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Patrice Brisebois, right, poses with the Jean Beliveau Trophy and the legend himself. ((Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press))

Defenceman Patrice Brisebois, who was essentially driven out of Montreal by a seemingly unforgiving Canadiens fan base in 2004, left on his own terms on Thursday.

The 16-year NHL veteran officially and tearfully announced his retirement prior to the Canadiens' pre-season game against the visiting Boston Bruins.

Brisebois was near and dear to the hearts of many Montreal hockey fans in his first full season in 1992-93, helping the Canadiens to a Stanley Cup championship.

"I wore [the Stanley Cup ring] today for the first time since 1993 because I told myself that I'm a winner," Brisebois said, addressing his coach from that year, Jacques Demers. "No one can ever take that away from me."

Brisebois, 38, was also awarded the Jean Beliveau Trophy, which recognizes a player's effort, enthusiasm, involvement and time invested in collective and personal initiatives.

The Beliveau trophy committee, consisting of members of the board of directors of the Canadiens' Children's Foundation, also evaluates the recipient's commitment, leadership and financial assistance to causes close to their heart.

Brisebois spent more than 12 years with Montreal in his first go-round with the team and by the end was booed by some fans for his defensive play.

In the summer of 2005, Brisebois signed a free-agent contract with Colorado, where he spent two seasons before Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey brought him back before the 2007-08 campaign.

In the home opener that season, Brisebois received the loudest ovation of all the players.

"Without Bob, I don't think it would have been possible," Brisebois said. "That ovation is something I'll remember the rest of my life."

Brisebois played his 1,000th NHL game last March and finishes his career with 98 goals and 322 assists for 420 points in 1,009 regular-season contests.

He added 32 points in 98 playoff games, all but nine played for Montreal.

He was the team's Masterton Trophy nominee last season for perseverance, dedication and sportsmanship. He spent this summer racing cars in the NASCAR Canadian Tire series, an endeavour he plans to pursue.