“Merci Mathieu.”

Last night (19/6/18) the Steelers team planning took an unexpected, in some eyes, change when forward Mathieu Roy announced that he was retiring from hockey. The French-Canadian winger had been expected to ice in the second of a two year deal but injuries picked up over recent seasons have caused him to reverse that decision and regrettably hang up the skates.

Mathieu Roy, or as I personally heard him announced at Dundee once “Mathew Roy” – Roy as in sounding like boy – is already a modern day Steelers legend. Not just for the goals he scored, but for the fact that this player always put his body on the line every night and every shift he took. The amount of bumps he took off opposing defencemen in front of the goal are too many to count, but for Mathieu that was part of his job and it was a job that he did to such good effect.

The Amos born winger first arrived in Sheffield in the summer of 2014 when Gerad Adams attracted him for his first period outside North America. Prior to joining the Steelers, Roy had spent the previous six seasons with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL; of which the last three were as captain. His perfomances there helped the Everblades to a Kelly Cup triumph in 2012. He already looked the perfect fit for the Steelers who had struggled to replace Joey Talbot who retired in 2011, and we weren’t disappointed.

In that first season, Mathieu racked up 100 points in all competitions which was a phenomenal achievement. Granted he had the benefit of being on the top line with fellow newcomers Michael Forney and Colton Fretter, but he always had the knack of being in the right place at the right time when the team needed a goal. Parking himself on top of the goalie’s crease, Mathieu developed the art of scoring what we call the “garbage goals” – picking up the trash and lighting the lamp with regularity. He was a winner already, and the Steelers benefitted with a league triumph to their honours board.

Could we keep hold of such a player, or would he scamper off as some thought to new challenges in Europe? Mathieu, if you look at his career, likes to put down roots and shortly before the play-offs were done and dusted: signed a two year extension. The league recognised him as well, naming him as their league MVP at the end of the season. Whilst he wasn’t as prolific in his second season, nobody really expected those numbers from season one to be replicated, he still helped the Steelers to back-to-back EIHL triumphs in 2015-16.

However he was starting to pick up a few bumps and these were causing him to miss games here and there. Mathieu was though, happy to sign a second extension at the end of the 2016-17 campaign and once more it was another two year deal. It certainly implied, and Mathieu said it in his farewell statement, that the forward was looking to finish his professional hockey career as a Steeler. But the injuries finally caught up and forced the decision which came last night which saddened us all. It certainly leaves another huge hole to fill as I’m sure that Paul Thompson was going to use Mathieu’s experience in addition to the youthful talent he has already recruited.

Yet there’s no use in crying over spilt milk as the saying goes, Steelers will find themselves a new Mathieu Roy who is ready to go to war and battle for his team, scoring the garbage goals and becoming a new hero. The King leaves us with an incredible record of 298 points in just 273 games which puts him 16th in the all-time list. A record that some players would give their right arm or leg for. We will miss him for sure, long live the King.

As the title of this article says: “Merci Mathieu.”

What’s your favourite Mathieu Roy moment, let us know…

Originally posted on: http://hockeybhoy.blogspot.com/2018/06/merci-mathieu.html?m=1

Posted with permission from Mark Duell.

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