Saturday, 4 April 2020

The Need For Speed

If I asked you which NHL player who has won a Stanley Cup in his career now spends most of his time racing cars, you'd probably say Teemu Selanne. While not a wrong answer, there is another Stanley Cup champion who spends time on racetracks in trying to satiate his need for speed. As seen to the left with his iconic #71 car, the same number he wore in the NHL, former NHL defenceman Patrice Brisebois is trying his hand at auto racing in his post-playing days! While he wasn't the speediest man on the blue line during his NHL days, this new venture allows Brisebois to remain in a competitive sport while celebrating his love of cars.

"It's a great team sport, like hockey," Brisebois said of auto racing in 2009. "Your mechanic is kind of like your coach, and there's a game plan, race strategy, so it's a bit like a hockey team. I'm going to try and go as far as I can in auto racing. I'd love to be able to move on the Nationwide or Sprint series, but it's going to be very tough."

As you may recall, Brisebois won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1993 when he was just breaking into the NHL, but the Silver Chalice eluded him for the rest of his career spent mostly in Montreal, but a couple of seasons additionally in Colorado. Reaching the pinnacle of the sport is always a difficult thing to do, but, like his hockey career, it seems that Brisebois was willing to put the necessary work into being a better driver after buying a NASCAR Canadian Tire team.

In 2009, Brisebois raced in just two of 13 NASCAR Pinty's Series races, but both were important to him as he raced in Quebec. The first race he was in was the Circuit de Trois-Rivieres, and he did pretty well for a rookie driver. 29 cars were in the race with Brisebois starting in the 19th position, and he'd finish the race in 17th after completing 32 of 43 laps which led to him receiving a cheque for $1600. While he wasn't Ricky Bobby on the track in his first race, his improvement of two spots from his starting position is decent.

The second race in 2009 in which Brisebois partook was in Montreal at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The 34-car field saw Brisebois start in 15th position, and he'd finish that race in 12th spot after completing all 25 laps of the race. In his best finish of the year, Brisebois received an $1100 cheque as he showed well in his home province in the only two races he suited up for that year.

As you can see from the chart below, he remained loyal to the two races in Quebec where the #71 car was entered pretty religiously.
While Patrice Brisebois never found Ricky Bobby success on the track, he did get a chance to indulge his passions for cars and driving fast. The lure of the rink, however, brought Brisebois back to the Canadiens as he took a position on June 13th, 2012 with the Montreal Canadiens as GM Marc Bergevin named Brisebois as the Player Development Coach. Brisebois would remain in the position for a couple of years before resigning, but he found his way to the broadcast booth for TVA Sports where he was brought on as an analyst for Montreal Canadiens games.

His passion for cars and racing hasn't let up, though, as he's now using his time away from the rink to attend F1 races. He's seen races in places such as Monaco, Belgium, Abu Dhabi, Hungary, and Singapore, and he now owns a business that involves cars as the owner of Centre de l'auto ICI PNEU in St-Laurent.

"I'm learning a lot about that business and we're doing good," Brisebois told Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette last June. "I have good people working at the garage and loyal customers. It's a lot of fun. It's new for me, but so far so good. We're doing good and it's fun."

It's always neat to see what players are getting up to after their playing days, and it seems that Patrice Brisebois' passion for cars hasn't wavered despite his 18-year career in the NHL. I, for one, hope his business thrives and he can continue to provide great service to his customers.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: