By Mary Cunningham
Center Danny Briere was a Flyer mainstay for six years and a 17-year NHL veteran.
And, in a bylined story today in Le Droit, a French paper in his home town of Gatineau, Quebec, he hung up his skates.
Briere, 37, played for the Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche. He scored 307 goals and had 696 points in 973 regular-season games, and had 53 goals and 116 points in 124 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
“This is not a decision that can be taken lightly. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks,” Briere wrote. “In fact, I first began bouncing the idea around in my head last winter, when I was in Colorado. I felt far away from my children, who stayed in Philadelphia. It wasn’t really an easy situation for me. … I’m putting an end to my career in order to become more involved in the lives of my three boys. They are at an age when it is crucial to have a father at home.
“This summer, the more time I spent with them, the less I saw myself leaving home one more time to start up the engine for another season. If I took my time before making my decision, it was because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making the wrong one.”
Selected in the first round (No. 24) of the 1996 NHL Draft by the Coyotes, spent parts of six seasons in Phoenix before he was traded to the Sabres during the 2002-03 season. Briere had the best offensive season of his career with Buffalo in 2006-07, scoring 32 goals and finishing with 95 points in 81 games.
“Even if I’ve been thinking about my retirement for a little while, I haven’t yet taken the time to look back on my career. It’s as if I haven’t reached that point yet,” he said.
“Over the past 18 years there have been many great moments. I’ve made a number of friends and I’ve experienced many things I will never forget. It’s true that I haven’t reached my ultimate goal. I’ve never won the Stanley Cup. But when I look back quickly, I can say that I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished up until now.”
Briere was an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2007, signed an eight-year contract with the Flyers and helped them make the playoffs in five of his six seasons in Philly before he was bought out in the summer of 2013. He had 70 goals and 146 points in 258 games with the Flyers but scored 36 goals and had 68 points in 62 playoff games, including a franchise-record 30 points (12 goals) in 23 games in 2010, when the Flyers advanced to the Stanley Cup Final before losing to theChicago Blackhawks in six games.
While he doesn’t know what the future holds, Briere hasn’t ruled out a return to the Flyers in the future.
“It might not be finished,” Briere said. “Even if my priority over the coming months is to stay close to home, I could find some time to get involved with the Flyers here in Philadelphia. I’ve always been treated well by the organization and I would be proud to have a role with them.
Nothing is set or official. I haven’t accepted a full-time position with them. I’ve always been a hockey fan. I’ve always loved the game. That won’t change.”
In a statement to the Flyers website, Briere said: “The Flyers are where I played the bulk of my career. I’ve had a great time in Philadelphia and have been very, very fortunate to have the chance to play here. I would like to thank [owner Ed] Snider, Paul Holmgren and [former team president] Peter Luukko along with the coaches, staff, the fans and all my teammates. It’s been a great ride in an area that I still call home.”
Briere signed a two-year contract with the Canadiens prior to the 2013-14 season and was traded to the Avalanche on June 30, 2014. He finished his career with eight goals and 12 points in 57 games with Colorado last season.
“I was very conscious of the situation I found myself in,” Briere told the paper. “With the season we had last year, and with my ice time being cut on a team that didn’t make the playoffs, I realize it would not have been easy for me to find another job in the NHL.”