Thursday, September 24, 2009

Adieu a Breezer !

New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens 2c3un-vaan5l Defenseman Patrice Brisebois has decided to call it a career.

The 38-year-old announced his retirement today after eighteen seasons in the NHL.

Brisebois spent the summer as an unrestricted free agent, but no teams picked him up.

He then learned that he was receiving the Jean Belivieau Trophy from the Canadiens. At that point he decided to make the announcement.

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Patrice Brisebois tearfully announcing his retirement Thursday – Getty Images

“When Donald (Beauchamps) called me to tell me that I had won the trophy, I was very excited and very happy,” he said. on learning that he would receive the award. “Mr Beliveau is one of my idols.”

“It was a great honour. I decided that maybe it would be the right time. That’s why I am here tonight.”

Sporting his 1993 Stanley Cup ring, which he had not worn in sixteen years, Brisebois tearfully thanked his wife Michelle and his two daughters as well as former coach Jacques Demers and former teammate Kirk Muller, both who were in also in attendance, Thursday afternoon.

A second round pick of the Montreal Canadiens, Brisebois played all but two seasons in the bleu, blanc et rouge.

Brisebois signed a two-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche in 2005 and returned to Montreal for the 2007-08 season.

He played his 1000th NHL game on March 14th, becoming the eleventh player to accomplish the feat while wearing a Habs uniform.

Senators Canadiens Hockey Patrice Brisebois receives a silver stick, marking his 1000th career game, from Henri Richard in April 2009

In 1009 career regular season games, he tallied 98 goals and 322 assists.

His 896 games ranks third amongst Canadiens defensemen all time, and ranks fifth in points (371) and fourth in goals (87).

“I’m very proud of what I did,” he said.

Brisebois will receive the Jean Beliveau Trophy prior to Thursday’s pre-season game against the Boston Bruins.

The Beliveau Trophy is decided on a selection committee, comprised of members of the Board of directors of the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation. The committee evaluates the candidates according to the effort, enthusiasm, implication and time invested in both collective and personal initiatives. They also evaluate their commitment, leadership and financial assistance to the causes close to their heart.

Brisebois was a candidate for the award last season.

Comments from his former teammates can be found on the Canadiens website.

Brisebois certainly had a love-hate relationship with the fans on Montreal who were sharp to criticize him on his defensive play with nick names such as “Breeze-by”.

Nonetheless it was clear that he was a competitor who refused to give up and played several games with key injuries. A thousand games proves that coaches and GMs saw taht he could bring something to the tale.

Brisebois also brought one of the humorous moments for Habs fans during the Heritage Classic.

And of course, anyone who mixes it up with Darcy Tucker deserves all respect!

All the best to you Patrice! Thanks for the memories!

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