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Now with Canadiens, Briere to face Flyers

by Arpon Basu /

MONTREAL -- It didn't take very long for Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell to see his longtime friend and linemate Daniel Briere, now a member of the Montreal Canadiens.

Though the meeting wasn't face to face, it left an impression on Hartnell.

"We landed [Friday] and driving on the highway to downtown there's a big billboard of Danny B," Hartnell said Saturday. "We weren't even in the city two minutes and we were already seeing his face all over the place."

They will see him on the ice when the Flyers and Canadiens play at Bell Centre on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, RDS, CSN-PH).

Daniel Briere
Daniel Briere
Center - MTL
G: 0 | A: 0 | P: 0
SOG: 4 | +/-: -1
Briere spent six seasons with the Flyers before his contract was bought out in the offseason. He sits 29th on the franchise scoring list with 283 points and is sixth in Stanley Cup Playoff scoring with 72 points in 68 games.

"Danny's such a nice guy and he's had such a terrific career, he certainly did a lot for us down in Philadelphia," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "When players leave, you wish them well and hope they don't hurt you too much on the side of the fence. He was a good player for the Flyers for a long time. It's great to see players when they leave find their way and fit in, and hopefully that happens here in Montreal."

Briere's postseason performances made him a fan favorite in Philadelphia, and he said he will be happy once this game is out of the way and behind him on the calendar.

"I can't wait for the first period to be over," Briere said after practice Friday. "I think after the first it will be a little easier to move on and the first step will be taken."

Hartnell had more or less the same feelings, noting that each team will be hungry for a win after dropping its first game of the season, each against the Toronto Maple Leafs. But he couldn't help but laugh when asked if he would be looking to get Briere off his game by intimidating him a little bit.

"I don't know if I want to tangle with him or if he doesn't want to tangle with me," Hartnell said. "He's a feisty little guy. He definitely goes to the hard areas to score goals, he's in front of the net, he's in the corners, he can make plays. We have to be aware when he's on the ice of what he can do."

Briere had a long relationship with Hartnell, and a unique one with Flyers centers Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, each of whom lived with Briere when they first made the NHL. Briere will have a lot of very familiar faces wearing sweaters of a different color when the puck drops.

"You try to approach the game like it's any other one," Briere said, "but obviously there's a little bit more on the line with your friends and trying to prove something with them."

Briere facing his former team is not the only interesting subplot. One of the players the Flyers signed to replace Briere will be facing his hometown Montreal crowd for the first time with Philadelphia, and it should be interesting to see how Vincent Lecavalier is received.

He was bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning and signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the Flyers, turning down an offer from the Canadiens. Briere did something similar six years ago when he signed with Philadelphia, and he was booed every time he visited Bell Centre from that point onward.

So what awaits Lecavalier?

He didn't speak to the media following the Flyers optional morning skate Saturday, but he told Montreal newspaper La Presse he expects his relationship with the city to change.

"I have no idea what to expect," the Montreal native told the newspaper in French in the Saturday edition. "The people of Montreal have always supported me, but now I'll be wearing a Flyers sweater, and I know it's not exactly a team that's loved in Montreal."

When Briere was asked if he had some words of advice to offer Lecavalier, he laughed.

"We can talk about that after the game," he said.

The next one will come Dec. 12, when Briere and the Canadiens play their first game in Philadelphia this season.

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