(Philadelphia, PA, July 1) – In the days and weeks leading up to the beginning of the free agency signing period, Daniel Briere
had one team that kept popping up in his mind as he was considering his options.
Fortunately for him, that team gave him a call on July 1 and the result a little later in the day was a multiple-year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers for the highly-sought after center.
“In past few weeks, even when I was thinking about it, Philly came up at the top of my list,” said Briere on a conference call with local reporters on Sunday night. “There’s a lot going for Philly and a lot of it is interesting to me.
“They are just so committed to winning and that impressed me. I wanted to be a part of a winning team, not just for the next year or two or three, but for awhile. I’m signed for a long time and glad to be part of a team that’s on the upswing.”
|Daniel Briere battles the Flyers' Jeff Carter during a game on April 8, 2007 |
The day began with more than 10 teams inquiring about Briere’s services. He and his agent narrowed that list to “five or six” teams, but ended with one team that was the most appealing to him.
In fact, Briere admitted that other teams even offered a little more money than the Flyers.
“I can say that average wise there were teams that were higher than [Philadelphia],” he said. “I was fortunate to be in that position and I wanted to be able to pick the team I wanted to be with. At that point, I thought the Flyers were the best fit for me.”
Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren wasted no time in getting arguably the top free agent available in the league, and is hopeful that Briere can help lead the club back to playoff contention. Briere led the Buffalo Sabres in scoring with 95 points last season (32G,63A), and was co-captain of the team that advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.
“I think Daniel is an exciting player,” said Holmgren. “Obviously with the numbers he put up last year, he’ll fit in with our younger players that we have in our lineup as well as our established players. He will be an offensive leader for our team for years to come.”
Signing Briere wasn’t the only big move that Holmgren made on July 1. He acquired winger Joffrey Lupul and defenseman Jason Smith from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Joni Pitkanen, Geoff Sanderson and a third round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. That trade, as well as the several moves that the team made late last season, also helped convince Briere that he made the right choice.
“It’s amazing. With the trade that just happened, it’s so exciting and I’m so happy to be a part of the organization,” said Briere. “Even before the trade today, I was excited how last year at the deadline they got some really good young players.
“I think it’s going to be a very different team than the team that was on the ice last year. With the two new players today, and two weeks ago (Kimmo Timonen
and Scott Hartnell
), it shows that the Flyers are not going to rest on their hands when things aren’t going their way. They are serious about their team and committed, and they are taking action.”
Briere isn’t the only one that Holmgren has impressed with his moves. Chairman Ed Snider had the following to say about what Holmgren has done in his short tenure as general manager:
“I think the (Peter) Forsberg deal, acquiring Marty Biron and everything else that Paul has done; I think he has done one of the most outstanding jobs I have ever seen in one year in re-tooling a team. I am just thrilled that he was able to accomplish everything that he was able to accomplish.”
With all of the new faces, Holmgren believes the team is now in a good position to start the season on the right foot.
“I think we have a fighting chance now,” said Holmgren. “Our long-term goal is always to win the Stanley Cup. Our short-term goals obviously come before that. Our short-term goal is going to get in the playoffs and in order to do that we need to be ready to go right from the get go. I think with the team we established, with maybe some minor adjustments throughout the rest of the summer, we are geared up and ready to go.”
The newest Flyer agrees with his general manager.
“I believe the pieces are there to be a very successful team,” said Briere. “I am actually convinced that it’s going to work out.”