After this evening’s game against the Ottawa Senators, Danny Briere, who remains out of the lineup following a concussion, has eight more games left in the season.
Briere “pushed” things today at the morning skate, he said, and needs to see how he’s feeling on Friday. If he has no symptoms – he hasn’t had any for about four days - then he’ll play Saturday in Buffalo.
Briere is likely down to his final eight games as a Flyer. He’s an obvious option for an amnesty buyout this summer with two years left on his deal at a team-high $6.5 million cap hit.
The buyout would cost the Flyers $3.3 million, or two-thirds of what he is owed, which is $5 million after this season.
Briere’s deal, signed in 2007 as a free agent, was eight years, $52 million.
He admitted on Thursday he’s playing to remain a Flyer, and that he understands amnesty is a legitimate obstacle right now. He almost concedes it’s going to happen this summer, regardless.
“Definitely,” he said. “It’s reality. There’s no doubt about it. But at the same time, those are things I can’t control at this moment. All I can control is for me to come back into the lineup and play as good as I can, to show them. Other than that, I can’t worry about injuries or what they are going to decide to do. That’s out of my control at this point.
“It was agreed by both the players and owners. So no, I can’t complain about that. I end up being the one to pay the price. But you know what, there have been so many good things that turned in my favor over the years that I won’t complain about that.”
The salary cap of $70.2 million goes down to $64.3 million next season. The amnesty clauses, which expire one year from this summer, were enacted to allow teams to gradually get under the cap coming out of the lockout.
This will be Briere’s 10th consecutive game missed because of a concussion suffered in practice on March 23.
The 35-year-old is having his worst season as a Flyer with just five goals and 13 points in 26 games played. He’s been on 11 different lines this season.
He suffered a chip fracture in his left wrist playing in Europe during the lockout, missed the first four games of the shortened season, and returned to play on the wing – not center - and has been there ever since.
A four-time 30-goal or better scorer over his 15-year career, Briere says if he gets healthy, he can be that player again.
It has to be asked how much playing on the wing affected him this season. During stretches over his career, he was far less effective on the wing than at center.
“We will never know,” he said. “I’ve played center my whole life. I obviously feel more comfortable in the middle. Whatever Lavy [coach Peter Laviolette] decides is the best is where I am going to play to help the team. I would prefer to play center, everybody knows that. At the same time, with all the centers we have, he felt I would be more helpful on the wing.”
A class act, Briere never asked Laviolette to move him to center because he respected the coaches’ right to make a team decision, not an individual one.
Historically, Briere is among the best in the game when it comes to the playoffs where his level of play jumps dramatically.
He has 109 points (50 goals) in 108 playoff games. In the last three years, he leads the NHL in playoff points with 52.
“It’s been up and down for everybody this year,” he said. “It’s frustrating. You can’t change what is in the past. You got to look ahead. As long as I am gonna believe in myself, I will try to get back.”
Briere said he would not have considered amnesty ramifications had he been healthy at the trade deadline and if the Flyers had come to him with a deal to move him to Boston, which wanted him, prior to his concussion.
“There was no plan to go anywhere,” said Briere, who has a no-movement clause. “I believe in this team. I want to be [here]. I can’t control if they decide to buy me out, but this is where I want to be at this point. Kids being here (Briere has three sons), it'd be tough to go somewhere else. I want to be here and I will try everything in my power to stay here.”
Is amnesty unfair?
“I don’t think so,” Briere said. “With missing half a season, everyone understands revenues were going to do down. A lot of teams already had prepared for two, three, four seasons ahead. So those teams were going to pay the price. … It’s a chance for them to … help them out with the new CBA.”
He talked to his three boys – ages 11,13,14 - about the future and likely having to move this summer, he said, but not in terms of the amnesty clause, per se.
“They understand a little bit what is going on here, and they hear kids in school,” he said. “It’s part of reality.”
What did he tell them?
“You never quit,” Briere said. “Things can change in a hurry.”
Laviolette ran many different line combinations at the morning skate. … Joey Mullen’s son, Patrick, participated in Wednesday’s optional skate with the Flyers, as well as with today’s scratches during their scrimmage session. … Briere said it was hard watching the Flyers fight for their playoffs lives and sit out, but he needs to assure himself he no longer has symptoms. “It frustrating,” he said. “You feel like you are letting your teammates down.”