Saturday, October 10, 2015

Francis Bouillon Jersey Card

In a move that flew under the radar around the NHL, Francis Bouillon announced his retirement last month, after three stints with the Montréal Canadiens interspersed with two with the Nashville Predators.

He may have stood small at 5'8'', but his 200 pounds of pure muscle ensured he would never be taken lightly in his own zone; he was a decent talent offensively with an okay shot and accurate, sharp passes, but it was his flawless defensive play and hard, clean hits that ensured him of a job at the top level for the better part of 15 years, in addition to his last year in Switzerland and the minor-league hockey in the IHL and AHL before he was an NHL mainstay.

He's the type of hard worker that Montréal fans respect while they play (he was never booed by the tough hometown crowd) and revere when they retire. This guy will always be welcome with standing ovations at the Bell Centre and will never have to pay for a meal or drink when going out on the town.

He played for head coach Michel Therrien four times, starting with the 1995-96 Granby Prédateurs, the mid-to-late-1990s Fredericton Canadiens, and the Habs both at the the turn of the millennium and from 2012-14. They were perfect for each other, with their rugged, no-nonsense approach.

Here he is wearing the Canadiens' white (away) uniform with both Centennial shoulder patches, from Upper Deck's 2009-10 Series 1 set (card #GJ-FB of the UD Game Jersey sub-set), featuring a blue game-worn jersey swatch:
He wore #51 for most of his tenure in the NHL except the last two years with the Habs, as it was taken by David Desharnais, ironically as a tribute to Bouillon, who had inspired him when growing up; for those two seasons, he wore #55. He has an arena named after him in my area, in Montréal's East end, where I sometimes volunteer as a goaltending coach to youth teams.

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