While most clubs have only one captain, star centres Daniel Briere and Chris Drury split the job in Buffalo. Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said he and his staff decided to go with co-captains coming out of the lockout a couple of years ago because they felt both players would represent the team well. And he says it’s been a success so far.
Both are men of few words, instead choosing to lead by example.
“When they do talk, it resonates,” teammate Adam Mair said prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final against the Ottawa Senators. “It’s one thing to say, ‘This is what you have to do,’ but it’s another to see them doing it on the ice and realizing that they’re our leaders.”
It says a lot about the unselfish nature of Sabres that Briere and Drury get along so well. Neither one ever feels like the other is stepping on his toes.
“I think we complement each other really well,” said Briere, a native of Gatineau, Que. “And it takes a lot of pressure off. I know Chris takes a lot of pressure off me and I believe I do the same for him.”
Briere admits their roles on the team are different.
“But at the end of the day, we think alike and we agree on pretty much everything so that’s one of the reasons why it made it real easy for us to be together,” he said.
But how long will they be together?
Their future has been a question all season but somehow it hasn’t become a distraction. Both Briere and Drury are unrestricted free agents July 1 and will be among the top centres on the market this summer.
Like many Sabres fans, Mair is hoping something can be done to keep them in Buffalo.
“At the end of the day, there is that salary cap structure in place where one, you question whether there would be enough funds to do that,” said Mair. “And No. 2, it’s a player’s decision at that point to pick the team that he wants to go to.”
Mair said he thinks the Sabres would win out on that second point because Buffalo is a place both players enjoy. Briere has a growing family and is involved in the community, said Mair, adding that both players’ wives also seem to like the area.
“You hope that they can both find a way to be here for us,” Mair said.
Neither player wants to discuss the future right now – the Stanley Cup is the only thing on their minds. Sabres GM Darcy Regier decided not to open talks during the season.
“The focus has just been so much on the playoffs, even on the regular season and the playoffs, and it hasn’t been anyone’s strong desires to get into contract negotiations,” said Regier. “So it’s something that we’ve left for after the season and we’ll address it then.”