Inside the Flyers: After surviving crash, it's a new day for Briere

"Try to live in the moment as much as possible," Danny Briere (left) says of the lesson he learned from the crash.
"Try to live in the moment as much as possible," Danny Briere (left) says of the lesson he learned from the crash.
Posted: October 24, 2010

You can understand why high-scoring Flyers center Danny Briere plays with a carefree attitude these days.

When you have survived a potentially fatal car accident - with your youngest son by your side in the front seat - you tend not to take hockey too seriously.

Don't get the wrong impression. It's not that Briere isn't ultra-dedicated to the sport. It's just that a near-death experience has left him counting his blessings and not bothered by the little things in life, such as the inevitable scoring slumps.

Briere and his 9-year-old son, Cameron, survived a crash with a tractor-trailer on June 17 near Binghamton, N.Y. Briere, a Haddonfield resident, was driving on Interstate 81, headed to visit his parents in suburban Ottawa.

A New York State Police officer said that Briere was "a little drowsy" and that his black 2010 Range Rover drifted into another lane and clipped the side of the tractor-trailer, which jackknifed and tipped over. Briere's SUV then swerved and hit a guardrail.

Briere, 33, will not comment on the accident - or whether he agrees with the police account. He and his son, along with the driver of the tractor-trailer, were taken to a hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries and released.

When you look at photos of Briere's totaled SUV - the rear of the vehicle, where Briere's son frequently sits so he can watch a movie, was crushed by the impact - it's shocking no one was injured seriously.

"My son didn't have a scratch on him, which is unbelievable," Briere said after practice Friday in Voorhees. "There was definitely someone watching over us that night."

Briere, who received a ticket for an unsafe lane change, said the accident had changed his life.

"It makes you realize you have to appreciate everything that's going on in the moment," he said, "and not waste so much time thinking about the past. Try to live in the moment as much as possible."

Entering Saturday night's game against upstart Toronto, Briere led the Flyers with four goals in six games, and he was the only player to have scored on the team's 2-for-27 power play.

Perhaps Briere's impressive start is a carryover from his superb 2010 postseason.

Then again, his carefree, happy-go-lucky attitude might also be a reason for it.

The attitude stems from surviving the crash and overcoming some unrelated personal problems that had weighed on him.

"I feel great. A lot of the [off-ice] problems that I've had the past couple of years are behind me now," he said. "I can focus on hockey and basically my job, which is a good feeling."

Briere led all NHL scorers with a franchise-record 30 playoff points last season. He came within one point of the NHL record for points in the Stanley Cup Finals - 13 by someone named Wayne Gretzky in 1988.

Early in last season's playoffs, coach Peter Laviolette put Briere on a line with wingers Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino.

The line made Laviolette look like Scotty Bowman. The three players had an instant connection and quickly became the Flyers' No. 1 unit. The trio was plus-15 in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks. In contrast, the Mike Richards-Jeff Carter-Simon Gagne line was minus-21.

This season, the Briere-Hartnell-Leino line has started to emerge. Leino got off to a slow start because he was recovering from off-season hip surgery, but he has recently begun showing flashes of his rookie season.

"The chemistry that was built with Ville and Scott last year makes me very excited about this year," Briere said. "I think we're players that rely a lot on instincts. The more games we get under our belt, the better I think we'll be as a line."

Leino, who is hoping a thigh injury suffered in a collision with teammate Chris Pronger on Friday does not set him back, "didn't have a chance to skate that much in preseason," Briere said. The four days the Flyers were off before Thursday's game "gave him a chance to work on his skating, and get some jump. I thought he really had some pop in his step against Anaheim" on Thursday.

With a more-relaxed Briere as the anchor - and looking to be in the peak of his career - it's not far-fetched to think his line could combine for 70 to 75 goals this season.

Now, if only the other lines would start meshing.


Inside the Flyers:

Read Sam Carchidi's Flyers blog, "Broad Street Bull", at www.philly.com/flyers.

Blog response of the week

Subject: Flyers' forecheck

Response from rockinrob at 12:22 p.m. Friday.

What happened to forcing the turnovers on the forecheck? I thought the Flyers were going to be the better conditioned team and attacking the opponent's defense. Don't see it. Zherdev needs to start putting the biscuit in the net, otherwise this team is lacking a scorer. You have to move Carter to the Giroux line and move JVR to the Richards line. You need to put proven goal scorers with Giroux because of his ability to see the ice, and JVR and Zherdev don't give him that guy.

You don't need an IQ of 100 to see this team needs to start mixing it up. Do they hit people anymore?


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BroadStBull.

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