Brian Boucher has a bit of a different perspective on Danny Briere than others might have. The two are teammates now in Philadelphia, but it's not the first time they've been together. They were teammates for most of the 2002-03 season with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Boucher was in his first season in the desert, arriving in an offseason trade with the Flyers. Briere was in what would end up as his final season with the Coyotes, as he was traded in March 2003 to the Buffalo Sabres.
Boucher remembers Briere as a talented player who couldn't find his niche in the lineup. He had scored 32 goals in the 2001-02 season, but had slumped to 17 -- with a minus-21 rating -- in 68 games at the time of his trade.
"(In Phoenix) he was trying to find his way, fighting through being in and out of the lineup and coaches not trusting him on the ice," said Boucher. "The typical stuff that happens to young guys."
Briere was taken by the Coyotes in the first round of the 1996 Entry Draft, but never became the top-flight scorer Phoenix had hoped for. He was waived twice by the Coyotes before getting traded to the Sabres, where he eventually developed into an All-Star. He signed with the Flyers in July 2007, and the pair briefly was reunited before Boucher was sent to the minors and then traded to San Jose. Boucher returned to the Flyers in the summer of 2009, and has had a front-row seat for Briere's rise to playoff stardom the last two seasons.
"He's a resilient guy, has a lot of fight in him," said Boucher. "When he broke into the League, size was always an issue back then. It was always like, this guy's too small. Now that's changed where now size really isn't a factor. If you can skate, you can play.
"Now you can see it. He's a true leader. He can bring it. When he's inspired like he's been, there's nobody better. It's been great."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK