Former Philadelphia Flyers center Danny Briere, whose six seasons with the club included some of the most prolific playoff performances in franchise history, announced his retirement as a player on Monday after a 17-year professional career that included 973 NHL games.
“After taking a few weeks to think about it, it’s time to hang them up and spend a little more time at home with the family,” Briere said. “I’ve been very, very fortunate to have had a chance to play with some great organizations, but at this point the family becomes a priority. The Flyers are where I played the bulk of my career. I’ve had a great time in Philadelphia and have been very, very fortunate to have the chance to play here. I would like to thank Mr. Snider, Paul Holmgren and Peter Luukko along with the coaches, staff, the fans and all my teammates. It’s been a great ride in an area that I still call home.”
Briere, 37 (10/6/1977), recorded 307 goals and 389 assists for 696 points with the Phoenix Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Flyers, Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche. The native of Gatineau, Quebec was originally a first-round selection (24th overall) of the Phoenix Coyotes in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, which came following an exceptional 1995-96 junior season for Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Briere led the QMJHL that year with 67 goals and 96 assists for 163 points, and over three seasons he scored 170 goals and added 246 assists for 416 points in 198 games for Drummondville. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 1997 World Junior Championships, and Drummondville retired his #14 in 2007.
Briere began his professional career in the 1997-98 season, which he spent mostly with Phoenix’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Springfield Falcons. Briere won the Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL rookie of the year after posting 36 goals and 56 assists for 92 points in 68 games. He made his NHL debut on March 19, 1998 when Phoenix hosted Colorado, and scored his first NHL goal two nights later when the Coyotes visited Los Angeles on March 21. Briere appeared in a total of five games for Phoenix that season.
The 2001-02 campaign marked Briere’s first full NHL season. He recorded 32 goals, the first of four career 30-goal seasons, and added 28 assists for 60 points in 78 games. He then put up 17 goals and 29 assists for 46 points over the first 68 games of the 2002-03 season before he was traded to Buffalo on March 10, 2003 in a deadline-day deal that sent Chris Gratton to Phoenix.
Briere posted a 65-point season in 2003-04 before heading to Switzerland for the lockout year in 2004-05. He missed a total of half the 2005-06 season due to injury, but still had a breakout year with 58 points (25G, 33A) in just 48 games and was able to help Buffalo to a franchise-record 52-wins season. It was in the 2006 postseason that the NHL first saw an exceptional postseason performance from Briere. He led the Sabres in scoring with 19 points (8G, 11A) in 18 games, helping them reach the conference finals for the first time in seven years.
The 2006-07 season was the best of Briere’s career. He started the year with 27 points in the first 19 games (8G, 19A), which included a 10-game scoring streak from Oct. 6-28 (3G, 12A) and four consecutive multi-point games from Nov. 5-13 (4G, 5A). He recorded his first NHL hat trick on November 5 at Tampa Bay, and posted a second on Jan. 30 vs. Boston. Briere was selected to represent Buffalo at the 2006 NHL All-Star Game and was named the MVP of the event with a five-point night (1G, 4A). He finished the season with 32 goals and 63 assists for 95 points to lead the Sabres in scoring, helping them to a 53-22-7 record and a second consecutive berth in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Briere was a free agent following the season, and his performances of the previous two years made him one of the summer’s most sought-after players. On July 1, 2007, upon the opening of free agency, the Flyers signed Briere to an eight-year contract. He finished second on the team in scoring in 2007-08, recording 72 points (31G, 41A) to help a revitalized Flyers squad rebound from its worst season ever to a trip to the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals. Briere led the Flyers in scoring that playoff season with 16 points (9G, 7A) as they took out the third-seeded Washington Capitals in seven games and the first-seeded Montreal Canadiens in five games.
Briere lost all but 29 games of the 2008-09 season to a nagging abdominal injury, but still recorded 25 points (11G, 14A) in those 29 games. In 2009-10, Briere put up 53 points (26G, 27A) in 75 games, but his greatest contribution that season came in the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final. Briere led the NHL and set a new franchise record with 30 points (12G, 18A) in 23 games, eclipsing the record of 28 set by Brian Propp in 1987. Four of the 12 goals were game-winners.
The 2010-11 season was Briere’s best regular-season performance as a Flyer. He recorded his fourth and final career 30-goal season, putting up 34 goals and 34 assists for 68 points in 77 games while representing the team at the 2011 NHL All-Star Game. He put up another seven goals in 11 playoff games before the Flyers fell to Boston in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. After a 49-point season in 2011-12, Briere put up another stellar playoff performance with 13 points (8G, 5A), including an overtime game-winner in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. New Jersey.
Following the shortened 2012-13 season, the Flyers exercised a salary cap compliance buyout of Briere’s contract. He then signed with Montreal, where he posted 25 points (13G, 12A) in 2013-14 and had one final impressive playoff run, posting seven points (3G, 4A) in 16 postseason games. He was traded to Colorado on June 30, 2014, and posted eight goals and four assists for 12 points over 57 games for the Avalanche in his final campaign.
Briere recorded 68 points (36G, 32A) in 62 career playoff games with the Flyers, giving him an average of 1.10 points per playoff game. He is one of just five Flyers to average more than one point per playoff game (minimum five games), joining Peter Forsberg (1.33, 6 GP), Ken Linseman (1.29, 41 GP), Eric Lindros (1.14, 50 GP), and Claude Giroux (1.07, 57 GP). The 68 points rank him eighth in playoff scoring on the Flyers All-Time List, and the 36 goals rank him seventh in franchise history. His nine career playoff game-winning goals rank him second in franchise history behind only Rick MacLeish (10).
Over the course of his entire NHL career, Briere recorded 116 points (53G, 63A) in 124 career playoff games. The 53 goals tie him with Jeremy Roenick and Bill Barber for 45th on the NHL’s All-Time List.
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