Former Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere, who stills holds a special place in the hearts of many Buffalo sports fans, held his retirement news conference today in Philadelphia, where he played six seasons for the Flyers. As expected, the former high-scoring center was classy and thoughtful. Courtesy of the Flyers, here are some highlights from the 37-year-old Briere, who played with the Sabres from late 2002-03 through 2006-07.
On what the future holds:
“There’s many things that I’d like to do moving forward. First and foremost the priority is going to be the (three teenage) boys and the family. All those years when we play, we’re on the road a lot, and especially the last two years being away from the kids, from the family, has been tough at times, so a big part of my reason for putting a stop now is having the chance to spend more time with them.
“The boys are all in high school, they don’t have lot of time left at home, and I don’t want to miss any more time with them. I want to be there to watch them grow up, watch them play their sports, hockey and lacrosse or whatever else they decide to join. After that, in the next few days, weeks, I’m hoping to sit down with Homer and maybe go over different options about what might I possibly be doing around here and helping out with the Flyers hopefully.
On if leaving the Sabres, who had just gone to a second straight Eastern Conference final, to join the Flyers, who had just 30th overall, was a tough decision:
“It wasn’t, really. When I signed with the Flyers, I really thought this was the best opportunity to win. I know a lot of people brought up they were last in the NHL the year before. And I want to go back even a little before that, up until about a week to ten days before free agency, I was convinced I was going to be a Buffalo Sabre for the rest of my career. I was convinced of that when people were asking me. That’s the truth. I really believed that something was going to happen and I was going to be a Sabre. In the last week when I started realizing it wasn’t happening and I had to open up my mind to it a little bit, I started looking at teams, and I remember I was hoping the Flyers would be one of the teams. I didn’t know if they were interested, but I was hoping they’d come up with an offer.
“People sometimes don’t realize what Homer was building. You look at the year before, the trade for (Scottie) Upshall and (Braydon) Coburn. The week before, they got the rights to (Scott) Hartnell and (Kimmo) Timonen. So that’s four new players. Marty Biron was at the trade deadline, that’s five. On that same day there’s a trade for (Joffrey) Lupul and Jason Smith. We’re now at seven new guys. I had a chance to play against Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, and you knew it was just a matter of time for them to take over. So now you’re at nine top-end players. With me joining, that’s 10. So that’s half the team. That’s not even counting Derian Hatcher, Simon Gagne, Mike Knuble. I could keep going down the list. So there was no doubt in my mind that the team was really turning around and it was my best chance to win.
On if he opened the door for smaller players:
“I hope so. I don’t think I was the only one. There were a lot of guys before me that had done the same thing. It’s pretty amazing when you hear comments like that, that I helped smaller guys. I’m very proud of that. I also think when I signed with the Flyers, it was starting to turn with the new rules, and we started seeing smaller, faster players being more effective because of the new rules giving those types of players a little more room on the ice to maneuver.”
On proving people who believed he couldn’t play in the NHL wrong:
“There’s many of them that I remember when I was playing junior in Drummondville. There were a few articles, and I don’t want to go back on who said it, but NHL executives or experts or ex-players who made some comments and had seen me play. Most of the people all said that I was too small, too fragile to play in the NHL. I had a lot of those cut-out in my room. I had a little box that I kept by my bed that anytime things would get tough a little bit, that I would open and read. That was kind of my motivation at the time to prove them wrong.”
On when he began to think about retirement
“Probably when I started thinking about it more and more during the season in Colorado. It’s a dangerous slope also – once you start opening the door to it, now you’re questioning yourself, and it becomes tougher and tougher to keep going. But even when I started thinking about it, I’ve had a lot of doubts both ways for the past few months on is it the right time, is it not … bouncing back and forth on what to do. But the last couple weeks I’ve been very comfortable with the fact that it’s time to stop.”