When you think of a hockey player, the image that comes into your head is usually a hulking athlete. A 6 foot 5 monster who could hip check you through your car door. What most people don’t imagine is a guy who is almost a foot smaller than his opponents. That’s what people told Danny Briere, they told him he was too small to ever be an NHL player. Danny Briere who has had 696 career points. Danny Briere who is 7th all time in career playoff points (116). The man who could topple giants as well as he could sneak a goal in. He took their criticism and used it to fuel himself and become the playoff powerhouse we love.
When Briere’s contract expired at the end of the 06-07 season, he signed with the previously last place Flyers for a huge eight-year, $52 million contract, complete with a no-trade clause. Briere had said that part of his decision to come to Philadelphia after playing for the Sabres was the level of anonymity that he could get. But Briere quickly became a fan favorite in Philadelphia, eventually becoming permanently associated with the orange and black. In Briere’s first season in Philadelphia, he was second in scoring with 72 points.
In 2010, Briere solidified his reputation as “Mr. Playoffs” by leading all players in the 2010 Playoffs with 30 points (12 goals and 18 assists) breaking the record for post-season points by a Flyer. He also had 12 points in the 2010 Cup Final series against the Blackhawks, just one point lower than Wayne Gretzky’s record of 13 points in a final.
In his six years with the Flyers, Briere has been anything but anonymous. It wasn’t only his on-ice play that won fans over. His frequent involvement in the community made him that much more popular to Philly. Stories like Kaylin’s Tale, from the Orange&Black Pack about a young Flyers fan who struggled with autism and a rare muscular disorder, and looked up to Briere and Flyers hockey as an escape from bullying, have cemented Briere in Philadelphian hearts.
Briere also sits on the board of directors for the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation providing equipment and the chance to play hockey to children who would otherwise, not be able to afford it.
When the Flyers used one of their compliance buyouts on Briere, he found a new team in Montreal and then Colorado, but not a new home. Part of his decision to retire was influenced by his family, who stayed in Philadelphia while he moved around. “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.” Briere said in his official announcement.
The writing was on the wall last season when The Avalanche, a non-playoff team, was playing Briere less and less. With his role constantly diminishing after leaving Philadelphia, Many assumed that Briere’s career was coming to a close. Briere ended his career with 8 goals and 12 points in 57 games with Colorado last season.
Briere was an excellent hockey player who became a playoff superstar despite his size and people telling him that he could never play in the NHL. He was a high impact player for the Flyers and helped turn a last place team into a playoff team. But there was so much more to him than his life as a hockey player. And for all he’s done, he will always be remembered in Orange and Black.
“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.”
Congratulations on an amazing career, Philly loves you.