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Danny Briere Press Conference

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
(Voorhees, NJ, July 12) - Philadelphia Flyers center Danny Briere was introduced to the local media on Thursday at noon at the Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone. Click below to view the press conference in its entirety.


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In attendance: President/COO of Comcast-Spectacor Peter Luukko, Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren, Flyers Head Coach John Stevens and center Danny Briere

Paul Holmgren: “I’m 99 percent certain that I’ll say this is our last press conference this week.  Today we are here to present our prized free agent acquisition of the summer, center Danny Briere, formerly of the Buffalo Sabres.  We are extremely excited about the opportunity to sign Danny and bring him into Philadelphia.  We think he is an outstanding fit for our team.  He has a unique blend of skill and determination and competitiveness.  We think he is going to do wonders for our team right from the get-go.  Without any further ado, I would like present and welcome Danny Briere to Philadelphia.”

Q:  After you signed here, a couple days later, the Sabres had a press conference with their writers about the big market teams once again dominating free agency and stealing players from small market teams.  Do you feel that is what happened here?
Danny Briere is presented with his jersey by General Manager Paul Holmgren. (Flyers Photos)

Briere
:  “I don’t think that was the case here at all.  When we got to July 1, what I was looking for was the best fit, the best organization, the team that seemed committed to winning the most.  I don’t think money was an issue at all.”

Q:  What brought you here?

Briere
:  “I have said it before, I have asked a lot of questions to players and mostly players because that is where I am going to be sitting for the next few years. And (I spoke to) the players that were playing here, players that used to play here, even one guy that played here last year who’s not part of the team, every single one had only positive things to say about the organization, the coaching staff, the way they were treated, that is where I am going to be sitting and that had a lot to do with it.”

Q:  How much did you lean on Marty Biron to get that information?  I have the feeling that he influenced your decision quite a bit.

Briere:  “I did ask him some questions just to get a feel how it was.  I said it before, I was very interested in the Flyers because of the direction the team was going into and playing against them and realizing all the good young players that they have on the team and the new acquisitions that they made.  I asked questions to Marty about the organization, the players on the team, the coaching staff, stuff like that.  That’s where he was helpful.”

Q:  Do you think you would have made this decision if all the moves that were made just prior to that had not been completed?  At the end of last season, there were some questions about the future of this team.

Briere
:  “I looked at it where I wasn’t just a signing a one-year contract.  I wanted to be with a good organization.  Like I said before, an organization that is committed to winning, not just for this year, but for the next three, four, five, six, eight years.  That had something to do with that.  You look at the history of the Flyers and they are an organization that does well and like I said committed to winning so I think it would have been the same answer.”

Q:  As a player is there any concerns, questions as to how all these new faces are going to fit together?

Briere
:  “There are going to be a lot of new players next year.  You never know how long it is going to take to mesh.  We have a lot of good young players that are still going to have a lot of room for improvement.  How it’s going to mesh I don’t know.  What I expect from this team looking at our roster is to definitely make the playoffs.  That is what I expect us to do at least get to.”

Q:  You had pretty good years before the lockout and then when the rules change came in the last couple of years, physically speaking, your game has improved.  Was that because of the rule changes or was it because you matured more as a player or was it a combination?

Briere
:  “I believe it was a combination of both.  The new rules obviously helped.  Being able to skate a little bit more.  Not having to carry guys on your back while you are trying to get to a loose puck.  Also the fact that I am maturing, getting more experience, that certainly helped also.  You look at the (Anaheim) Ducks winning the (Stanley) Cup, I think it was a good mix of physical, gritty players and quick, explosive players and you look at our team and that is exactly the direction I think we are taking.  You can’t just go all speed and you can’t just go all physical, I think it is a combination of both.”

Q:  What happened last season in Buffalo, you were supposed to go all the way?

Briere
:  “I think we just weren’t able to get on that roll in the playoffs.  You look at team like Ottawa who kind of started slow and they played better and better and better and they got into the playoffs on a roll and they were playing with a lot of confidence.  It’s tough to say with Anaheim because I have not seen them much and we don’t play very much against the Western Conference.  In our case, we started really strong and after a while, it’s like we basically knew we were going to win the Eastern Conference and there was a little let down and we just weren’t able to get back to the same level we had earlier in the year before Christmas.”

