On May 15, 1970, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Michel Briere was involved in a car accident that would eventually lead to his untimely passing, here is a look back at a few things you may not have known about Briere’s time with the club.
Michel Briere was the first player to have his number retired by the Pittsburgh Penguins and his legacy is firmly cemented in team history. While it would have been tremendous to watch him develop into the player that the Penguins hoped for when they drafted him, Briere still provided much excitement in the little time he had in the NHL.
Here is a look back at 5 things you may not have known about Briere’s time with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
When Briere arrived in Pittsburgh, he did so without ever owning a car, having a driver’s license, or car insurance.
After he purchased his burnt orange Mercury Cougar insurance providers were reluctant to give him a policy, based on his non-driving history and his choice of car.
The Lemieux Connection
Nearly 15-years before Mario Lemieux joined the Penguins, he found himself connected to Briere in an interesting way.
In 1968-69, Briere scored 75 goals in 50 games played (GP) as a member of the Shawinigan Bruins of the Quebec Junior Hockey League and set the rookie goal-scoring record.
The record lasted less than a year, as Guy Lafleur of the Quebec Remparts broke the 100 goal mark and the scoring record in 1969-70 after he scored 103 goals and 170 points in 53 GP.
Lafleur would go on to have a Hall-of-Fame career in the NHL and was one of the players Lemieux idolized growing up.
Adding them up
Briere started his career off by scoring points in three straight games and scored his first career goal in his ninth game of the season vs. Minnesota.
Over the course of his rookie campaign, Briere scored multiple points in 11 games and scored three points twice.
Briere finished his rookie campaign with 12 goals and 44 points in 72 games played.
Primed for the Playoffs
The Penguins made the playoffs for the first time in 1970 and their opponents were the Oakland Seals
Arguably the biggest goal Briere scored with the Penguins was the overtime goal he scored against the Seals to secure Pittsburgh’s series sweep.
Briere was held pointless in the first three games of the series but scored two points in the decisive game.
The overtime goal ignited Briere for the Penguins next series vs. St. Louis. Briere scored four goals and six points, in the six-game series that saw the Blues earn the right to face Boston in the Stanley Cup final with a 4-2 series win over Pittsburgh.
Briere also earned 15 penalty minutes in Game 1 of the series against the Blues.
As if the accident that left Briere in a coma and two others with fractures was not tragic enough, the ambulance that was transporting Briere to the hospital struck and killed an 18-year-old named Raymond Perrault, who was riding a motorcycle at the time, near Marlartic QUE.