By Mike Harrington
It's been more than 15 months since the Sabres traded Derek Roy, after he spent the first eight years of his NHL career with them. He returns tonight for the first time -- and, amazingly enough, Buffalo is three teams ago for the 30-year-old.
Roy signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the St. Louis Blues over the summer and will center the Blues' third line, between veteran Brenden Morrow and journeyman Adam Cracknell against the Sabres tonight in First Niagara Center. The Sabres traded Roy to Dallas for Steve Ott and Adam Pardy, and the Stars then sent Roy to Vancouver at the trade deadline in April.
Speaking to reporters today after the Blues' pregame skate, Roy said it took a while for him to overcome the disappointment of leaving Buffalo. In a meeting in June, 2012, Roy said he told former Sabres general manager Darcy Regier (doesn't that sound weird?) he wanted to stay.
"I had some unfinished business here, winning a Stanley Cup or at least making a good playoff run," Roy said. "I thought we had a great team but then a couple weeks later I got traded. It was tough. I wanted to stay here. I had a lot of good friends on the team and around the city. It was a great place to play and a great place to live.
"It was tough early on. with being here for so long, knowing all the players and knowing all the city. It was different going to a city where I don't know anybody or don't know the city or where I'm going to live. It was a tough change right away."
With a view from afar, Roy didn't want to say too much about the firings of Regier or Lindy Ruff, who was let go in February.
"It's a tough business. Guys come and go on every team," Roy said. "When things aren't working well, you start pointing fingers. I feel bad for those guys [his former teammates] right now. I didn't know what was going on behind those doors. For them being here for so long and to see a change like that was huge for the guys in the dressing room. To have Lindy your whole career for guys like Ryan Miller and Drew Stafford and then having to switch to a new coach is a big change."
Roy struggled with groin injuries in Dallas and was still bouncing back from major shoulder surgery he had after the trade (he didn't miss any games due to the lockout). He had four goals and 18 assists in 30 games in Dallas and three goals, three assists in 12 games for Vancouver before posting just one assist in the playoffs as Vancouver was swept by San Jose in the first round.
With the Blues, Roy has five goals and six assists in 19 games. He's bounced around, including a demotion to left wing on the fourth line, but is back in the middle tonight. Roy had a goal and two assists in a big win last Thursday against Colorado but that's the only time in eight games he's posted a point. The Blues enter tonight 13-3-3 and sixth in the West, but with at least two games in hand over every team in front of them.
"I've been bouncing around but I've found a home in St. Louis," Roy said. "I wanted to go to a team where I had the best chance to win the Stanley Cup."
When the Blues were here yesterday for practice, Roy joked he kept walking through the dressing room tunnel right by the visitors' room thinking he was heading for the Sabres' quarters.
He said hello to several former teammates today and said his best memory in hockey remains the 2006 Eastern Conference finalist team that lost Game Seven at Carolina.
Roy said he recalls being on an exercise bike after Daniel Briere's overtime goal in Game Six and being able to hear the screaming and stomping of fans as they left the building.
"It's a different thing to go against a team you played here for so long with," Roy said. "It's going to be mixed emotions. There are so many good memories in this arena."
Click below to hear audio of Roy's chat with the media today.
Photos: Getty Images
taggedDerek Roy | ex-Sabres | St. Louis Blues