The Colorado Avalanche surprised the hockey world with a playoff bound season in 2013-2014 that ended at the hands of the Minnesota Wild in overtime of a decisive game 7. In the off season that followed, General Manager Joe Sakic and President of Hockey Operations Patrick Roy, set out to add some veteran presence to the extremely young roster that made up the Avalanche. They did this via trade and free agency.
They added Daniel Briere in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens that sent P.A. Parenteau to Canada. They signed future hall of famer Jarome Iginla on the first day of free agency after completing a trade with the San Jose Sharks for Stanley Cup winning defenceman Brad Stuart. Iginla’s deal was for three years and Stuart quickly signed an extension with the Avalanche before his first game in the burgundy and blue. Briere however remained on his current deal.
Briere had a no trade clause in his contract with the Canadiens but in spite of this, he was approached by the Canadiens executives saying they had a trade in place for him. When he was told the trade was with the Avalanche Briere agreed to waive his clause and join the team in Denver. Briere came to Colorado with over 900 games of NHL experience and was one goal shy of 300 for his career.
Briere was certainly past his prime when he came to Colorado but that was not a secret to anybody, especially Danny and the Avalanche. However, the Avalanche felt comfortable making a trade for a guy who is listed at just 5 feet 10 inches tall but has over 100 games of playoff experience. The start of the season was not very good for any player on the Avalanche roster and it ultimately lead to a season that did not feature the Avalanche in the playoffs. With a record of 0-2 the Avalanche played an afternoon game against the Bruins in Boston. Late in the game with the score tied at 1, Briere scored in a fashion he scored so many goals in his career.
Briere’s perfect position in front of the net left him free of a defender when the rebound came to his stick. Briere showed the patience of a player with years of NHL experience as he moved the puck to his forehand and flipped it home with half a second remaining on the clock to give him career goal number 300. It secured a 2-1 win for the Avalanche, their first of the season. After this play it looked like Briere had found his place as an experienced depth player amid a young team.
As the season progressed however things changed. Briere was often a healthy scratch while AHL call ups found themselves in the lineup. Players like Freddie Hamilton and Jordan Caron were given ice time as the Avalanche continued to fight for their playoff lives and Briere found himself in a suit in the press box. Nobody expected the Avalanche to feature the Briere that played in his prime but having that veteran presence in the stands is a little unusual. However, Briere understood that his career is probably coming to a close and he expected himself to be the best teammate possible no matter what situation he found himself in.
At the conclusion of the season Briere only played in 57 games, most of the others he missed as a healthy scratch. He recorded 8 goals and 4 assists giving him only 12 points on the season which was his lowest NHL point production since 2002-2003 where Briere only played 14 games as a member of the Buffalo Sabres. Briere is currently only 27 games short of 1000 which means had he played all 82 games of the season for the Avalanche he would currently be at 998 career NHL games.
What The Future Holds
It is hard to say at this point what happens next for Briere. It is clear at best, in his late stage of his career, Briere is a third or fourth line depth guy. However with his smaller size could Briere play that role night in and night out against other teams grinders? That is the big question.
It is a safe bet Briere’s time in Colorado is probably over and quite possibly his career. Always considered one of the nicest guys in the NHL no matter where he played it is unfortunate Briere could not go out on top or with a Stanley Cup ring. It would be special to see a team give Briere one more shot and for him to get to that 1000 game mark that so few players get to but it is unclear if that will happen.