After playing for five different teams over an illustrious 17-year career, Danny Briere is set to retire later this summer, according to Alain Sanscartier of 94.5 FM in Ottawa. Although the 37-year-old forward leaves the NHL last playing for the Colorado Avalanche, he will mostly be remembered wearing orange and black.
Briere didn’t win a Stanley Cup in Philadelphia, nor did he set his career high in points with the Flyers, either. The Gatineau, Quebec native didn’t even break into the league with the Broad Street Bullies.
But what separates Philly from Arizona, whom drafted him 24th overall, or even Buffalo, where he notched 95 points in the 2006-07 season, are the six years Briere spent with the Flyers.
Briere was very much a fan favorite during his time in Philadelphia. He was known – rightly so – as a class act with media, fans and, especially, the community, serving as a board member of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. It didn’t hurt that he was always exciting to watch come the postseason, earning the nickname “Mr. Playoffs.” — Sarah Baicker, CSN Philly
Although Briere excelled in two playoff appearances with the Sabres, tallying 34 points in as many postseason games, the undersized scorer developed the moniker of “Mr. Playoffs” in Philadelphia.
Briere tallied 72 of his 116 playoff points while with the Flyers, while nine of his 13 game-winning playoff goals were scored for a case of TastyKake. Even after turning in 49 points in the 2011-12 season – down 19 points from the year before – the 5-foot-9, 174-pound forward found a way to flip the switch come playoff time, depositing eight goals with five assists in 11 games.
Part of what made Briere special was his year-in-and-year-out clutch playoff performance. Another factor was that he did so with a significantly smaller frame than the average NHL star. But after leading the entire playoffs in 2010 with 30 points, Briere’s reputation grew to that of a playoff legend.
“People have it in their minds that a playoff performer has to be a big guy that can fight for space, but there’s more to it than that,” Briere told Fox Sports’ Craig Morgan last year as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.
“I get excited about the fact there is no tomorrow and you have to be at your best; focused all the time. For some reason, some guys perform better when the pressure is on. I don’t know why that is, but I can tell you I feel more comfortable at this time of year.”
Briere’s tenure in Philadelphia ended rather abruptly after the 2012-13 season, when former GM Paul Holmgren used one of his two compliance buyouts on the beloved playoff hero. The Flyers were coming off of a 23-22-3 lockout-shortened season, missing the playoffs for only the second time since 1994.
Let’s face it, living up to the label of “Mr. Playoffs” when your team isn’t actually in the playoffs is no easy task.
Further, it didn’t help Briere’s cause that he carried a massive $6.5 million cap hit for a team that was beginning to feel the economic squeeze they continue to endure to this day. Injuries also limited the 2007 All-Star MVP to 34 games, which resulted in 16 points – his lowest point total since turning in 15 points with the Coyotes in 2000-01.
Briere would go onto make two more stops before calling it quits, reaching the Eastern Conference Final with the Habs in 2014, before recording 12 points in 57 games for the Avalanche this past year. And while the proud father of three leaves the game having seen his roles diminishing, he leaves behind a legacy that extends far beyond his 307 goals and 389 assists.
Especially in Philadelphia.
Legacy in Philadelphia
Briere’s impact throughout six seasons in Philadelphia wasn’t exclusive to on-ice contributions. Sure, his career-high 34 goals in the 2010-11 campaign was greatly appreciated, along with his 14 power-play goals in his first year with the Flyers. But it’s the lasting legacy he made off the ice that makes his time in Philly just as memorable, if not more so.
As mentioned above, Briere served as a member of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation’s board of directors while a member of the Flyers, a position he still holds to this day.
As a member of the board of directors, Briere has played an intricate role in the program, hosting school programs – including one that’s dedicated to girls – as well as providing travel hockey teams and summer camps.
Much of Briere’s generosity, however, comes from understanding the obstacles certain children face. And while his involvement in Snider’s foundation is widely documented, it’s what he’s done when a pool of cameras aren’t around that’s solidified his popularity in Philadelphia.
Back in April of 2013, Briere’s final season with the Flyers, the former first-round pick agreed to meet with an autistic child named Kaylin, which was facilitated by members of the OrangeAndBlackPack.com.
Briere met with Kaylin and her mother after a game against the New Jersey Devils at the Wells Fargo Center, greeting the little girl with hugs before taking a plethora of pictures with his little fan. The following is an exert from the website’s write-up of the meeting:
Danny Briere came into sight just outside the dressing room doors. He had already showered up and dressed in a dapper suit. When his eyes fell on Kaylin, you would have thought he’d known her his entire life. Danny dropped down and opened his arms, scooped Kaylin up and told her how beautiful she is.
Kaylin was in shock; the sheer storm of happiness and excitement had rendered her speechless. All she could do was hug Danny back, and, of course, grow the biggest smile I have ever seen a child wear. — Michael DeNicola, The Orange & Black Pack
It’s this type of bond that Briere has established with Kaylin, along with the city, that makes Philadelphia “home” for the newly retired skater.
“It’s still home first of all,” said Briere last Dec. in a Q & A with NJ.com’s Randy Miller. “And then I still have a lot of good friends on the team, as well. People that were there when I was there are still around. The Flyers will always have a special place in my heart so it’s hard not to know what they’re doing. You keep track and still wish them the best other than the two nights that we’re facing each other.”
Since signing as an unrestricted free agent in 2007, Briere has considered Philadelphia “home,” a sentiment that’s remained even when playing for his “hometown” Canadiens in the 2013-14 season.
Now that his time on the ice is reportedly finished, the long-time Flyer has expressed interest in joining an NHL front office, much like Kimmo Timonen has declared. Whether it’s in Philadelphia, or anywhere else, it doesn’t change where the clutch playoff performer calls home.
Like many players, Briere has thoughts about entering management when his playing days are over. But there is also the lure of spending more time with his sons, Caelan (16), Carson (15) and Cameron (13), back in the Philadelphia area where his ex-wife, Sylvie, lives. — Craig Morgan, Fox Sports Arizona
While Briere is two years removed from the organization, he’ll unquestionably be most remembered as a member of the Flyers.
To date, he sits 35th all-time in the franchise with 234 points, 17 ahead of former captain Keith Primeau. Briere’s 42 playoff points rank him 18th on the franchise list, while his 30 points from the 2010 postseason are the highest in a single playoff year in Flyers history.
Briere’s career may be over now, but his place in the organization’s history will forever remain. Next stop, the Philadelphia Flyers Hall of Fame.
Andy is a contributor for The Hockey Writers, covering the Philadelphia Flyers. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Walsh University. He enjoys spending time with his family, golfing, and reading. He is married with a daughter. You can follow Andy on Twitter @ADudones.