This weekend a longtime Texas Stars fan favorite returns to Cedar Park … in a Milwaukee sweater.
Mathieu Tousignant, better known as Tousi, a hit in Cedar Park since his earliest shifts in 2009, was summarily stashed with St. John’s last spring as his entry level contract with Dallas expired, effectively ending his time with Texas.
The return of a fan favorite in another team’s jersey is generally never something to look forward to, but in the AHL, where contracts last a year, sometimes two, fans are used to seeing their favorite players leave–whether it’s for another minor pro team or for the NHL. This doesn’t make it any easier.
Tousi played parts of four seasons with Texas and had a reputation as a super-pest. Fans adored the guy for his missing teeth, for his smile, his hustle, his chirping, and for his incredibly genial nature off-ice, even if you couldn’t understand him half the time.
Undrafted after a rather unremarkable career in the Q, Tousi made the Idaho Steelheads roster in 2009 then earned sporadic call-ups to Texas totaling 45 games during their inaugural season. He typically centered a violent and aggressive fourth line between Luke Gazdic and Ray Sawada. Sufficiently impressed, in the summer of 2010 Dallas signed him to a 3 year entry-level contract.
Unfortunately, his three years would see three head coaches, each less interested in his game than the last.
Tousi spent most of this past season with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads, seeing action with Texas in just 18 games. During the lock-out, his role as Texas super-pest was usurped by his former Chicoutimi Sagueneens teammate Antoine Roussel.
Tousi often brought his A game to play in-state rival the Houston Aeros. As is evident in the picture below, he’s not afraid of leaving his skates to follow through on a hit. Although I’ve never been able to confirm it, there was a story going around that the Aeros had a team skating drill that was so despised they named it the Tousi.
On the ice, Tousi chirps. A lot. English is his second language and he speaks it with a choppy, thick French accent. He has a way of bringing the worst out in the opposition. Whereas some players are good at drawing minors, Tousi’s pretty good at provoking majors. Mark Olver was suspended for spearing him. Andre Deveaux, for butt-ending him. And Carson McMillan, for deliberately attempting to injure him with an ugly sucker punch right to the mouth (and should any Aeros fans disagree with me in saying he was sucker-punched, please refer to this Joe O’Donnell call of a later fight between the two for clarification).
One of the best things about Tousi’s ability to verbally agitate is the fact that when the gloves come off, he’s a terrible fighter. Sure, it might be cooler if a yapper could back it up with his fists, but that Tousi can’t makes him all the more entertaining. After all, it’s one thing to have a big mouth and know you can defend it; it’s another altogether to have one and know that you can’t.
And still choose to have one.
Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to seeing Tousi back on Cedar Park ice. I hope he plays well enough to keep his roster spot. I hope he doesn’t provoke any Stars into doing anything stupid. And I hope his team loses.
But like many other Stars fans, I will always hope the best for him.