MONTREAL – Danny Briere is not likely to hear many more boos at the Bell Centre.
The free agent from Gatineau, Que., has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens.
The Philadelphia Flyers used a compliance buy-out last week on the final two years of an eight-year, US$52 million deal Briere signed in 2007.
Because he turned down an offer from the Canadiens to sign with the Flyers that year, Briere was booed whenever Philadelphia visited Montreal.
Now, he’s a Canadien, returning to his native Quebec on a deal reportedly worth $4 million per season.
“For me, the Montreal Canadiens fans are probably the most passionate fans in the NHL,” Briere said on a conference call Thursday night. “It’s an honour to be playing for them, in front of them, and all I’m hoping is that we will all be cheering in the same direction when the seasons starts.”
The 35-year-old Briere had reportedly narrowed his list of potential destinations to the Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators.
“Daniel Briere brings a great deal of skills, experience and leadership to our team and he is a significant addition to our group of forwards,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement. “Daniel showed a great desire to pursue his career in Montreal and we are very happy that he committed to playing in Montreal for the next two seasons.”
Initial reaction to the deal was mixed among Canadiens fans, with some welcoming his skill and experience and others concerned that the five-foot-10, 181-pound Briere adds another small body to an already smaller than average team.
Others worry about his declining offensive production. Briere had only six goals and 10 assists in the lockout shortened 2013 season and has had concussion issues in recent years.
“Last season with the short season, starting behind everybody because of injuries, I am definitely looking forward to bouncing back. I’ve done that my whole life, my whole career,” Briere said. “It’s always been about finding the motivation to bounce back. Coming to Montreal makes it really easy, first of all. Having the chance to play for the Canadiens, I think there’s no better motivation than that.
“(2013) definitely was a season where I wasn’t happy the way things went and I’m going to do everything in my power to turn that around.”
Briere has 282 goals and 373 assists in 847 career NHL games, but was mostly coveted for his post-season play. In the Flyers’ run to the Stanley Cup final in 2010, Briere had 12 goals and 18 assists in 23 games. In 108 career post-season games, he has 50 goals and 59 assists.