Who could of guessed that the former #43 blueliner would receive an ovation in his first game back with the Habs on home ice in 3 years? Not even Patrice himself could of anticipated the warm welcome, and it leads to the conclusion that there’s more love in the air on the streets of Montreal this season.
Seemingly, when the Canadiens are winning, there’s more smiles, “bonjour” greetings are a dime a dozen and Montreal night life is as vibrant as ever. Habs victories make this city sizzle, which ultimately leads to merciful ovations.
When Bob Gainey signed the 36 year-old Patrice Brisebois for a casual $700,000 after not grabbing any big name free-agents on the open market this past summer, he was scrutinized by Montreal fans and media. Justifiably so, the criticisms thrown at Gainey had some validity, the anticipated signing of a much needed power forward remained elusive while the surprising signing of a former fan irritation occurred. However, as time went on and it finally sunk in, it was understood that Patrice was more of an insurance policy for the Habs, a familiar veteran that would step in when needed and teach the younger defenceman a thing or two in the process.
Surprisingly, this wasn’t the case. Head coach and former teammate of Brisebois Guy Carbonneau decided to make the new no.71 a top 4 defenceman. A questionable decision nonetheless, with talented rearguards Mark Streit and Francis Bouillon on the back end. It is still premature to judge whether the move by the Habs bench boss is a good one but so far the one called “breezer” is hanging in there.
In his first 3 games with the Habs this season, Brisebois has 1 assist, 2 shots, 2 penalty minutes and is +2. Patrice is also averaging over 18 minutes of ice time a game. It’s no secret that Carbonneau has confidence in the 16 year NHL veteran and if Brisebois can continue to play a simple game without making mistakes, he may continue to be a regular on the blueline.
With all this being said, it still came as quite the shock on a cold October Saturday night in Montreal, that 21, 273 fans roared and applauded for a man who has received an abundance of abuse from this city in the past. It’s a sign that Montreal fans have a soft side, that their actually forgiving and more times that not, live in the now. If this really is the case, Patrick Roy’s jersey should be raised to the rafters and if anyone deserves an ovation, its the 4 time stanley cup winner.
Congratulations to the city of Montreal for embracing Patrice on a night that I’m sure he wasn’t looking forward to. It showed class and optimism, characteristics that fans in Montreal are not exactly known for. Taking this into consideration, if Patrice’s game starts to slide, that’s a whole other story.