Friday, August 10, 2012

Patrice Brisebois: 7 Autographed Items (Part 1)

Wednesday was a good day, despite being too sick to go to work. Instead, I was here to greet the postman for this Derek Stepan card and these 7 autographed Patrice Brisebois items, all signed in black sharpie with his jersey number tagged at the end:
Much has been said about Brisebois' career, particularly with the Montréal Canadiens, and especially the end of his first stint with the Habs as he was constantly booed every time he hit the ice and didn't score, mostly because two journalists thought he was (grossly) overpaid. At the end of the day, though, more than 1000 NHL games played, a Stanley Cup, two World Juniors gold medals, a CHL defenseman of the year award, three Memorial Cup finals (including an All-Star Team nod), over 600 career NHL points (for a defenseman...), and eight 30-point seasons (and those in which he didn't were injury-plagued) speak for themselves: he was a fine hockey player.

Perhaps not always in his rightful position (it did take the Habs trading Éric Desjardins and Mathieu Schneider to make him the team's #1 defenseman where he would have been fine at #3 with some powerplay time), but always giving everything he had, constant (good for a point every other game), honest, courageous (you'd have to be to be able to step on the ice knowing half the arena expects you to be the team's scapegoat)... in any other town he would have been one of the team's legends.

But in The City Where Hockey Legends Are Made, with the most Cups, the most Hall Of Fame players, 8 of the 10 best goalies of all time, the most media scrutiny, and two cultures (French Quebecers and Anglo-Canadians) who for a century almost only shared a love for hockey, a 'risky' top defenseman was going to get called for the mistakes he made in his own end. I think even Paul Coffey and Brian Leetch would have faced the same critics.

And yet he still managed to have some decent plus/minus seasons, with +10 (1995-96, the year Patrick Roy left at mid-season), +16 (1997-98) and +17 (2003-04).

The biggest gripe against him was probably that, at 6'2'' and 210 lbs, he avoided physical play. So? Size doesn't dictate willingness to get hurt. I fondly remember games at the Philadelphia Spectrum where Saku Koivu, who is probably shorter than his listed 5'10'', would be the only Habs player willing to hit a Flyer, and he'd go toe-to-toe in the corners with none other than Eric Lindros. Many tall guys prefer a slicker game than a rough-and-tumble one. I'll tell you this much, until the arrival of Andrei Markov, no Canadiens player could pass like Brisebois, and he was one of the team's fastest players.

Onto the cards...

His true rookie card is this one, from Upper Deck:
He's sporting the Team Canada jersey at the World Juniors. It's card #454 of the 1990-91 Upper Deck collection. He was wearing jersey #24 at the time.

The next two cards are also considered by some as rookie cards, although they come a year later:
The card on the left is from Score's 1991-92 Score Canadian set (card #272), while the one on the right is from UD's 1991-92 Upper Deck set (card #442, Star Rookie sub-set). He's sporting the #43 jersey he spent most of his career wearing, on the Habs' red (away) jersey.

I also have a #43 in the white jersey to show:
It's from Topps' 2002-03 O-Pee-Chee set (card #41).

(continued in the next post)

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