A statement released by GM Paul Holmgren this afternoon is as follows:
“I met with Danny last week and informed him of our decision to use a compliance buy out on his contract. This was a very difficult decision for us to make as Danny has been a very good player for us over the past six years. Danny came to our organization as a free agent in July of 2007 and has been a tremendous player, person and role model in all aspects and for that we thank him. We wish him continued success and best wishes in any future endeavors.”
Technically, Briere, a resident of Haddonfield, NJ, will remain with the club until 48 hours after the Cup winner has been decided, per the rules of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but he’s as good as gone.
A plucky undersized winger who at times dazzled and frustrated the fan base, Briere totaled just six goals and 16 points in 34 games in 2013. He endured a 19-game goal drought from mid-February until the second-to-last game of the schedule, after suffering through a 23-game dry spell last season from January through mid-March.
The money owed the 35-year-old Briere was not necessarily the problem. Rather, it was the cap number.
Although he was due to make only $5 million over the final two years of the eight-year, $52 million deal he signed as a free agent in 2007, Briere still would have counted $6.5 million against the cap. That’s problematic as the salary cap for 2013-14 is set to be roughly $6 million lower than it was this past truncated season.
The Flyers will now have to pay Briere 75 percent of the remaining money he is owed over the next four years ($937,500 per season).
Briere totaled 124 goals and 159 assists in 364 regular-season games with the Flyers.
The Quebec native earned the moniker as “Mr. Playoffs” for putting up sterling postseason numbers while in Philadelphia. He compiled 37 goals and 72 points in 68 playoff games as a Flyer and set a franchise record for points in a single postseason with 30 during (12G, 18A) Philadelphia’s surprise run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. He was also a galvanizing force in the 2008 playoff run to the conference finals, tallying key goals in the second round against the Habs, and was a secondary factor in the domination against Pittsburgh in a first-round victory two Springs ago.
For his career, Briere has registered 286 goals and 373 assists in 847 games with Phoenix, Buffalo and the Flyers.
“I just want to say thank you to all the fans and my teammates for the wonderful last six years here,” Briere said to a media assemblage following the revelation. “Also, I want to thank the Flyers organization for treating me so well during my stay here. I will always be grateful to everyone around the team for my time spent as a Flyer.”
If there is any justice and if the hockey gods are good, then Briere, a class act to all he encountered, will be rewarded thusly: bought out by the Flyers, signed by the Coyotes who then move to Quebec City and become the Nordiques Mark II, where Briere will don the new uniform of his childhood team and then stick it to the Canadiens and the bitter Montreal fans who only just stopped booing him every time he touched the puck at Bell Centre.
It’s one thing to be jettisoned because you’re up against an increasing cap with a gaggle of impressive new talent — as R.J. Umberger was shipped to Columbus five years ago today — but it’s another when consistent misunderstanding of financial reality forces your hand.
There are holes in Briere’s game for sure, but as he approaches the end of his prime, he’ll soon gain importance as that “veteran presence” other clubs will seek in pursuit of a Stanley Cup. He’ll bring it, as the closest thing to a 21st Century Claude Lemieux as there is in the NHL.