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Flyers Counting on a Healthy Briere

Friday, 09.25.2009 / 10:43 AM / News
By Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com
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Flyers Counting on a Healthy Briere
After a season mostly lost to groin and abdominal injuries, Flyers forward Danny Briere feels better and is ready to contribute.
(Philadelphia, PA) - Danny Briere had the best -- and worst -- seat in the house for 53 Philadelphia Flyers games last season.

That's how many he was forced to miss due to a pair of surgeries needed to repair torn abdominal muscles.

He did score 11 goals in the 29 games he was able to play, but he was far from the player who had more than 30 goals each of the previous two seasons.
Danny Briere scores a goal past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the second period of a first-round NHL hockey playoff game Saturday, April 25, 2009, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

Briere first suffered the injury in late October, and when it didn't heal after a few days of rest, he had surgery Nov. 11 that sidelined him for a month. In his first game back he re-injured himself, needed a second surgery, and was out until March.

All the while, Briere seethed because he had to watch games rather than play in them.

"It was way tougher watching the games then what I had to go through as far as rehab and all that stuff," he told NHL.com. "Feeling like you should be out there…when you feel like you should be out there playing and you have to watch and not be able to do anything about it, that's way tougher than having to rehab."

As hard as it was for Briere to watch, he also had to deal with near-constant criticism from the fickle Philadelphia fans. They looked at Briere's extended absence, and rather than wait patiently for his return, saw him and the eight-year, $52 million contract he signed in July 2007 as an obstacle to making the team better.

Briere said he heard and read the nastiness, but said no one wants him to succeed more than he does.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself," said Briere. "I know I can be that player I was two years ago and in Buffalo. That's what's pushing me to get back to where I was. I want to prove it to myself and I know I can do it. Hockey is a business, 'What can you do for me now?' People don't care what you did two years ago or last season. Things start to go well and you go on a roll, people will forget what happened last year. That's the way I approach the season. I want to get it done and I know I will."

"Those kinds of comments can be hurtful," Flyers coach John Stevens told NHL.com, "but Danny's passion and drive is to help the team and help the organization that brought him here. He wants to help this team win. He was brought here to win a championship. He knows he was brought here to do that and he wants to do everything in his power to do that."

Stevens said he empathized with the frustration Briere felt last season, but has reminded Briere how important he is to the team heading into the 2009-10 season.

"I think it's going to mean a lot," Stevens said of having a healthy Briere this season. "If you look at our team, with (Mike) Knuble and (Joffrey) Lupul moving on, I think it's going to be important for Danny to be healthy. He's a veteran guy on our team that we count on heavily and having him healthy will be big for us."

Briere has played center most of his NHL career, but the Flyers are stacked down the middle with Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, newly acquired Ian Laperriere and Claude Giroux, who emerged as a scoring sensation in the middle in Briere's absence. With the departures of Lupul and Knuble, the team's top two right wings last season, Stevens said Briere will see most of his time this season there.

"I know Danny's played the wing before in Buffalo," said Stevens, who also has played Briere on the wing on lines centered by Richards and Giroux. "I think he's going to be an effective guy we can count on."

In the middle or along the wall, it doesn't matter to Briere, as long as he's playing.

"We've had a few talks about that," said Briere. "I made that perfectly clear with John, that I don't care playing center or the wing, whatever he feels is going to help the team the most. I don't have a problem either way. I'll let him decide what he feels is going to be best for the team. I honestly don't care at all."

To that end, he returned to Philadelphia earlier than usual this summer to spend extra time working with Flyers trainer Jim McCrossin.

"It was mostly about quickness, plyometrics," said Briere. "I have to get my quickness and strength back in that (groin) area. Being a smaller player, that's how I get by. I have to find a way to get away from the big guys. If I don't have the quickness, it takes away one of the most important parts of my game."

Knowing the player's character, Stevens has little doubt Briere will return with a vengeance this season.

"I'm excited for Danny," Stevens said. "I think Danny is going to have a great year. He was frustrated last year and kept trying to get back and hit road block after road block. I'm excited for him. He's healthy, he's trained hard, and I think his play is going to be indicative of where he is physically."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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