By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

I had dinner with Patrick Roy's lawyer the other night, and we spoke of many things -- including Hockey, slander, the finer points of Trout Fishing, and the incredible beauty of Roy's goaltending in the NHL playoffs.

Roy (pronounced "Wah" by most French people), was not at the dinner, due to his urgent involvement in the Western Conference finals between the Colorado Avalanche and the unhappy St. Louis Blues, who trail 3-1 in the series, which resumes Monday night in Denver.

I will not be there, thank God, but many of my good friends will. They are serious hockey fans, and I hear no end of wildly exciting "hockey stories" from them.

Patrick Roy, for instance, was arrested in October on investigation of misdemeanor criminal mischief during an act of domestic violence in some kind of spat in his home, when the ever-alert Denver Police yo-yo's burst into the house and hauled Roy off to jail. It was a hideous scandal and the newspapers played it big. Roy was harassed on the street by women of all ages and all temperaments, cursing him and calling him names that are far too obscene to repeat here.

Denver is a very bad town for suddenly being stigmatized and gossiped about in the usually churlish media. Once word got out that Hockey's most famous Goalie and the Avs' only hope for winning the Stanley Cup had been busted and cuffed and whacked into the Arapahoe County Jail, hundreds of Denver lawyers started sniffing and pawing around this stupid little incident, clawing like dung-beetles at every loose end that might be a reason to sue somebody. Their behavior was disgusting.

Patrick Roy
Patrick Roy overcame all the early-season controversy, and he now has the Avs on the verge of the Stanley Cup finals.

You don't have to spend much time in Denver to understand there is a distinctly Hyena-like quality about the People. Indeed, the troubled history of Denver suggests very strongly that these people have an overweening habit of turning savagely on each other, given even the vaguest excuse or cheap reason.

Back in the lawless years, it was cheating and raping, and Lynch Mobs of Armed thugs roamed the streets, searching for people to Punish. The Zeitgeist of Denver in the 1870s was much like the Rape of Nanking. Murder and Torture were routine in even respectable business circles. ... Abe Lincoln might have freed the Slaves in Virginia back in 1864, but Slavery was widely practiced in Denver until the end of World War I.

(It still exists today, in fact -- but that is a very long story and we don't have time for it now.)

The Patrick Roy story is also quite long. ... But, in a nut, he was publicly shamed and humiliated in the Press and on TV for many weeks, even while driving back and forth to the Pepsi Center for practice. He was miserable, and his wife cried constantly.

The most vicious and relentless attacks came from his one-time Friends at the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News, who published long anti-Roy tirades, describing him as a Criminal off the Ice, and a Loser on it. A "hockey expert" writing for the News said Roy was clearly a "Shot goalie" and should be given a Bus ticket out of town immediately. "Our Avs can't possibly win a Stanley Cup with this Geezer at the net," they said. "He'll embarrass the whole town of Denver."

Click here to buy Hunter S. Thompson's new book, Fear and Loathing in America : The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist.

Meanwhile -- back to the Present -- the case against Roy was dismissed in January and the Avs continue to roll along through the playoffs. They are now just one victory away from taking the ice for another Stanley Cup final. Ho ho, eh? And they are doing it without their star scoring forward Peter Forsberg. ... The Hyenas put up a stink about that one, too. Now we are Really Doomed," they whined. "WHY US? Why do we have such "bad luck" in Denver?"

Luck? Oh no, never in hell, bubba. The nature and fate of Denver is far more than a matter of "Luck."

(Whoops! Let's cut that one off right now. Some stories are Too long.)

If Patrick Roy is "Lucky", then so was Michael Jordan. ... I will not predict the outcome of the Avs-Devils series, because I have given up my oddsmaker's job. It was becoming oppressive. Hell, if my name was said to be known in Denver Gambling circles, the League would frown on my budding friendship with Patrick Roy, and I don't need that.

We are, after all, Professionals.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's books include Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex and The Rum Diary. His new book, Fear and Loathing in America, has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," appears each Monday on Page 2.