers we have been able to bring back a very important player to our hockey team at a salary and cap hit that make sense."
"We are thrilled to have Andre back and look forward to what he will bring to the team both on and off the ice."
On the ice, Roy brings a sense of toughness that can change the pace of a game. Within his first three games Roy had two fights, including one on his first shift back in a Lightning uniform. The crowd roared as Roy took on Buffalo Sabres tough-guy, Andrew Peters, appreciatively welcoming him and his known style of play back into the St. Pete Times Forum.
Even so, Roy realizes that his primary duty is not just to be a fighter. While Roy may not be afraid to drop the gloves, he also knows that his effectiveness on the ice lies within his ability to be a physical presence. Roy understands that he will be expected to finish checks and create energy while moving the puck on the third and fourth lines.
"Well, my game's been always [about] bringing energy, bringing that physical presence," Roy said. "I talk with Torts about [not always] just going in and fighting, but it's part of my game. I go out there and finish checks. Obviously, I know the situation if I have to stick up for a teammate or just try to change the game around, but today's game is not about fights anymore. It's basically go out there and if it happens, it happens, but it's more bringing energy, physical hitting and keeping the puck forward... and making the guys laugh."
Making guys laugh is just one of the trademarks of Roy's infectious attitude. Known for being a jokester, Roy is famous for being able to put an entire dressing room into a fit of laughter. As his former teammates know, whether Roy is singing at the top of his lungs or doing impressions, chances are that his upbeat personality is going to loosen things up.
Contributing to that upbeat personality is the return to Tampa. For Roy, the opportunity to come back is a welcome trip down memory lane. Aside from winning the Stanley Cup here, Roy is enthusiastic about his return because of the familiar faces and friends in the organization.
"It's just a place that I've played before and the guys, the area is great," Roy said. "I loved my time here and obviously got a chance to win a Stanley Cup which, coming back I have all these memories of when we won here, so it's just great to be back, I'm so excited."
"It's great, it's changed a little bit, but like I said all these memories from being here," Roy continued. "I had a great time while I was here, a great bunch of guys. Obviously there's still about half the guys from when I left, so it's good to see."
Coming back to such a familiar setting is something Roy feels will help with the transition back onto the team. Aside from already having friends on the roster, Roy immediately felt welcomed as people from the media to locker room attendants stopped to say "Hi" and drop an encouraging word about his return. Not only has Roy been touched by those acts, but it reinforces his feelings that it seems as though he's barely been away from Tampa.
"It seems like it's been about two, three years? Whatever, I don't even know, but it feels like yesterday, it seems like I never left," Roy said. "I'm just excited putting that jersey on again, going out there and playing here. I feel pretty comfortable already being here."
With a smile, Roy reinforces the idea that he's feeling comfortable when discussing his dressing room antics. Although there are plenty of familiar faces, it doesn't mean there aren't new teammates who need warming up to Roy's practical jokes. True to Roy's fashion, he hasn't wasted any time showing his personality.
"I'm trying to work it in a little bit slowly, but I already started a little bit," Roy said with a smile.
As new teammates start to experience the fun personality and old teammates welcome it back, Roy can be expected to contribute to the team both on an off the ice. Bringing a physical presence to each game, whether via hitting or even a drop of the gloves, Roy has the ability to act as a player who can change the pace of a game.
And while he may naturally cut up the dressing room with jokes and pranks, one thing Roy is obviously serious about is that he's just happy to be home.