I'll admit right up front that I was never a Patrice Brisebois fan.
His brain-dead giveaways, attempts at checking, reluctance to put his body on the line and general lack of toughness overshadowed his assets on the ice, which were that he was a pretty good puck-mover, had a hard, accurate shot from the point and, well, that was about it.
But no matter how much I cringed whenever Brisebois jumped over the boards, I always felt that the treatment he received from the Montreal fans towards the end of his first incarnation with the Habs was never fair. To mercilessly boo a player on your own team made no sense to me, no matter how badly you wanted that player off your team.
"It hurts," Brisebois said of the boos. "I don't know an athlete who can honestly say he doesn't care when it happens to him."
But that booing was largely based on his portrayal in the media as the singular reason why the Canadiens were such a mediocre team, which also wasn't fair, even though a certain amount of criticism was deserved.
On Thursday, during a tear-filled Bell Centre press conference, Brisebois finally got to fire back, calling out Gazette columnist Jack Todd and La Presse columnist Michel Blanchard as being the two primary reasons why his life became a living hell.
He spoke of how their criticism created a "snowball effect" that ultimately resulted in him becoming the scapegoat for all the team's woes in the eyes of the fans.
He called Todd's campaign against him "cheap" and spoke of how his mother would call him in tears and the effect his public stonings had on his family.
"All I wanted to do was play hockey," he said. "I understand hockey is a business and you have to perform. But when the attacks get personal, I can't accept that."
As he spoke, it seemed as though a weight was being lifted off Brisebois' shoulders, one that he'd been burdened with for the better part of six or seven years. The nature of the media is that we can take shots at players, but rarely do the players get a chance to respond.
On Thursday, Brisebois got his chance and he took it.
I, for one, was very happy for him.