One Final Goodbye to Danny Briere

One Final Goodbye to Danny Briere

By rule, compliance buyouts are allowed to be filed 48 hours after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals, which means Ilya Bryzgalov’s and Danny Briere’s walking papers are surely official by now. The two of them are no longer Flyers, and cannot re-sign with the club even though they become free agents along with everybody else on July 5.

Bryz won’t be missed. People will forget that he set the franchise record for consecutive shutout minutes in 2012, his only lasting legacy on the ice in two seasons of dressing in Orange & Black. Instead he’ll be remembered most of all for being a space cadet on HBO’s ‘24/7,’ his constant feuding with the Philadelphia media, and the insane buyout it took to dump him.

Briere is a different story. He spent six seasons with the Flyers, racking up 283 points in 364 regular season games. True, he could be a liability at times in his own end, but he was always a threat to score or create chances for teammates. By all accounts Briere was a gentleman off the ice as well, and somehow always knew the right thing to say whether it was after a tough loss or in general.

But where Danny Briere really built his Flyers legacy was in the postseason. We know this because when we asked you to share your favorite Briere moments, time and time again they were from the playoffs. There was the time he gave Buffalo netminder Ryan Miller a “love tap” on the head after beating him in a Game 7 in 2011. There was his goal to tie the score in Game 7 in Boston when they were coming back to win the series from down 3-0. That was in 2010 during their run to the Cup Finals, where he found twine to temporarily give Philly the lead in Game 6, although that didn’t quite have a fairy-tale ending.

Briere led the NHL in postseason points that year with a whopping 30, and he might have done so a few more times had the Flyers been able to go deeper more often. In all, No. 48 logged 37 goals and 35 assists in 68 playoff games here – better than a point per game. The man really knew how to turn it on when it counted most.

Not just turn it on, but take over. The Bullies posted a 21-10 record in playoff games where Briere lit the lamp at least once, 5-1 when he found the back of the net twice. They were 13-24 when Briere failed to get on the board. In the 2011 postseason, the Flyers didn’t win a single game where he wasn’t able to score. That’s the sign of a true difference maker right there.

Those were the best Danny Briere moments – any time he was scoring big goals in big games – because that’s what he does best. October through the beginning of April, Briere was a nice player. He always saved the best for last though, when the Stanley Cup was on the line.

That’s when Briere will be missed. With a $6.5 million cap hit that was the highest on the team, his numbers in steep decline and injuries on the rise as he closes in on 36 years of age, amnestying Briere made total sense. The Flyers had to do it. But man, what you wouldn’t give to have him on your side for one last Cup run, because if you could count on one thing from Briere, you were going to see a whole lot of that trademark fist pump along the way.

NHL Notes: Desperate Senators hoping to avoid elimination

NHL Notes: Desperate Senators hoping to avoid elimination

OTTAWA, Ontario -- Guy Boucher has typically kept his team off the ice on off-days during the postseason. Not Monday.

The Ottawa coach opted for a half-hour practice ahead of Game 6 on Tuesday night to help his team "refresh" and "reload" after a 7-0 beating by Pittsburgh, one of the worst losses in team playoff history. Players thought the practice, as well as an encouraging chat beforehand, helped wipe the slate clean as they prepare for an elimination game. The Penguins lead the Eastern Conference final 3-2 and can return to the Stanley Cup Final with a win.

"We can't be sitting in our mud puddle," Boucher told The Canadian Press after practice. "We've got to get up and go."

Reloading against an opponent vying for back-to-back Stanley Cups means reverting back to strengths of the club. In Sunday's blowout loss, Boucher said, he thought his team tried to trade goals with the high-scoring Penguins -- an odd choice for a Senators team that thrives on shutting down opponents.

"If we stay away from our strengths there's no chance," Boucher said on Monday. "We're aware of that. We got slapped -- hard enough. The reality sets back in" (see full story).

NHL: Former All-Star Bill White dies at 77
CHICAGO -- Bill White, a former Chicago Blackhawks all-star defenseman and a member of Canada's 1972 Summit Series team, has died. He was 77.

The Blackhawks announced White's death Monday.

