After 17 seasons as an NHL player, Daniel Briere is starting to learn the other side of hockey.
Briere, 38, announced his retirement Aug. 17, and since then he's been working with Philadelphia Flyers president Paul Holmgren, learning the business side of the sport.
"It's for now mostly on the business side," Briere said. "Learning how an organization works as far as season tickets, food, parking and all of that. Basically the way it all comes together behind the scenes. For so many years my meetings were about power play, the system and the teams we were facing. Now I have the chance to see behind the door what it's like to selling tickets and season tickets and services and all that. So it's pretty cool. It gets me out of my comfort zone and it's something that I didn't know anything about."
Holmgren said so far Briere has been a willing student.
"The fact that he's pushing to get in on all these things and listening and quick to know our staff, it's been great," Holmgren said. "He's been great for us. Hopefully he's learning more and more about the business each day."
Briere's smart, engaged entrance into the business side of the game is similar to the way he approached things as a player. At 5-foot-9 and 174 pounds, Briere used smarts and toughness to score 30 goals four times and play in two NHL All-Star Games; he finished his career with 307 goals and 696 points in 973 games with the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Flyers, Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche.
The Flyers will honor Briere on Tuesday prior to their game against the Sabres. In his six seasons with the Flyers he had 124 goals and 283 points in 364 games. The Flyers went to the postseason five times with Briere, including the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.
"He's one of those guys that he would find ways to score big goals and make a big play at a big time in an important game," said Flyers forward Matt Read, who at 5-10 and 185 pounds has a similar size and playing style as Briere. They were teammates during Read's first two NHL seasons. "He was a fun guy to watch. Offensively he had a different knack than everyone else. He could find a spot to get the puck and make a play."
Where Briere really made his mark was in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. His 72 points in 68 playoff games are seventh on the Flyers' all-time list, and his 1.06 points-per-game average is fourth. Since 2005-06, Briere's 51 postseason goals are second among all players, and his 113 points are fourth.
During the 2010 playoffs he led all players with 12 goals and 30 points, a single-playoff Flyers record. He scored the series-clinching goal in the first round against the New Jersey Devils, and in Game 7 of their historic second-round series against the Boston Bruins he scored the game-tying goal in the second period. In six games against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Cup Final he had 12 points, second to Wayne Gretzky for most in a Final. Briere and his linemates, Ville Leino and Scott Hartnell, scored 11 of the Flyers' 22 goals in the Final.
"They came up big for us, that line," said Craig Berube, an assistant coach for the Flyers in 2010. "They were very good. … Danny, in my opinion, made that line go. He was the key to getting the big goals. Always doing something special at the right time."
Briere also did a lot of right things off the ice during his time with the Flyers.
"He wasn't a guy that would yell or get in people's faces but he was a quiet leader," Read said. "He would pull you aside and have a 1-on-1 conversation with you once in a while. … Great leader in the locker room for the younger guys in the locker room my first couple years."
Briere developed a special bond with Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who moved into Briere's house during the 2010-11 season.
"Terrible cook," Giroux said of Briere the landlord. "But just being around, being with his kids, playing around, he's a pretty great guy. … Off the ice he was just a gentleman. I don't know a lot of people that don't like Danny."
Briere has brought that same attitude to his post-playing days.
"He's doing a lot of things for us, fan-related stuff," Holmgren said. "And in kind we're letting him sit in on a lot of meetings. He's had sit-downs with our marketing people, a lot of different departments, to see what their specific jobs entail. Things like that. It's a good background for him, good working knowledge of how organizations in the NHL work. We'll see where it goes."