Throughout the late 2000s and early 2010s, the Flyers had quite an offensive core on their roster. They had many key players who made a difference in their lineups, such as James van Riemsdyk, Scott Hartnell, Simon Gagne, and Jeff Carter among others.
One guy who always made a huge impact, and in my opinion, was one of the best acquisitions the Flyers made during this time period, was center Danny Briere. He was a guy who was not as big as some of the other players throughout the league, but he had the tools and the fight to do his job time and time again, ending his scoring play most times with his signature celebration of his knee down and him pumping his fist up.
Bulking Up the Offense
Briere entered as an unrestricted free agent during the summer of 2007. He had just come off of a career year statistically with the Buffalo Sabres, where he was co-captain of the team along with forward Chris Drury. The talent that Briere had was no secret, and the Flyers wanted to add to their offensive arsenal. Briere fit the bill with what they were looking for.
His regular-season stats during his tenure in Buffalo spoke for themselves:
- 2002-03: 7 goals and 5 assists for 12 points in 14 games
- 2003-04: 28 goals and 37 assists for 65 points in 82 games
- 2005-06: 25 goals and 33 assists for 58 points in 48 games
- 2006-07: 32 goals and 63 assists for 95 points in 81 games
The Flyers already had some names on their offense in guys like Gagne and Mike Knuble, while other players like Mike Richards and Carter were further establishing themselves in the NHL. They wanted another name to complement what was already in the lineup. As a result, Briere inked an eight-year contract worth $52 million. It did not take much time for Briere to adjust to his new home. In the 2007-08 regular season, he tallied 31 goals and 41 assists for a total of 72 points in 79 games and was a big factor in the team making the playoffs that year.
Briere became a face of Philadelphia’s offense during his time there. He was always able to score important goals in the clutch. Two of his best assets were his speed and his hands. Not many players were faster in the league at the time than Briere. His hands with the puck matched the speed too. He had no issue keeping hold of it. These skills made him difficult to contain, and the stat sheet backs it up.
These are the points Briere put up in each regular season in Philadelphia:
- 2007-08: 31 goals and 41 assists for 72 points in 79 games
- 2008-09: 11 goals and 14 assists in 29 games
- 2009-10: 26 goals and 27 assists for 53 points in 75 games
- 2010-11: 34 goals and 34 assists for 68 points in 77 games
- 2011-12: 16 goals and 33 assists for 49 points in 70 games
- 2012-13: 6 goals and 10 assists in 34 games
He also became a solid veteran leader for the younger Flyers to look up to over the years. He already had prior experience as a captain with the Sabres and guys in Philadelphia like Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, and Claude Giroux could look up to and model after a guy like Briere. Schenn, Couturier, and Giroux all became good players, and I don’t doubt at all that Briere played a part in helping bring out the best in his teammates. He was a great locker room leader, and the players respected everything he brought to the game.
One well-known aspect of Briere’s career is how crucial he was in postseason games. He always found a way to contribute one way or another when the Flyers were in the playoffs. It is a testament of how vital he really was for the organization.
His postseason stats while with the Orange and Black are as follows:
- 2007-08: 9 goals and 7 assists for 16 points in 17 games
- 2008-09: 1 goal and 3 assists for 4 points in 6 games
- 2009-10: 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points in 23 games
- 2010-11: 7 goals and 2 assists for 9 points in 11 games
- 2011-12: 8 goals and 5 assists for 13 points in 11 games
Briere was always able to find his way on the scoresheet when the Flyers participated in playoff games. He always stepped his game up in those important moments. One of the best parts about his postseason play was how consistent it was. Looking at the stats above, he was pretty much almost a point-per-game every single night. That kind of consistency can be hard to accomplish for a lot of really talented hockey players, especially when it comes to the playoffs. Briere was always able to contribute every night and leave it all out on the ice.
The pinnacle of Briere’s playoff success came when the Flyers made it to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was the closest that Briere had ever gotten to winning a Stanley Cup (he had made back-to-back Eastern Conference Final with the Sabres in 2006 and 2007, but no Cup Final).
During that series, which went a total of six games, he accumulated three goals and nine assists for 12 points. He averaged two points a night in the biggest series of his career. That speaks volumes for the type of hockey talent he was. He ground it out in games and was able to help take over those games as a result.
He also found chemistry with a lot of other Flyers players over the years. One specific line that comes to mind is when he centered wingers Hartnell and Ville Leino. That line produced a lot, and they made waves.
This line helped push the Flyers to that 2010 Cup Final run and connected a few times during that series against the Blackhawks. Briere knows that what Hartnell and Leino brought to that line helped his game out as well, and made his game that much better too (from ‘Flyers’ Danny Briere credits linemates Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino for his success this season,’ Philadelphia Inquirer, 01/11/2011).
Briere finished his postseason career (not just with the Flyers) with 116 points in 124 games (53 goals and 63 assists).
Retired But Not Forgotten
After the 2012-13 season was over, Flyers management decided it was best to let Briere go. He would leave as a free agent and signed with the Montreal Canadiens. He played a short time there and was eventually acquired by the Colorado Avalanche in a trade. He retired in 2015.
There have been many top-tier talents who have come and gone during the Flyers’ existence in the NHL. One of the top guys for the franchise in the late 2000s and early 2010s was Briere. Unlike during his time in Buffalo, he was not the guy in Philadelphia. He had a lot of support around him through guys like Carter, Richards, and Hartnell among others. Briere still found ways to shine and make an impact, and his presence was felt in the crowd whenever he stepped foot on the ice, and it was felt by his teammates as well. He had a heck of a career, and his stint with the Flyers was impressive.