Friday, August 03, 2007

Brisebois: The return

“This is an amazing day for me. What else can I say? I’m back with the team that drafted me and my family couldn’t be happier to be coming back to Montreal. I feel like a little kid. I even taped my sticks up yesterday I was so excited.”
There are actually a lot of UFA defencemen still left in the summer bargain bin, so it's an interesting call that GM Bob Gainey is going back with a player who was essentially run out of town before the lockout.

The Habs certainly had a need for another offensive-minded defenceman with both Sheldon Souray and Craig Rivet having flown the coop, but Brisebois? At 36 and coming off of a terrible, injury-riddled season, it's anyone's guess what sort of a contribution he'll be ready to make next season, and you can bet the notoriously prickly Canadiens faithful will be all over him for any missteps along the way.

Montreal's defence looks to break down like so next season:

Markov - Hamrlik
Bouillon - Dandenault
Komisarek - Brisebois
Gorges - Streit

Mark Streit doubled as a forward late in the year and will probably fit into that role again, and Gorges's playing time was quite limited after he came over in the Rivet deal from San Jose. Still, how well does this blueline stack up with the one that struggled at times as part of a non-playoff team last season?

It looks like a minor downgrade, depending on the season Roman Hamrlik has, and the team's burgeoning goaltending trio is going to have its work cut out for it this season. Montreal allowed the third most shots against in 2006-07.

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At 10:41 a.m., August 04, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rumoured to be 700k.

At 2:38 p.m., August 04, 2007, Blogger Jeremy said...

I mean... I don't know. I've never been to a Canadiens game, or Montreal at all for that matter, so there are many things I don't understand about the sordid tale of Patrice Brisebois.

But it just seems to me like Habs fans are setting this guy up to fail time and time again. I'll buy the argument that he makes gaffes at a higher rate than most blueliners, but to turn each bobble of the puck, each giveaway, each poor read into a traumatic event that inspires howls of anguish and self-flagellation really seems bizarre and excessive to me. If Komisarek had received the same treatment as a rookie I don't think he'd be the same today. By that I mean the guy would be in a bloody mental institution.

Is it because Patrice is a hometown boy? Is it because he has that unfortunate, nickname-ready surname? Has the perception of his play taken on a life of its own in this case, or is he just that crappy of a player? Could someone from Montreal please explain this phenomenon to me?

At 5:11 p.m., August 04, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

Jeremy, it was because he was expected to do too much on the worst Habs teams in team history (the tail end of the Houle era). He was a #1 when at best he was a #3/4 guy, and was no match for opposing top lines. Being a hometown boy helps when things go well, hurts when things don't go well. Really, if things don't go well, Montreal fans will get on anybody that is struggling, where they're from doesn't matter (see Kovalev, Alex from last year). Breezy's is particularily memorable because of the period in which he was a Hab, his salary ($4m per year pre-lockout), his workload, and his nickname. I think his ethnicity has little to do with it, frankly.

It was unfair to put him in that situation. I don't like the move, because in reality I think our current top 6 are all better blueliners than Patrice is now (Streit as a blueliner is much better than Breezy, for example).

And for my team to allow less shots, James, it helps losing Souray and replacing him with Hamrlik for sure, but it really has to be a total team effort. Last year we had only 3-5 defensively responsible forwards, one of whom was a rookie callup (Lapierre). We lost 2 of those guys (Bonk & Johnson) and I think downgraded in the defensive forward department with Smolinski & Kostpolous taking those spots, so it has to be the existing personnel that steps up. Higgins & Koivu in particular need to be MUCH better (and can be), and Ryder, Kovalev, Kostitsyn, and Latendresse need to at least step up from last season's efforts, though no one expects them to be stalwarts in their own zone. If Streit plays forward, that'll help that group, but I still feel he offers much more as a slick puck moving d-man.

I think our top 3 of Markov, Hamrlik, and Komisarek will see a lot of minutes next year... maybe up to 24-27 minutes a piece.

By the way, Patrice's deal is $700k plus another $700 in bonuses, for a $1.4m cap hit at least to start the year.

At 5:54 p.m., August 04, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed, I'm sure Larry Robinson would have laced up the blades for $1.4 million

At 7:33 p.m., August 05, 2007, Blogger Jeremy said...

Hey saskhab, thanks for putting things into perspective. Come to think of it, a (somewhat) similar situation occurred here in St. Louis over a decade back. The Blues traded fan favorite and goal machine Brendan Shanahan for some lanky defenseman named Chris Pronger. He was still developing at this point, but was expected to make an immediate contribution to justify the cost paid for him. There were some rocky years after that, but eventually Pronger found his Norris/Hart winning form, just in time for the Blues to trade him for assorted shrapnel (which Pronger trade was worse, d'ya think?).

The difference with Brisebois is that he never met those #1 expectations. I'd imagine if the same had happened with Pronger, yet the Blues kept lugging him around as spare baggage, there'd be some lingering animosity toward him. Makes sense!

At 9:21 a.m., August 07, 2007, Blogger PPP said...

In tonight's performance by the Habs the part of Pylon, previously played by Sheldon Souray, will feature Patrice Brisebois.


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