Philadelphia Flyers

Danny Briere: Facing the Flyers won't be easy

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Danny Briere: Facing the Flyers won't be easy

Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux both lived with Danny Briere for a time.
 
Couturier, however, was his housemate, along with Briere’s three boys, for 18 months.

“We talked once in a while and are still in touch -- he’s a good friend,” Couturier said. “It’s a special game for both of us.

“You are with him almost 24/7. Since Day One, he took me under his wing and kind of adopted me. I felt like a big brother to his kids, his boys. It was a fun experience.”
 
It’s one thing to go up against former teammates, but imagine how awkward it’s going to be Saturday in Montreal for all three players when the Flyers meet the Canadiens for the first time this season.
 
“Facing guys I have been with a lot of years, the past few seasons, guys I had a chance to live with, it’s kind of a weird feeling,” Briere said. “You’re excited to see them, but it’s also weird to face them. We all know when the puck drops, it gets competitive. I know these guys are the same way. They’re not going to give me an inch out there.
 
“It’s never easy when you face ex-teammates. I remember my first few games facing Buffalo with the Flyers, they were always tough games, mentally to get ready for and also on the ice. You have to shut off the fact they’re you buddies and try to move on for that three-hour span.”
 
The Flyers bought Briere out of the final two years of his contract last June. He was owed just $5 million in real dollars (not salary cap dollars). Briere ended up signing a two-year deal with Montreal worth $8 million overall.
 
“There’s no hard feelings,” he said. “I said it the day I talked to you guys after the Flyers bought me out. There are no hard feelings. They were very respectful ... Honestly, I have no complaints. It was agreed upon, it was fair and the Flyers needed to get under the cap. I understand. You move on.”
 
Briere spent much of August training with the Flyers at Skate Zone in Voorhees. His boys live in Haddonfield, NJ, with his ex-wife. They will get to fly back and forth to Montreal as their school schedule, plus the Canadiens' schedule, permits.
 
“It’s working out good,” Briere said. “In today’s world with all the communications that we have, it’s a lot easier to communicate and stay in touch. Last year, I got a little taste of it with playing in Europe during the lockout. It’s not ideal but we make it work.”
 
Briere had been the Flyers' biggest offensive threat in the playoffs during his six years here. Besides leading the NHL in the 2010 playoffs with 30 points, Briere compiled 37 goals, 35 assists for 72 points in 68 playoff games -- better than a point-a-game player as a Flyer.
 
Briere was minus-1 in Montreal’s season-opening 4-3 loss to Toronto. He played on David Desharnais’ line with Max Pacioretty.
 
He was honored pregame when Montreal allowed him to accept the torch from Habs legend Guy Lafleur, a tradition before every hockey season symbolizing handing the reins of leadership of the team.
 
“Yeah, it was a pretty special feeling and very special night,” Briere said. “I think the Montreal Canadiens organization showed a lot of class by giving me that chance to be the first one to get that torch from one of the all-time greats in Guy Lafleur.
 
It’s different being a French-Canadien playing in Quebec than being American or even a Canadian from another province.
 
When he didn’t sign with Montreal as a free agent after leaving Buffalo seven years ago, people in Quebec felt betrayed. Briere was booed every time he touched the puck during the six years he was a Flyer.
 
Back then, he was younger -- had not even turned 30 -- and admitted he didn’t want the pressure of playing in Montreal. Now it’s different. He’s older -- turns 36 in two days -- and far more mature.
 
“Everyone is different,” he said. “There are players out there that it doesn’t affect them. The media pressure just won’t affect them. Other guys would rather stay away from it. They’d rather play in a quiet place and do their job and not be bothered.
 
“We all have different personalities. It works for certain guys and doesn’t work as well for other guys. I really believe it is easier as you get older and get to know yourself better. You’re a little bit more mature.”
 
He’s had one major adjustment in Montreal from Philly.
 
“Having to do interviews in French and English,” he said. “Whatever it takes, 15-20 minutes, you have to double that. I was coming in knowing that and expecting it from the start. At my age, too, it might be easier to face that, deal with that than if I were 20, 21, 22 years old.”
 
The Flyers had trouble scoring goals last season, had trouble scoring goals this preseason, and got just one against the Maple Leafs.
 
Briere said there was too much offensive talent on the Flyers for scoring to become a serious issue with them. He did add …
 
“Hopefully, it lasts one more game."

Andre Markov to return to Russia to play in KHL

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Andre Markov to return to Russia to play in KHL

You can mark off Andrei Markov as a potential training camp tryout. Markov said he talked to a few NHL organizations during the free agency period but has elected to move back to Russia to play in the KHL.  

