The career of Patrice Brisebois has been a roller coaster that started with his selection (30th overall 2nd round) by the Montreal Canadiens on June 17th 1989. Two years later Brisebois won both the QMJHL the CHL Defenceman of the Year awards. Next season he spent the most of the year in Fredericton and did earn himself 26 NHL regular season games.
The following year was his first full season with Montreal and it would not be one he would soon forget. He played in 70 games, scored 10 goals and added 21 assists but that was nothing compared to what happened that spring. Brisebois helped the Canadiens to ten straight overtime wins and their 24th Stanley Cup.
After winning that Cup in 93 the Canadiens fell on hard times, poor decisions at the management level led to poor decisions in player movement, which forced Patrice into a role he was unable to handle. Patrice did very well on the second paring but when he signed a contract extension in 1999 with a 4 million dollar per year price tag expectations grew quite large as they have a habit of doing in this city.
In his first year with his new contract Patrice scored 10 goals and added 25 assists despite missing 28 games due to injury, Patrice also had a mediocre +/- rating of –1.
The following year was not so kind to Patrice and the Canadiens. Patrice managed to play in 77 games and he did lead all NHL Defenceman in power play goals but he recorded a +/- rating of –31 (the worst in the entire league). The Canadiens finished 11th in the Conference and by the end of the Season the Molson Centre “faithful” were serenading Patrice and the Canadiens with a nightly chorus of boo’s.
Brisebois was continuously tortured until late September 2003 when General Manager Bob Gainey spoke publicly calling the “fans” that were booing their own players night in and night out “gutless bastards, cowards and yellow”.
At the end of the 2003-2004 season Gainey decided to part way’s with Patrice nullifying the remainder of his contract with a buy out before the NHL would go on a year long hiatus due to the player strike. Patrice played 10 games during the lock out with the Kloten Flyers of the Swiss Elite League.
When the lock out ended Patrice returned to the league with the Colorado Avalanche, in his first year he played 80 games the most in his career but followed that with his most injury filled season and managed to play just 33 games. His career seemed as though it might be over with his lower body problems.
But in strange twist Brisebois showed the courage he was often criticized of not having and pursued Gainey to bring him back to finish his career in the city he loved. Gainey signed him to a one year deal barely above the league minimum with a chance of doubling it with some lofty (unreachable performance bonuses). Brisebois had a respectable regular season and even scored a goal and added 5 assists in 10 playoff games. His goal was a game winner in a 1-0 game over the Bruins in the 1st round. Gainey re-upped Patrice to a similar deal this year and now with Gainey at the helm after firing Carbonneau yesterday afternoon he will coach him in his 1000th game on Bell Centre ice this week.
So to those 21,273 that will be attendance on this auspicious occasion please cheer hard for number 71, not just because it is his 1000th game but because he hoisted the cup in June of 93, returned to the city not knowing how the crowd would react and most recently that he dropped his gloves with Darcy Tucker in Colorado in defense of Jaroslav Halak, even if he did just land one punch.
Here’s to your Patrice and lets hope you can score 2 more goals before all is said and done, getting number 100 on your 1000th would be even more special.