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Briere was grateful for chance to play with Canadiens

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Among his list of accomplishments gained through the course of 17 years in the NHL, one that Daniel Briere cherishes greatly is the one that hits closest to home for the native of Gatineau, Quebec.

"I leave the game now and for the rest of my life now I can say I was a Montreal Canadien," Briere said Tuesday during his retirement press conference at Virtua Flyers Skate Zone, the practice facility of the Philadelphia Flyers. "When I go back home, I can say that I've played for the Montreal Canadiens, which is pretty cool, for me personally."

Briere played for the Canadiens for one season (2013-14), and it wasn't even a good season by his standards; he scored 13 goals and had 25 points in 68 games after signing a two-year, $8 million contract with Montreal after getting bought out by the Flyers in the summer of 2013. The Canadiens traded him to the Colorado Avalanche last summer.

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However, instead of recalling his lone season in Montreal as a disappointment, Briere remembers the feeling of putting on the historic uniform, representing the historic logo, and the run the Canadiens went on in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Eastern Conference Final.

Montreal swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference First Round and rallied from a 3-2 deficit to defeat the Boston Bruins in seven games in the second round.

"Beating the Bruins in Game 7 in their building, when we came back to Montreal that night, for the fans there it was like winning a mini-Stanley Cup," Briere said. "Beating the Bruins is always special because of the rivalry. To experience that once in my life was something that I'll cherish for a long time."

Briere's time with the Canadiens also helped him mend fences with the fans in Montreal, who did not react kindly when he chose to sign with the Flyers in the summer of 2007 instead of the Canadiens.

"It was really cool to see, I guess, the change from my first couple years [as a Flyer]," Briere said. "Every time I went back [to Montreal] I wouldn't let my mom come to the game. I always found an excuse for her to be here in Philadelphia somehow."

The first time he let his mom come see him play for the Flyers in Montreal was Feb. 13, 2010. It became one of the most memorable nights of Briere's career.

"I knew she was very nervous, so before the game, they stopped by the hotel and I came down to the lobby and she grabbed me and she gave me a hug and for the first time in my life, she said, 'I know I never ask you anything like this, but can you please score me a goal tonight?'" Briere said. "It's the night I had the hat trick against the Habs. So that's always going to be a pretty cool moment in my life."

So is playing for the Canadiens. That's one he'll cherish forever.

"I'm glad I experienced it," Briere said.

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