“I couldn’t see myself playing with any other NHL teams,” Markov said Thursday afternoon during a conference call. 

Thursday, the Canadiens bid farewell to Markov, who spent the past 16 seasons in Montreal, the only NHL team the defenseman has ever played for.  

According to published reports, Markov, who turns 39 in December, had been seeking a two-year contract in the $6 million range, but was willing to settle for one year to stay in Montreal. However, the Canadiens elected to go considerably cheaper in signing former Flyers defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year deal for just $700,000.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has shot down previous reports the Flyers were the only team negotiating with Markov during free agency.  

“No. That’s not true. Don’t believe everything you hear,” Hextall said after returning from the NHL draft.  

However, Hextall also made it clear that he’s looking bring in a veteran defenseman on a camp tryout as a backup in case one of the younger defensive prospects may not be ready to start the season at the NHL level. Had Markov been willing to come in on a tryout basis, the Flyers would have been interested.

With Markov’s decision and the recent signings of Streit and Johnny Oduya committing to the Senators, the prospective free-agent pool of defensemen is beginning to thin out with Francois Beauchemin, Dennis Wideman and Cody Franson as veteran blueliners still looking for a job for next season.

NHL Notes: Bruins, Ryan Spooner avoid arbitration with 1-year deal

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NHL Notes: Bruins, Ryan Spooner avoid arbitration with 1-year deal

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins and center Ryan Spooner avoided arbitration on the day of their hearing, agreeing to a one-year, $2,825,000 deal Wednesday.

The 25-year-old Spooner became a restricted free agent July 1 after finishing a two-year contract that was worth $950,000 per season.

Spooner said that he didn't want to go through the hearing because it's "not a pleasant thing" and he didn't think the Bruins wanted to participate, either. He's the 24th player to settle this summer without a hearing after filing for arbitration.

Spooner can be a restricted free agent again next summer.

"For me, I'm going to spin that into a positive and say that I'm going to take that as a challenge to have a good year and show that I can be the player that they want me to be," Spooner said during a conference call. "And then on the (other) side too, it kind of just shows that they need to see a little bit more out of me as a player. There's a lot of things that I can also bring to the table that I need to work on" (see full story).

Devils: Five forwards re-signed to deals
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Devils have re-signed Stefan Noesen and four other forwards who spent most of last season with New Jersey's top minor-league franchise in Albany, New York.

General manager Ray Shero announced the signings of Noesen, Blake Coleman, Blake Pietila, Kevin Rooney and Ben Thomson on Wednesday.

Noesen, who split the 2016-17 season between Anaheim, San Diego (AHL) and New Jersey, got a one-year, two-way contract worth $660,000 at the NHL level. The Plano, Texas native had six goals in 32 regular-season games with the Devils.

Pietila signed a two-year, two-way contract with an average annual salary of $667,500 at the NHL level. The 24-year-old had an assist in 10 games with New Jersey.

Coleman got a one-year, two-way contract worth $660,000 at the NHL level. He played in 23 regular-season games for the Devils and had a goal and an assist.

Thomson and Rooney each signed one-year, two-way contracts worth $650,000 at the NHL level. Rooney played in four regular-season games with the Devils, one more than Thomson.

Coyotes: MacLean, Allen hired as assistants
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes hired John MacLean and Scott Allen on Wednesday as assistant coaches on Rick Tocchet's staff.

MacLean played 18 NHL seasons with four teams before becoming an assistant coach in the New Jersey Devils organization for seven seasons. He was an assistant with the Carolina Hurricanes from 2011-14 and served as an analyst for the NHL Network from 2015-17.

A former minor league player, Allen served as an assistant coach with the New York Rangers from 2009-12 and has held numerous coaching jobs in the minors, most recently with the San Antonio Rampage.

The Coyotes also hired Mike Van Ryn as head coach of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team's AHL affiliate.

Tocchet was hired earlier this month to replace Dave Tippett.

Sharks: Barr hired as assistant coach
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Sharks have hired Dave Barr as an assistant coach on Peter DeBoer's staff.

Barr will serve as the team's "eye in the sky" this season. Barr had previously worked with DeBoer for four years in New Jersey and helped the Devils make the Stanley Cup Final in 2012.

Barr was associate coach in Florida last season and has also been an NHL assistant with Buffalo, Minnesota and Colorado.

Barr joins assistants Steve Spott and Rob Zettler, goaltending coach Johan Hedberg and video coach Dan Darrow on the staff.