Can Montreal Finally Close the Patrice Brisebois Chapter?
After the first game of the season, with the Montreal Canadiens losing their best player to injury for four months, arm chair general managers began proposing solutions. When top-six defenseman Ryan O'Byrne joined Andrei Markov on the injury list, the voices of the fans became louder and more panicked.
No worries. To the rescue came the Montreal media with their predictable suggestions: Bob Gainey should acquire Denis Gauthier, Mathieu Dandenault, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Bruno Gervais, Pierre Daigenais or *gasp* Patrice Brisebois.
Could they mean the same Brisebois who had just retired from the NHL after failing to be signed by any of the 30 teams? Were they talking about the same Brisebois who was mostly an embarrassment to watch on the ice last season?
As we know, Gainey signed Marc-Andre Bergeron as a stop-gap measure until his two blue-liners can return to the lineup.
Does this put all the "bring back Breeze" nonsense to an end? Let's hope so.
It is perfectly natural to convey nice things about a person when they retire from their profession. But this should not be confused with misrepresenting his worth to the organization at the end of his career.
While many inaccurately inflated the value of a merely decent defenseman in tribute, I believe that the reaction should be one of relief. Mercifully, after a career that was extended well beyond its talent level, Patrice Brisebois finally retired.
It was Brisebois who, out of touch with the degradation of his skill level, waited all summer for the phone to ring. There was no interest. Several times last season, it was written on these pages that the Canadiens were the only team in the league who would employ Brisebois. It would appear that view has been validated.
Brisebois' presence in the Canadiens lineup last year was not only a huge liability to his team, it also negatively affected the development of young defensemen like Ryan O'Byrne and Yannick Weber.
Guy Carbonneau's stubborn insistence on keeping Brisebois on the roster also led, in part, to Pavel Valentenko's return to Russia. Valentenko was frustrated that playing with the Canadiens had little to do with performance. Carbonneau was determined to help his friend Patrice reach the 1,000-game milestone with a blind eye to his atrocious play.
Let's wish Patrice Brisebois well in his retirement years. I only wish that it had begun eight years earlier.
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