Inside the Flyers: Flyers' Briere opens his home to rookie Couturier

Danny Briere said having a teammate live with him adds adds energy to the home.
Danny Briere said having a teammate live with him adds adds energy to the home. (LAURENCE KESTERSON / Staff)
Posted: October 16, 2011

Danny Briere is more than one of the Flyers' premier forwards. More than an integral part of their power play. More than someone who seems to play his best in big games.

He is also the unofficial Team Big Brother.

A year ago, Briere had been recently divorced when he asked teammate and fellow French Canadian Claude Giroux to move in with him and his three boys in their Haddonfield home.

Giroux has since opted for a place of his own in Cherry Hill, and Briere's newest housemate will soon be 18-year-old rookie Sean Couturier, another French Canadian. Couturier plans to move in with Briere in the coming days.

"It's not easy having an 18-year-old live by himself right away, so I just offered it to him," Briere said.

That means the Flyers' top three centers, at one time or another, will have had the same South Jersey address.

"The adaptation will probably be easier being with him," Couturier said. "He's a great pro to learn from, so it should be fun. It's a nice setup for me."

Briere, 34, said having a teammate live with him and his boys adds energy to his home.

"It was fun having Claude around; we had a good time, and it brought even more life than we already had with the boys and the dogs," Briere said. "I have an extra room, so it works out, and obviously it makes it easier that he's French Canadian as well, just like Claude. So he can speak French to the kids as much as possible."

The Flyers can only hope the arrangement works as well on the ice for Couturier as it did for Giroux and Briere, each of whom played in last season's All-Star Game.

Giroux, now 23, had a breakout season last year (25 goals, 76 points), while Briere had a career-best 34 goals.

Living with Briere helped his development, Giroux said.

"Any time you see a veteran doing what he does off the ice, you learn from it," Giroux said. "Last year was a big year, learning-wise, for me. Not just on the ice, but off the ice, too. I had Danny to follow. I think he's pretty smart about getting your rest and making sure you're focused for the game and kind of thinking more hockey."

The move will help Couturier, but he may have some problems gaining weight, Giroux said.

"Obviously Danny's a terrible cook," Giroux said with a smile, "but other than that . . ."

(Full disclosure: Briere, his boys, and Giroux ate take-out almost every night.)

Couturier has gotten better with each game and has been one of the Flyers' top penalty killers. In Thursday's 5-4 win over Vancouver, he notched his first career point - setting up Jakub Voracek's goal - and came within inches of his initial goal, firing a shot off the post.

Briere doesn't like to compare the 6-foot-3, 197-pound Couturier to any current players; some scouts say he reminds them of a young Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh's gifted 6-4, 220-pound center.

"Comparisons are always tough. You want players to be their own," Briere said. "But what's impressive with him is his defensive play already; he's strong on the puck, always on the good side of the puck. And when you're that player early on, you're no risk to put on the ice. The coach won't be afraid to play you."

When the Flyers dealt minor-leaguer Stefan Legein last week, they opened a contract spot that will be needed if Couturier plays his 11th game with them.

Based on his early play, all signs point to Couturier's staying with the Flyers and not being sent back to juniors, where he has had consecutive 96-point seasons. Besides being one of the Flyers' top penalty killers, Couturier has centered the third line, which has Matt Read, another rookie, and veteran Scott Hartnell.

"I think it's the perfect place for him to grow up as a player because there's no expectation for him to score 30, 40 goals right away," Briere said. "He can get into his own [rhythm]. We all know the offense is going to come after a while because he has so much skill and talent, but right now, there's no risk because he's so good defensively. He gets more experience at an early age, and that's very impressive."

Meanwhile, Briere said his boys - Caelan, 13; Carson, 12; and Cameron, 10 - "keep asking when he's going to move in. I know they're excited."

They want another victim for their video-game challenges.

"Exactly," Briere said.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com or on Twitter @BroadStBull.

 

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