Skip to main content

Daniel Briere leaves NHL with legacy as a top playoff performer

NHL.com @NHL

VOORHEES, N.J. - Daniel Briere was almost crying on the bench at TD Garden. His Philadelphia Flyers had erased a 3-0 series deficit against the Boston Bruins, only to fall behind 3-0 in Game 7.

"We had put all this time, all this effort to come back," Briere said. "I was furious. I was losing it."

Briere calmed down and scored one of the biggest goals of his career to tie the score, and eventually the Flyers won the game 4-3 and advanced to the 2010 Eastern Conference final. It was just the third time in NHL history a team rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.

In scoring 53 playoff goals and adding 63 assists, Briere cemented his legacy as one of the best post-season performers of his era.

"I'm proud of it, there's no doubt about it," said Briere, who announced his retirement Monday. "I knew when the game was on the line, I wanted to be the guy who was going to make the play. I wanted to have the puck, I wanted to find a way to make it happen."

With 116 points in 124 Stanley Cup playoff games for the Phoenix Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Flyers and Montreal Canadiens, Briere's 0.935 points a game ranks 85th all-time. Among players with at least 100 post-season games, he's 32nd, just behind the likes of Maurice Richard, Brett Hull and Steve Yzerman.

The Gatineau, Que., native never won a Stanley Cup, coming two victories away in 2010. But he decided to call it quits after 17 seasons to spend more time with his three teenage sons.

Knowing he could no longer be a "top-end" player after one final season with the Colorado Avalanche, the 37-year-old on Tuesday reflected on sticking around in the NHL for so long as a five-foot-eight forward who many thought couldn't make it out if the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

"NHL executives or experts, ex-players ... had made some comments and had seen me play and most of the people all said that I was too small, too fragile to play in the NHL," Briere said during a news conference at the Flyers' practice facility near his home. "I had a lot of those cut-ups in my room. I had a little box that I kept by my bed that any time things would get tough a little bit that I would open and read and keep up. That was kind of my motivation at the time to prove them wrong."

Briere's rocky journey took him to the AHL and even the International Hockey League before he played a full NHL season. He finished with 307 goals and 389 assists in 973 regular-season games.

"There was a lot of tough times, tough moments ??? clearing waivers when nobody picked me up," Briere said. "That's another thing that I'm very proud of, that I fought and I never quit, and I kept working hard to achieve my dream."

Briere made it to the Eastern Conference final with the Sabres in 2006 and 2007 before signing a US$52-million, eight-year deal with the Flyers. Along with Scott Gomez and Buffalo teammate Chris Drury, Briere was part of a star-studded free-agent class and turned out to be the best of the three.

"We were high-fiving pretty much that day once we got word Danny was heading our way," said Flyers president Paul Holmgren, who was GM at the time. "I remember when he came in a few days later, he sat in my office and he thanked me, and I think I said, 'No, thank you for coming.'"

Briere helped the Flyers to the 2008 conference final and then the 2010 Cup final before they bought out the final two years of his deal in the summer of 2013. It was at that point he got to fulfil a lifelong dream of playing for his hometown team.

And while his one season with the Canadiens wasn't the highlight of his career, it was his fifth trip to the conference final and an experience he's thankful for.

"I leave the game now and for the rest of my life now I can say I was a Montreal Canadien," Briere said. "When I go back home, I can say that I've played for the Montreal Canadiens, which is pretty cool."

---

Follow @SWhyno on Twitter

View More