Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Breezer is Back!

All fans in Habs Nation are currently either pulling their hair out and screaming frustration, or welcoming back one of Montreal's most damaged hockey sons in recent years. Consider me of the latter grouping:

Yesterday the Canadiens announced the signing of Patrice Brisebois, who left 2 (3? Can't remember) years ago via free agency after the boo-birds at the Bell Centre made this guy's life so miserable, he developed an irregular heartbeat from their merciless treatment. Breezer, as he's called (or Breeze-by as the crueler fans call him), didn't exactly light it up in Colorado, with his (then) new team, and as his back problems acted up again, he only played about 30 games last season. Even so, Gainey has signed him to a one year, $700K deal, and he'll be used sparingly in Montreal on even-strength and saved mostly for time on the power play.

I'm happy to have him back for the following reasons:
  • We, the Montreal fans, always complain that no one wants to come play here. Well, here's a guy who does, even though he knows first hand how abusive and vile we can be all under the guise of our love of hockey
  • Last time Breezer played here, he was being used as the #1 D. And he's NOT a number one D. He was playing against the other teams' top lines. This time, Markov, Komisarek, Hamrlik and probably Streit are all above him on the depth chart, with even Dandenault and Bouillon likely to get more ice time on even strength if they play well again. Montreal's D is drastically improved from the corps that once included Patrick Traverse playing regular minutes. Brisebois will not be expected to play the hard minutes, and used in a limited role, he should be effective
  • The fans are constantly complaining that we don't have enough D who can make that first outlet pass. Last year, with the exception of Markov and maybe Streit, none of our D did it. This year, we've added both Hamrlik and Brisebois, who can. This is the key to getting out of our zone and getting on offense, so DON'T underestimate.
  • Our biggest (read: only) weapon on the power play (ahem, Souray) has gone and signed in Edmonton. Brisebois may not have Souray's crazy slapshot from the point, but he's always been a very effective power play point getter.
  • Our poor memories convince us fans in Habs Nation that Breezer had TERRIBLE defensive numbers his entire 14 seasons in Montreal. We go on and on about the -31 we all had to watch. In fact, this happened ONE season, the season he was played on his wrong side the whole year. Otherwise, he never came anywhere close to that level of disastrous Defensive play, and in fact, was reasonably adequate on D and quite solid for points offensively.

I hope other fans are willing to give him another chance when the puck drops this October. Those who bemoan the 5 steps backward the Habs have just taken by signing Brisebois should remember, this isn't Breezer at $4.5M a year playing first pairing minutes against the other teams' top lines, this is Breezer at $0.7M playing third pairing....

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