Roy out of Olympics

Patrick Roy values Stanley Cup rings more than Olympic ones.

Which is why the Colorado Avalanche goaltender plans to pass on a second Olympic experience next February.

Roy backstopped Team Canada at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, but announced late Wednesday that he will not compete for a roster spot for the 2002 Winter Games.

Though Canada missed out on a medal at Nagano, Roy was an impressive 4-2 with a 1.46 goals-against average and considered the top candidate to start in goal again at Salt Lake City.

"I was there before and it's certainly going to give a chance to another guy to play," Roy told reporters following Colorado's 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders at Nassau County Coliseum.

"It's very simple. I wanted to take that time to prepare for the playoffs, for myself to have a good playoffs and finish the season strongly."

Roy was instrumental in the Avalanche claiming their second-ever Stanley Cup last spring.

He also captured a pair of Cups with the Montreal Canadiens, as a rookie in 1986 and again in 1993.

Roy revealed that Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky "accepted my decision," when informed via telephone early Wednesday.

"There's no conflict at all between any people on Team Canada and myself. It's just a personal decision."

A 36-year-old veteran of 17 NHL seasons, Roy was one of four goaltenders invited to Canada's three-day orientation camp in September.

The others were Ed Belfour, Martin Brodeur and Curtis Joseph, now considered the front-runner to start for Canada at Salt Lake.

"Patrick Roy is entitled to make any decision that he wants," Joseph said. "He's done enough in hockey that, whatever decision he makes, he's got a reason for it."

Final Olympic rosters need not be declared until Dec. 22, however, leading to speculation that Roberto Luongo might be added to the mix.

Sean Burke, who tends goal for Gretzky's Phoenix Coyotes, is another name being bandied about.

"When you look at the quality of goaltending there is, I have no doubt in my mind that they'll do really good," Roy said.

Roy's 491 regular season wins are the most in NHL history.

He also holds league playoff records for games played (219), wins (137), minutes played (13,542) and shutouts (19).

Ironically, Roy's shocking announcement comes at a time when he is playing his finest hockey of the season.

Roy was named NHL player of the week on Monday after posting three straight shutout victories over the Minnesota Wild, New York Islanders and Brodeur's New Jersey Devils.

He is 7-9-1 with a sparkling 2.01 GAA and .927 save percentage for the defending Stanley Cup champion Avalanche so far this season.

By comparison, Joseph is 11-6-2 with a 2.18 GAA and .910 save percentage.

Brodeur is 8-9-2 with a 2.65 GAA and .894 save percentage, while Belfour is 6-7-4 with a 2.42 GAA and .909 save percentage.

"I don't necessarily ask people to accept my decision but, at least, respect it," Roy said.