Mixin' knuckles, chuckles

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

Andre Roy has been walking on eggshells ever since a very public blowup with Tampa Bay Lightning coach John Tortorella put an early end to his 2007-08 season.

Even throughout training camp, his teammates hadn't seen the full spectrum of Roy's personality.

Now, though, the 33-year-old Calgary Flames enforcer is coming out of his shell.

"Slowly, I think I'm adjusting to the guys. At first, I didn't want to come in just as a clown," said Roy, who entertained his former teammates in Tampa, Pittsburgh and Ottawa with off-the-cuff jokes and great impressions of other NHL personalities.

"In Banff, I got to fool around a little bit. I think, this weekend, some of the guys got to see a little bit of my personality. I've tried to bring that since I've been playing. It's part of me, and I think once in a while it's good to have that in the room."

His wacky personality is the reason players rallied to have Roy around the team in Tampa, even after a display of disobedience led former Bolts head coach Tortorella to scratch Roy for the final month of last season.

The quick wit his fellow players love him for is closely connected with the quick temper.

"With the role I do, I have to be fired up. I have a lot of stuff going through my mind, but sometimes, I have to control it in a way," said Roy.

"In the past, I've had some issues, some situations I'm in where I probably went out a little bit too far. I just try to keep it in control.

"It's not easy, for sure."

After being dropped to the ice when Philadelphia Flyers tough guy Riley Cote connected with Roy's jaw, the livid 6-foot-4, 230-pounder had to be restrained by Tortorella.

Rumoured to be part of his repertoire of funny-bone tickling antics is a great impersonation of his former coach, who was fired by the Lightning at the end of last season.

Having moved on from the unfortunate episode, Roy doesn't talk about Torts but says he learned from the Cote incident.

"I'm a guy, my ego, I've got to sometimes step on my ego. What I've learned from that is you're going to win some and lose some. Me, sometimes I have a hard time accepting that. I think that's what happened there in Philly," Roy recalled.

"Now that I think of it, Riley Cote did his job. He caught me on the chin there. I was pissed off. I think what got me going was mostly the replays on the scoreboard.

"The fans didn't help behind the bench, and me not getting another shift, at that time, I was in a moment where I was pissed off.

"I've moved on. It was just a fight, and there'll be more in the future -- that's the way I see it.

"I learned from those experiences. Same with (former Maple Leafs tough guy Tie) Domi back in the day. A lot of chirping. There was that rivalry with Ottawa/Toronto, so it was pretty intense. It gets like that sometimes.

"Once it's over, I've got to learn to control my emotions in the right way."

When Roy joined the Flames as a free agent, some friends voiced concern Mike Keenan might be a little too much like Tortorella. Roy hasn't seen any similarities and wasn't about to let that influence his decision to head west.

"It's not what you hear," said Roy, who plays guitar after games to unwind. "He's really fair and honest with the guys. It's been fun."

How Keenan will use his enforcer remains to be seen. Eric Godard didn't dress often last season, but the Flames didn't see him as an every-day contributor.

Roy might be able to punish opponents in more than one way. He's got soft hands for a fighter and showed quick reflexes to pot a rebound goal in the pre-season.

"Ten goals one year in the show," whispered Roy, jokingly bragging about his 2002-03 season with the Bolts.

But he wasn't always a goon.

Roy averaged a point per game in his last season as a junior in the QMJHL, splitting his time between the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and Drummondville Voltigeurs.

Thirty-three goals, 54 points and 323 penalty minutes was his output in 1994-95, when he played in 54 games.

"When I was younger, I always scored not bad and liked to put the puck in the net. When I came to junior, I was a big kid -- well, a tall kid -- and I got picked on. I didn't want to look like a guy that was backing up, so I started fighting," Roy said.

"I tried to mix the goals and the fights, tried to copy kind of Wendel Clark, Cam Neely, that type of style. Those guys were unreal.

"As I made my way up, I started fighting more, so I was more categorized as a fighter.

"But you need to play. It's such a fast game."


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