In his final interview with Flyers media, Danny Briere said the Philadelphia area would remain his home, no matter where he ended up for the 2013-14 NHL season.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t use the Flyers’ decision to buy him out as fuel to perform for the Montreal Canadiens, with whom he has signed through 2014-15 (see story).
“I have nothing bad to say about the Flyers,” Briere said Thursday. “But [the buyout] is a source of motivation, sure.”
More than half a dozen teams had expressed interest in the 35-year-old center after it was announced that the remaining two years of his contract would be bought out, despite his difficult final season with the Flyers. Briere had just 16 points (six goals) in 34 games.
In certain ways, his decision to join the Canadiens makes plenty of sense; Briere has friends and family in the Montreal area. But the city is a notoriously difficult one to play in – and its fanbase is known to be unforgiving, particularly on French Canadian players like Briere.
“I've things to prove, sure,” he said. “Got in late last year, what with the injuries. I’m looking forward to redeeming myself. This is why this is an easy decision. There's no better form of motivation, and I will do everything to get back to form. I wish to prove to all that last year was a fluke."
Briere had been a Flyer since 2007-08, when he elected to come to Philadelphia from Buffalo, instead of Montreal, which had been heavily pursing him. That he turned down the Canadiens made him a target of ire in Quebec, and he was regularly booed at the Bell Centre, even years after snubbing the team.
But now, perhaps unlike six years ago, he's ready to play for the Habs.
"I'd say I'm more mature now [than in '07]," Briere said. "Lest we forget, I've played in Philly. ... It's not Montreal, but there is still a lot of pressure there. If I wasn't ready, I wouldn't be here. But I feel ready. At my age, I won't have any other chance at becoming a Canadien."
In that last interview at Skate Zone, Briere said he believes he has at least a couple years of NHL-level play left in him. Though he acknowledges he would have been happy to finish his career in Philadelphia, there is a part of him happy to for the chance to play in Montreal before he retires.
"In my heart of hearts, I always dreamed of one day playing for the Canadiens," Briere said. "And I'm glad to have gotten a second chance. It’s why I'm here now. This is such an honor for me."