Fans of the Komets didn't get a chance to say a proper goodbye to Marco Roy after he was unceremoniously traded to the Idaho Steelheads last summer.
As rare as it is to let a player of Roy's caliber go for almost nothing, it's even more unlikely you get a chance for a do-over. But the Komets signed Roy again last week, further solidifying a roster already packed with potential stars.
“Obviously I was a little surprised when (the Komets) traded me because I'd been playing well and I liked it there,” said Roy, who was dealt to Idaho on June 13, 2019, to fulfill an earlier trade for Justin Kea, whose stint with the Komets had lasted only 23 games of the 2018-19 season.
“I'm not mad at anyone there. That's why I came back. It's business at some point and now they've got my rights back. I'm excited for this new chapter, just coming back and trying to win. For sure, my goal is to get a Cup there. But it was fun in Idaho; it was a different vibe, a different mindset there.”
Roy, a 25-year-old center, had 10 goals and a team-leading 50 points in 55 games last season for the Steelheads. It's not yet apparent why the Steelheads let him go into free agency, though Roy had told the team he preferred to play closer to his Montreal home. It could be that Roy's agent agreed to steer a comparable player in Idaho's direction or that the Komets will compensate the Steelheads with a future player.
Regardless, having Roy, a second-round draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers in 2013, gives Fort Wayne an impressive nucleus that includes 2018 ECHL MVP Shawn Szydlowski, captain A.J. Jenks, Anthony Petruzzelli, Matthew Boudens and Kyle Haas.
The season is scheduled to begin Oct. 16 at Indianapolis.
“Oh, I really liked Idaho. The team and the coaching staff, everyone was so nice there,” Roy said. “The fans, too, though they have less people than Fort Wayne. It was always fun, the city was nice. Nothing was wrong, it was just a little too far for me for the next step of my life.”
Roy and his girlfriend are expecting a child in January. And returning to Fort Wayne gives Roy a chance to play for head coach Ben Boudreau, who was an assistant coach in Roy's two previous seasons with the Komets. The relationship between Roy and Boudreau goes back to Roy's rookie year, 2015-16, when Boudreau was assisting the Oilers' ECHL affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia.
“It's like black and white together,” Roy said. “If I don't like something, I tell him. If I like things, we talk a lot. We talk a lot about what we want on our team, about players, and how we want to play. We're close and it's good business together. He's a friend. But when we're at the rink, it's his job and it's my job. So it's a relationship where we trust each other and know what to expect from one another.”
Roy is expected to produce points and play solid defense, to win faceoffs and block shots, and to provide leadership after he was an alternate captain in his previous Fort Wayne stay.
Roy totaled 29 goals and 74 points in 74 regular-season Fort Wayne games between 2017 and 2019. He had two goals and 13 points in 24 playoff games, helping Fort Wayne to Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference finals.
He knows a big paycheck awaits when he decides to play overseas, which could be in 2021 if the coronavirus pandemic settles down, but he wants to win his first Cup in North America before making any such move.
“Obviously, with the COVID right now, it's kind of hard and that's why I signed on with Fort Wayne – to get out there and have a good season and, after, make the move to Europe,” Roy said. “I'm not saying I'm going to leave right away; you never know what could happen. But that's pretty much the plan for my career.”
To help Fort Wayne win a Kelly Cup, he knows he'll have to be multifaceted and reproduce some of the efforts of the 2018 playoffs, when he was often the best player on the ice despite having torn ligaments in both knees and being in so much pain he could barely stand.
“Obviously, I'm always trying to get better in every aspect of my game,” he said. “I'm trying to do my best every game and produce on offense and also, like you've seen, block shots and stuff like that.”