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Patrice Brisebois Takes "Multi-Sport Athlete" to a New Level

Christopher Leone@ChristopherlionSenior Analyst ISeptember 25, 2009

MONTREAL- MARCH 14:  Patrice Brisebois #71 of the Montreal Canadiens waves to the crowd during a play stoppage when he was honored for playing in his 1000th career NHL game at the Bell Centre on March 14, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Devils defeated the Canadiens 3-1.   (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

In the tradition of Michael Jordan, former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Patrice Brisebois has retired from one sport in order to pursue dreams in another.

The 38-year-old defenseman, who played for the Habs for 16 seasons of an 18-year career, announced his retirement on Thursday, in order to pursue dreams of a NASCAR career.

Currently, Brisebois is looking for sponsors to join the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, which has seen the likes of top racing drivers such as Jacques Villeneuve, Alex Tagliani, and J.R. Fitzpatrick in recent years.

We've all heard of actors dabbling in auto racingโ€”Patrick Dempsey and the late Paul Newman come to mind. We've also heard of the multi-sport athletes, with Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders having long careers in both football and baseball.

But no professional athlete has ever attempted to make the career switch to auto racing in the way that Brisebois wants.

The only name that comes to mind, actor or athlete, of somebody who made auto racing his only focus is Frankie Muniz, and from his story, Brisebois should take caution.

Muniz was invited to Long Beach in 2005 to participate in the annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, placing first amongst the competing celebrities. The next year, he signed a deal with Jensen Motorsport to run in Formula BMW, but failed to score any points.

Despite his poor 2006 performance, he was moved up to the Champ Car Atlantic Series for 2007. Despite completing most of the season's laps, he could only muster a best finish of ninth and wound up 22nd in points.

2008 wasn't much better; despite a smaller field, Muniz only finished 11th in points and had a best finish of ninth in the last race of the year.

This year, Muniz sits eighth in points, with a best finish of fourth at Miller Motorsports Park. However, he missed the series' last round at Mosport, and only 10 competitors have run most of the season.

Brisebois should have no problem attracting sponsors for an initial run in the Canadian Tire Series next year, especially from Canadiens supporters like Bell and Molson, but he must be wary that the learning curve is steep. Even Muniz had at least won a race before making the jump; we have no idea of anything Brisebois has ever done in a racecar.

Granted, stock cars and open-wheel cars are two different animals, but the lack of lifetime conditioning can easily kill Brisebois' dream. Perhaps ownership would be the better route for the defenseman, but regardless, he should count on plenty of fan support when the series heads to Quebec as a hometown hero.

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