Flyers confirm Briere buyout

ZACK HILL / FLYERS Danny Briere (left) leaves the Flyers SkateZone with two of his sons, Carson and Caelan.
ZACK HILL / FLYERS Danny Briere (left) leaves the Flyers SkateZone with two of his sons, Carson and Caelan.
Posted: June 21, 2013

TRAINING WITH a few of his teammates at the Flyers' practice facility over the last few weeks, no one approached Danny Briere and asked about his future plans or the upcoming season.

It had been a topic in the media well before the curtain closed on the Flyers' miserable season.

"It was kind of the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about," Briere said. "The hockey world - it's a small world. I've seen all the rumors. Reality was, it was going to happen. It's a sad day that it's finally official."

The Flyers confirmed yesterday what many have been thinking for months.

After the Stanley Cup finals end next week, the Flyers will use one of their two available compliance buyouts to cut ties with one of the classiest players in franchise history, 2 years before his contract was scheduled to end. He will immediately become an unrestricted free agent.

"This was a very difficult decision for us to make as Danny has been a very good player for us over the past 6 years," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "Danny came to our organization as a free agent in July of 2007 and has been a tremendous player, person and role model in all aspects and for that we thank him. We wish him continued success and best wishes in any future endeavors."

Briere, 35, collected just 16 points in 34 games this season - the worst statistical season over his 14-year NHL career. Perhaps, Briere said, this all could have been avoided if he had been able to play better and the Flyers had gotten to the playoffs.

Briere will go down as one of the most clutch players in team history. He netted a staggering 72 points in 68 playoff games with the Flyers, including a league-high 30 during the team's 2010 run to the Stanley Cup finals.

"You try to play and not think about it, that it might happen, that you might have to move," Briere said. "But at the same time, the toughest part was not dealing with that. The toughest part was not winning, not being in the playoffs, and not having a good year as a team. That was definitely a lot tougher than me having to deal with my own personal issues."

In 364 games in Philadelphia, Briere posted 124 goals and 159 assists for 283 points. He ranks eighth in franchise history among right wingers in scoring, behind Mikael Renberg and Holmgren. That he is grouped among wingers was a contentious issue. He always considered himself a natural center, a position he'd played his entire career, but never challenged the coaching staff's decision in Philadelphia.

Briere was the opposite of adversarial, always willing to do what was asked of him. The Flyers reciprocated his class by informing him of the move in a respectful way last week.

"The first 5 years here were amazing," Briere said. "The one that I think stands out the most was the [2010] playoff run - making the playoffs on the last regular-season game, on a shootout, and going on that run all the way to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final. I'll always be grateful for my time here as a Flyer."

The Flyers will pay Briere $825,000 each of the next 4 years to not play for the team. His 8-year, $52 million deal was so heavily front-loaded that it made more sense for the team to exercise their buyout rights, removing his costly $6.5 million salary-cap hit from the books.

Briere will not be allowed to re-sign or be traded back to the Flyers, for a period of 1 year.

Now, the only question left is where Briere will land. Ottawa, across the river from his hometown of Gatineau, Quebec, seems like a natural fit. He has not yet been permitted to speak to other teams and said there "are a lot of things to consider."

Senators GM Bryan Murray usually isn't keen on smaller players, but word is he may take a flier if "the price is right." Briere isn't likely to command a big salary on the open market, with his small, 5-10 body having taken a beating over 847 games. Briere said he hopes he has 2 or 3 years left.

Montreal and New Jersey are also possible landing spots. Briere would like to remain close to his three hockey-playing boys - Cameron, Carson and Caelan - who will stay in South Jersey with their mother.

"This is my home," Briere said. "Whatever happens in the future, wherever I'm going to go, it's not going to be strictly my decision. The kids are going to be involved in that. They're going to have a say just as much as me. Wherever I'm going to end up, the kids are staying here and I'm coming back here. This is what we consider home now."

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On Twitter: @DNFlyers


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