Roy cheers Eagle on

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:53 AM ET

ATLANTA -- The NHL's winningest goaltender took time out yesterday to praise Ed Belfour, the man who moved into a tie for second place on that prestigious list this week.

"He should be congratulated because it's quite a feat," future Hall of Famer Patrick Roy said during a phone interview. "It's obvious that if you reach that mark, you have to be a great competitor.

"That's the only way you can do it."

Belfour moved into a second-place tie with the late Terry Sawchuk by earning his 447th career win during the Leafs' 2-1 triumph over the Florida Panthers on Monday.

He will attempt to move past Sawchuk tomorrow when the Leafs play host to the San Jose Sharks.

It is unlikely that Belfour, 40, will reach Roy's mark of 551 career victories.

"I didn't keep playing because I tried to protect my record," said Roy, now the coach of the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. "I played because I still had a love for the game. And when I retired (in 2003) I did it because it was time."

Roy fondly remembers the many battles he had against Belfour, especially in the days when Roy starred for the Colorado Avalanche and the Eagle was with the Dallas Stars.

"I always knew I had to get up for the games when Eddie was at the other end," Roy said. "Even when Eddie had a so-so outing he had the ability to always come out very strong the following night.

"You have to be mentally strong to get that many victories."

Belfour smiled when informed of Roy's comments.

"I always had a lot of battles, a lot of competitive games against Patrick," he said. "I always enjoyed the challenge.

"They were always exciting games, exciting series. I definitely enjoyed them."

Can he catch Roy's mark?

"I'm not worried about that," Belfour said. "I'm just trying to stay healthy."


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