In October 21, 1949, Michel Edouard Briere was born. Nearly 22 years later, Michel passed away at the age of 21. He played as a pro in the National Hockey League for a single season. After his rookie year, he decided to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in an automobile accident, which resulted to a major trauma on his head. Michel went into a coma for almost 1 year and had to undergo several surgeries to his brain until he passed away.
His Playing Career:
Michel was selected in the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft, at the 3rd round. When he played for the Shawinigan Bruins as a junior, he scored a total of 320 points in just 100 games. The Penguins’ general manager, Jack Riley, shared how Michel negotiated for a larger bonus during contract discussions. Michel felt he would be playing his beloved sport for the many years to come.
Michel’s first goal took place during the NHL on November 1, 1969. He beat the Minnesota North Stars goaltender, Ken Broderick. At the same time, Michel was the third highest scorer in the team, with a total of 44 points — a result of doing 32 assists and bringing in the goal up to 12 times. During the Stanley Cups playoffs, he also made history for his team, the Pittsburgh Penguins as he scored the very first overtime in the history of the Pittsburgh Penguins who fought against the Oakland Seals. It was the first ever playoff victory for the team!
Even though Michel was the driving force behind the Penguins getting to the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup, their finish still wasn’t enough to bring them to the championship. They lost to the St. Louis team during the semifinals.
Michel was awarded “Rookie of the Year” by his team and various scouts even believed that Michel would someday be included on the list of the top NHL sportsmen. Because of his death, however, that didn’t come true.
At the completion of the playoffs, Michel returned to his hometown in Quebec with the main goal of tying the knot with his childhood sweetheart, Michele Beaudoin. Their wedding was supposed to happen on June 6, 1970, if not for the crash that occurred on May 15, 1970 which eventually led to Michel’s death.
Michel Briere was the first well known Pittsburgh athlete to die within a 19 month period. The second athlete was the Pittsburgh Pirates’ outfielder, Roberto Clemente. Both Michele and Roberto were supposed to have very bright futures ahead of them, if not for their early deaths.