Born September 3, 1975 (age 35) in Saint-Martin-d’Hères, France
Goaltender for Fribourg-Gottéron (Swiss National League A)
Continuing the Blackhawks theme, we have the first Frenchman to win a Stanley Cup as a player. Cris is actually the first goaltender and one of only three players in general to be born and trained in France, with Philippe Bozon and Stéphane Da Costa being the others.
Cris got his start with Les Brûleurs de Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf), a pro hockey club in Grenoble, France as well as the Swiss hockey club HC Lugano. He was drafted in 2001 by the Los Angeles Kings and played with them and their AHL affiliate for three seasons before the Season That Never Was. During that time, he played for the Mannheim Eagles in the German hockey leagues and led them to the finals before losing.
After the lockout, he was traded to Montreal, where he was named Best Defensive Player twice. That season the Canadiens met the the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs, eventually losing to the Canes, who went on to win the Cup.
Halfway through the 2007-08 season, Cris was traded to the Washington Capitals for a 2009 draft pick because Carey Price came to town. Cris did so well for the Caps that they made the playoffs but lost in the first round to Philadelphia.
After being shuttled from one team to another, Cris was finally a UFA and chose a four-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. At first he was backup to Nikolai Khabibulin, but when he went down with a groin injury Cris was called. He shone until Khabi came back, and the team ended up in the playoffs. Things looked good there because Khabi was injured again, but after a bad game Corey Crawford was called up from the AHL to replace poor Cris.
In that awesome championship season, Cris was starting goalie with Antti Niemi as backup. Toward the end of the season Nemo took over as starter, but Cris got 20 minutes of playoff ice time. In the end, he got a chance to hoist the Cup.
This past season the Blackhawks loaned him to Fribourg-Gotteron because of the Great Salary Cap Purge. His contract expires after this season, so we’ll see where he goes next.
Fun fact: when Cris got his Cup Day, he took it to his hometown, of course, but then the Cup went to Paris for the first time. Two words can only describe that: c’est magnifique!