Q:  Talk about the pressure.

Briere:  “I believe there is pressure anywhere.  You have to be able to face it.  It comes with the territory.  It’s part of the game.  We’ve been playing hockey all our lives; there is pressure everywhere.  I don’t think it’s a factor or is the reason why it’s teams like Anaheim, Tampa Bay and Carolina winning the last few years.“ 

Q:  How will Danny fit into your lineup?

John Stevens:  “First of all, there is a lot of speculation about our line combinations. We thought we would give Danny and Gags (Simon Gagne) a try together, see how it goes (laughs).  As a coach, when you see a player like Danny, it’s always interesting for me to look a little deeper and look why he has success.  When you get some tape and you sit down and isolate on Danny, there is a reason he is successful.  He’s not just a skilled player. He’s in first in the forecheck a lot. He’s really dynamic down low, he’s not afraid to get in there and battle through traffic.  With his skill level and determination, he’s put up great numbers, so we feel he is a great fit here.  You talk to our players they are probably the most excited group more than the fans that Danny is here because we feel there was a hole in the number one center iceman that can really take charge in the offensive game and can really be a leader on our power play.  I think he is an ideal fit here.”

Q:  How do you define leadership and how will you try to fit in with this team?

Briere:  “Leadership is not about screaming and yelling.  With leadership you don’t really control that.  It’s what you do on the ice and the way you carry yourself, I think that is the most important.  I’m not going to be any different here, I’m going to be the same guy that I was before when I played in Buffalo or in Phoenix, more experienced obviously.  When you look at our team now, there are a couple other captains coming from other teams as well.  Derian Hatcher used to be a captain in Dallas as well and there are other guys that have been leaders.  Personally, I don’t think it’s going to be an issue on this team.”

Q:  Are you prepared to take on that captain role if it does come your way?

Briere:  “I don’t play for a letter on my jersey.  It’s about winning. It’s about moving in the right direction.  Like I said, there are a lot of guys that can do that role as well.  You don’t need a letter on your jersey to be a leader on the team.  We have many guys that can do that.  It’s not something I am worried about at all.”

Q:  When you look at $52 million, players around the league see that, your teammates, the fans, what responsibility does that carry?

Briere:  “Obviously, you have to perform, and the only way to do that is by working on the ice.  There is no other secrets to it.  To be successful, you have to work, you have to work and leave it all on the ice.  That’s what I plan on doing.  I know it’s a lot of money, a lot more money than I ever thought I would be making playing a game I love.  I know I am very fortunate, like all of my teammates, doing a job that we love.  I am excited about playing here and coming here and try to help this team.”

Q:  What if anything do you get from playing with Chris Drury?

Briere
:  “You learn a lot just by watching him.  His preparation is very good.  You talk about leaders, he is not a guy who yells, but you watch him, he is prepared and he is ready to go every single game and he is a warrior.  Guys like that you just watch them and you try to learn from them.”

Q:  When did Marty (Biron) start trying to get you to come to Philadelphia?

Briere
:  “Marty was really good, we didn’t talk through the playoffs, through the end of the year.  Marty was on TSN, we said we wouldn’t be talking.  We had been working out together in the summer and I just asked him a few questions here and there, that’s all it was.”

Q: Did you think at some point you would go back to Buffalo or were you always open to testing the market?

Briere:  “I never really thought about that until the season was over.  When the season was over, there was only about a month left before July 1.  In Buffalo, they have a rule where they refuse to negotiate during the season, so never did I even think about that.  When the season was over, that is when we started looking at our different options.”

Q:  When you look at the Flyers’ roster who jumps out at you that you are excited to play with?

Briere
:  “There are a lot of guys.  It’s exciting to see all the new faces coming in.  A lot of the good young players that I had the chance to play against (Mike) Richards, (Jeff) Carter, (Scottie) Upshall, the past few years.  I know Upshall just got here, but playing against him even when he was with Nashville and at the end of the season.  Having maybe the chance to play with (Mike) Knuble and (Simon) Gagne, they were part of probably the best line the past couple of years with (Peter) Forsberg.  It’s not just about one or two guys.  I like the way this team is shaping up.  The veterans mixed in with the young players that are coming in, I think are going to be very good players for a long time.”

