WINNIPEG - Jimmy Roy always hoped he would find his way back under the umbrella of True North Sports and Entertainment, but not even he could have imagined joining the Winnipeg Jets front office at the age of 35.
The longtime Manitoba Moose forward was officially unveiled as the director of player development on Thursday and the Sioux Lookout, Ont., product can’t wait for the next chapter of his hockey career to begin.
“I was unsure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to be involved in hockey because it’s kind of in my blood,” said Roy, who is the franchise leader in games played, goals and penalty minutes for the Manitoba Moose. “Whether I’m on the ice or off, I still have that competitiveness to eat, breathe hockey. For it to work out this way is a dream come true for me. It’s very rewarding. I never expected to be working in the NHL at this age and in this role.”
Roy, 35, knew he wanted to stay involved in hockey, but that didn’t mean it was easy to hang up the blades.
Until last month, Roy was planning on returning to the Iserlohn Roosters of the German elite league for a sixth season.
However, when the opportunity with the Jets presented itself, it was simply too good to pass up.
“This is another stage of my life and I want to make the most of this opportunity and do the best job,” said Roy, who signed a one-year deal. “It was a very, very tough decision and I’m still trying to come to terms with (retirement). It hit me a couple of weeks ago when I went back to Germany to clean out my house.
“I was in the locker and guys were getting their sticks ready and then it hit me that I’m never going to do this again.”
Roy joined the Moose in 1996-97 and became a fan favourite during his nine seasons in antlers. Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was familiar with Roy from the heated rivalry the Moose and Chicago Wolves shared, since the red-headed winger was often in the middle of the fray stirring things up.
“I admired his feistiness and he was someone that each and every time the Wolves played the Moose, he was a guy you had to be cognizant of. He played the game as hard as you can possibly play it,” Cheveldayoff said. “It was very important that we had a person who embodied how we wanted our players to become. Someone who worked extremely hard and had to kind of fight and claw their way to the top of the professional ranks.”
Roy will work with players throughout the Jets’ organization, essentially from the time they’re drafted or signed as a free agent.