White, a Toronto native, started his career with the Los Angeles Kings in 1967 before being traded to Chicago during the 1969-70 season. He formed an imposing tandem on the Blackhawks' blue line with Pat Stapleton and helped the team reach the playoffs in all seven of his seasons in Chicago.

He appeared in six consecutive All-Star games between 1969 and 1974 and briefly served as head coach of the Blackhawks for the final 46 games of the 1976-77 season.

White finished his career with 50 goals, 215 assists and 495 penalty minutes in 604 NHL games with Los Angeles and Chicago, adding seven goals and 32 assists in 91 playoff appearances.

"The Chicago Blackhawks organization extends its thoughts and heartfelt condolences to Bill White's family as we mourn his loss," the team said. "He will be remembered as a leader, generous teammate and tough player to play against. His energetic style helped the Blackhawks see great success during his tenure with the team."

He joined Canada's squad for the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union after Game 1, finishing with a series-best plus-7 defensive rating while acting as a key part of Canada's penalty-killing unit.

NFL Notes Rams' All-Pro Aaron Donald skips OTAs amid contract talks

NFL Notes Rams' All-Pro Aaron Donald skips OTAs amid contract talks

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald has skipped the Los Angeles Rams' first day of organized team activities while he negotiates a long-term contract extension with the club.

Rams general manager Les Snead says the team knew Donald wouldn't be at their training complex Monday.

Snead acknowledged Donald's absence is because of their contract negotiations, which are reaching "the serious part." The GM is confident Donald will be a long-term fixture on the Rams' line.

The Rams exercised their fifth-year option for 2018 on Donald last month. He will make nearly $7 million next year. Snead has repeatedly said the Rams plan to sign Donald to a long-term deal.

Donald is a three-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro in his three-year career.

Vikings: Zimmer takes time off after latest eye surgery
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer finally relented, taking some time away from the team to allow his right eye a proper recovery from his latest surgery.

Better in the spring than during the fall, he realized.

As Zimmer departed Monday for some rest and relaxation at his vacation ranch in rural Kentucky, general manager Rick Spielman said the organization anticipates a return by Zimmer "in a few weeks." Players will take the field Tuesday for the first of 13 scheduled offseason practices, including the three-day mandatory minicamp that runs June 13-15.

"We all agree Mike's health is the priority, and we believe rest and recovery are in his best interest for the long term," Spielman said.

Zimmer directed a free youth football camp Saturday at team headquarters. He revealed to reporters that he underwent an eighth procedure on the eye last week, a trying seven-month stretch that has included several unplanned operations (see full story).

Jets: Former 2nd-round pick Smith waived
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Wide receiver Devin Smith has been waived from the injury list by the New York Jets.

A second-round draft pick from Ohio State in 2015, Smith rarely saw the field for the Jets. He tore his ACL during the offseason workout program after he appeared in four games last season. He started that season on the physically unable to perform list while rehabbing from another ACL tear suffered in December 2015.

If Smith clears waivers, he would revert to the Jets' injured reserve list.

"It's bad luck and bad timing because the kid worked so hard to get back," coach Todd Bowles said last month during the NFL draft. "He has to persevere and adversity will help him get stronger. But unfortunately in this game, over my course of time playing and coaching, you see these types of things. Some of the best athletes get hurt and don't get a chance to get on the field, and it's just bad timing, bad luck."

The Jets also re-signed wide receiver WR Deshon Foxx on Monday. Foxx originally signed with the Jets in January and was waived May 9. The Connecticut product first signed with Seattle 2015 after going undrafted and was waived/injured with a hamstring injury that August.

Buccaneers: TE Howard signs rookie deal
TAMPA, Fla. -- Tight end O.J. Howard has signed his rookie contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Howard, who was the 19th overall pick in last month's NFL draft, signed a four-year deal on Monday that includes a team option for a fifth season. He is the first of Tampa Bay's six draft picks to sign.

Howard, who is 6-foot-6 and 251 pounds, was a third-team Associated Press All-America selection last season. He started 12 of Alabama's 14 games last season and had 45 receptions for 595 yards and three touchdowns.

The drafting of Howard and signing DeSean Jackson in free agency should give Jameis Winston more options in Tampa Bay's passing game.

The Buccaneers also announced that defensive end Jacquies Smith has signed his restricted free agent tender.