Q:  Why wasn’t playing in Montreal and staying in Canada that attractive to you, why were you more enticed to come down here?

Briere
:  “I like this team, I like how I was fitting in with this team.  People seem to think that when I say I like the direction the team is going that it’s a knock against Montreal, it’s not at all.  I have heard a lot of good things about Montreal.  It’s a great organization, but in the end my gut was telling me this was the best fit.”

Q:  Your gut was telling you that before the offers even came in?

Briere
:  “I had a pretty good feeling that the place I wanted to go was Philly when we started looking at our options, when we kind of realized that we were going to hit July 1.”

Q:  Did the fact that Philadelphia was coming off its worst season give you any pause at all?

Briere
:  “No, because you have to look deeper than that.  You have to look the players that are going to be there for you, with you I should say for the next three, four, five years and looking at that group of core players that they have here that is what I got excited about.”

Q:  Which players, are you talking about, Carter and Richards?

Briere:  “Carter, Richards, I don’t want to forget anybody.  Carter, Richards, (Joffrey) Lupul, (Scott) Hartnell, Gagne, the leaders also, guys like Knuble and Derian Hatcher, Denis Gauthier, (Kimmo) Timonen coming in, I could go on and on, I just don’t want to miss anybody. Like I said, the mix I just thought was great.”

Q:  Does it remind you of where Buffalo was four, five years ago?

Briere:  “Yes, you are dead on with that.  When I came to Buffalo, we were near the bottom and we had a similar look.  We had to try and get together and improve together.  I have the feeling that kind of the same thing is happening here.”

Q:  You had some real battles with the Flyers in the playoffs, what was it like to play here and how do you think it will be different to play here now?

Briere
:  “It was tough and not just in the playoffs.  Playing in Philly, it is always one of the toughest buildings to play in.  You ask any players, it’s a tough place to play and it got even tougher when we played here in the playoffs.  I remember we played three games here, we lost the first two and the building was rocking.  I expect to see more of that in the future, even louder.”

Q:  Having had success with Chris Drury, how will it be playing against him eight times each season?

Briere
:  “We already talked about that, that we won’t be able to talk to each other much during the season.  But you know I am excited about the rivalry.  This is what is fun about playing hockey, when you have the chance to be in a heated rivalry like we have here with the Rangers.  I can’t wait to be part of it and to start hating the Rangers just like everybody else (laughs).”

Q:  Did you have the chance to speak to Mr. Snider after you signed with the Flyers?

Briere
:  “To be honest with you, we did speak about 15 to 20 minutes after it was announced and at that time, I was still too excited to even remember what was said.  I was too excited at the time.  That first day I don’t remember much of it.  There were lots of phone calls being made left and right, I couldn’t keep up with my cell phone.  It was pretty crazy.”

Q:  There was a lot of speculation which player was the best center to get for the Flyers, why did Briere fit better than some of the other guys?

Holmgren
:  “I’ll be honest, all three of those players (Scott Gomez, Chris Drury and Danny Briere), we had conversations with all three agents.  It just seemed to be pointing in (Danny’s) direction for us.  We needed a guy that is competitive, we needed a guy that could score us goals and we needed a guy that could be creative on the power play.  I think Danny fits all those categories for us.  He is an exciting offensive player and he is competitive defensive player as well.  It just ended up being a perfect fit.  Listening to Danny talk and the times I have talked to him since July 1 I know he is just as excited about being here as we are about having him.”

Q:  You have a lot of fans out there waiting for you, can you talk about what you can promise them for next year?

Briere
:  “What I can promise is that we are going to give it our all.  I think it’s already started to get back on track, and we want to take it to the next level.”

Q:  What are your thoughts on all this coming together?

Peter Luukko
:  “I think when you see what we set out to do, change the organization and begin to build that core to be good, not just for the next season, but for many seasons after that.  I think Paul has done an outstanding job building that core. If you look at the players now that are going to be here for a number of years, I think that is very important.  Any success we’ve had in the past in the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s, we had a nice core of players.  We had a core here that we began to build around and than the addition of Danny, Hartnell, Timonen and the others I think it is going to be very exciting not only this year, but for many years to come.”
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