Briere Feeling Strong; Excited for Season
Flyers center ready to rebound from trying year
Tuesday, 07.21.2009 / 1:58 PM / News
By Kevin Kurz - philadelphiaflyers.com
(Voorhees, NJ) – For most folks in the hockey world the summer is a time to relax, spend time with friends and family, soak up some sun and take it down a notch or two from the hectic, almost non-stop pace of the season.
For Danny Briere, though, these months are for something else.
“The most important part of the summer is definitely my training,” he said on Tuesday from the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone. “That’s where the focus is, trying to get back on top of my game.”
|Danny Briere played in just 29 regular season games last year, with a recurring groin injury. (Getty Images)|
Briere suffered through a 2008-09 season marred with a recurring groin problem. It began in late October, and he didn’t come back full-time until the beginning of March. Although Briere played through the stretch run and playoffs, he was never quite himself, unable to generate the quick bursts of speed that are so essential to his success.
He is one of only a few players that are in town as the dog days of summer draw near.
“It was a very testing year [last year]. Testing the patience, especially,” he said. “Obviously, it didn’t go the way I expected it to go, but it’s in the past now. You try to learn from that. I’m actually very, very excited about our team going into this season. That’s what has been pushing me to work out even harder now.
“I’m starting to feel strong again. I’m trying to find that explosion that I used to have two years ago. Health-wise I feel great, and I’m ready for a big year.”
In the third year of an eight-year contract, Briere has averaged almost a point-per-game in his tenure as a Flyer (97 points in 108 games). The Flyers are hoping that a healthy Briere, along with an up-and-coming Claude Giroux, will fill the void left by departed forwards Mike Knuble (who signed as a free agent with the Washington Capitals) and Joffrey Lupul (traded to Anaheim as part of the Chris Pronger deal).
Briere thinks that on paper, the Flyers have improved the team from last season with the additions of Pronger and free agents Ian Laperriere, Ray Emery and Brian Boucher.
“That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about next season; finally being able to play, but also with the moves that we made I think that we’ll have a very good team.”
Regarding Laperriere, Briere knows the tenacious forward from his younger days.
“We played on the same junior team growing up, and I followed in his footsteps in Drummondville. He’s going to be a player the fans are going to love around here. He’s gritty, a great penalty killer, first one to come to the rescue of any of his teammates, and a heart-and-soul player. You can never have too many of those guys.”
Briere was also asked for his thoughts on the Winter Classic, which will pit the Flyers in Boston against the Bruins at Fenway Park on January 1, 2010.
“It brings back memories of playing outside with my buddies on a rink that my dad used to build,” he said. “I’ve been watching the last two in Buffalo and Chicago, and I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great event.”
Another trip to London for Carter
The Flyers released their preseason schedule on Monday, which will feature a game in London, Ontario for the sixth time. The opponent will be the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are a short distance away from the John Labatt Centre.
Jeff Carter is a London native, and is always excited to play in his backyard.
“Not everybody gets to play an NHL game in front of their hometown fans and family and friends. It’s always exciting to go back,” he said.
“I always get a pretty warm reception even though I didn’t play my junior hockey in London, but I’d like to think that I’ve made some fans up there. It’s pretty cool.”
The Flyers own an all-time record of 4-1-0 and have outscored their opponents by a 21-10 margin in the five games in London. In previous years, the Flyers have taken on the New York Islanders (2008; 4-0 win), Ottawa Senators (2007; 4-0 win), Pittsburgh Penguins (2006; 2-1 loss), Atlanta Thrashers (2005; 8-6 win) and Washington Capitals (2003; 4-2 win).
Tickets for the game in London will go on sale sometime next week.