It took a long time for him to catch on as an NHLer, but once he did, Briere was one of the top scoring threats in the league. Now, the good-natured right winger is hanging up his skates for good.
It would be disingenuous to say Daniel Briere came out of nowhere. After all, he was a first-round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes back in 1996, the same year he scored 163 points for Drummondville of the Quebec League.
But since he was waived by those same Coyotes seven years later, after failing to make a permanent impression on the club, it is remarkable to think how quickly he became one of the most dangerous players in the NHL shortly thereafter.
Briere, who just announced his retirement in an opinion piece for Le Droit newspaper, was an undersized right winger who influenced a younger generation of diminutive scorers with his nifty skills and slick hands.
His NHL career really didn’t take off until he became a Buffalo Sabre and before that, it appeared as though the Coyotes had whiffed on a player just not big or strong enough for the Dead Puck Era. But in Buffalo, Briere soared. He led the team in scoring during his first full campaign, then established a career-high in points by notching 95 in 2006-07. Those Buffalo teams made deep runs into the playoffs, but could never get back to the Stanley Cup final as the 1999 incarnation did.
Unfortunately for Sabres fans, the enviable core was allowed to disintegrate soon thereafter, with star center Chris Drury signing with the New York Rangers and Briere leaving via free agency for Philadelphia. The twin departures in the summer of 2007 were a low point for the Sabres franchise and Buffalo hasn’t won a playoff round since.
Briere went on to considerable success in Philadelphia, helping the Flyers to the conference final his first year and the Cup final in 2010. They lost to Chicago, but Briere led the team in scoring with 30 points in 23 games, cementing his reputation as a post-season performer.
Injuries slowed down the slick scorer in his career, from concussions to a wrist problem. He did get to achieve a significant dream when he signed on to play for the Montreal Canadiens in 2013-14 and ended his playing time with Colorado last season.