The hockey men and the players were not there, sanitary measures oblige, a few hours before the opening of training camp and the new season which is fast approaching.
For the occasion, the golfers who had paid the big price to contribute to the jackpot of the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation played with members of the Alumni Association.
Among them, there was Patrice Brisebois and Stéphane Richer. Both are aging well. Brisebois crossed his fifties in January and Richer, who is twice a grandfather, turned 55 in June.
The vagaries of the profession
These two understand what Jonathan Drouin has been through over the past few months.
They may have had it even harder, since they were also booed by the Montreal crowds, Richer at the time of the Forum and Brisebois at the Bell Center.
The former defenseman did not need to watch the two interviews Drouin gave on Monday night on television to find out how he may have felt during the five months in which he isolated himself from the public.
He too experienced anxiety and insomnia when things were wrong with the Canadiens.
“When that happens to you, you feel lonely,” he said over breakfast on the chalet terrace.
“Looks like everyone’s against you. You don’t feel up to it and you are vulnerable. When you are a talented player, you know you have to make a difference and make the team win.
“It’s a huge pressure, but it’s part of the job. You have to live with it. “
It’s not easy.
Often, sleep eventually suffers.
“I spent sleepless nights,” continued Brisebois.
“I was wondering what I could do to help the team win. “
From heaven to hell
Brisebois enjoyed great success at a very young age. He returned from the 1990 and 1991 World Junior Championships with gold around his neck.
A few weeks after his second title, the Canadian called him back from his Fredericton club-school.
He never played in the American League again.
Two years later, he was 22 years old in the exhilaration of a Stanley Cup parade in the streets of Montreal.
It also meant that he was expected to help the Canadiens win the cup over and over again.
“But I liked that pressure, I wanted to show that I could make a difference and that I was one of the best. But that is not given to everyone, ”he added.
“What happens in Montreal is that when things are going well, it’s wow! We are not talking about salaries. As soon as the team loses, it takes a culprit. We ask why we do not win. It’s the fault of [Carey] Price, it’s Drouin who doesn’t perform.
“What we forget is that hockey is a team sport. The outfit of a team does not depend only on a player.
“The worst thing about bad things is after training, when you go home. We just think about what’s wrong. The hamster, turns, turns, turns, turns, worse turns! “
What had to happen has happened.
During a pre-game warm-up in Toronto in 2003, Brisebois suffered an arrhythmia attack.
“My heart told my brain that it was no longer able to take it,” said Brisebois.
In September of that same year, Bob Gainey, who had held the post of general manager of the Habs for three months, came to the defense of Brisebois by slaying, to use his words, the bastards and cowards who were hiding in the darkness in the heights of the Bell Center to scold him.
Brisebois felt a sense of liberation.
“It made me feel good,” he continued.
“Yes, hockey is your job, but it’s still a game. Before each game, I was like, ‘Breezer, have fun tonight’.
“When you play in the National League, it’s because you’re good. We know what to do. You just have to apply it, do it with passion and have good work habits. “
The guy who got booed
Returning from the long lockout that destroyed the 2004-2005 season, Brisebois went to play in the Colorado Rockies for two seasons before returning to Montreal to end his career.
“Even today, people ask me if I miss hockey,” he said.
“It was my life, my teammates were my family. Yeah, I’ve been through some tough times, but I just don’t want to think about it.
“People say: ‘Patrice Brisebois played 18 years in the National League, including 16 with the Canadiens. He disputed his 1000e game in Montreal, won the Stanley Cup, but he was the guy who got booed ”.
“That hurts. “
Before going to join his quartet, Brisebois had a thought for Drouin.
“I just hope he gets out of this and the world is going to support him. It’s the best thing we could do for him. ”