Published January 13, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - Six years ago, Danny Briere spurned the Montreal Canadiens in favor of signing with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Fast-forward to the present and Briere is finally in a Habs jersey. He'll try to lead his club to a victory over his former employer on Saturday night when the Canadiens play host to the Flyers.
Following a productive three-plus seasons in Buffalo, Briere hit the free agent market in the summer of 2007 and drew interest from a number of teams. The Quebec-born forward, though, drew the ire of Montreal natives when he decided to ink an eight-year, $52 million deal with the Flyers.
Briere netted 124 goals with 159 assists for 283 points in 364 games with Philadelphia, but had just six goals and 16 points in 34 games last season. He ran out of goodwill stemming from his 30-point playoff output during the Flyers' run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010 and had the final two years of his contract bought out this past summer. That gave the 35-year-old the opportunity to sign a two-year deal with the Canadiens
"He was a good player for us for the whole time I was here," said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. "Certainly in the playoffs he made his noise and he made his noise really loud. You go back to some of the big series he had, the big run to the Finals, his line was an integral part of that. It's good that he landed somewhere and he's happy. I'm sure he'll be excited to play his old team."
Briere said he's happy that his first game versus the Flyers comes early in the season and at home.
"I guess that makes it a little bit easier on the preparation because for me, personally, it's not a normal game," he told Montreal's website. "You're facing your ex-teammates. I have a lot of friends there. It'll be a little tougher, but I really believe that playing it in Montreal makes it a little easier."
Briere made his regular season debut with the Habs in Tuesday's 4-3 loss to Toronto. He had four shots and was held without a point as the Canadiens failed to hold a 2-1 lead after the first period. Lars Eller scored twice and also assisted on Brendan Gallagher's goal, while Carey Price made 34 saves on 38 shots faced.
Toronto's eventual winning goal came minutes after Montreal enforcer George Parros was carted off the ice on a stretcher following a fight with Colton Orr. Parros suffered a concussion when he was taken down by Orr during the fight and landed face-first on the ice.
"It's not easy after that incident to get back into the game, but we tried to use that as fuel to get another goal," said Eller, who scored his second goal with 2:22 to play.
Parros was released from the hospital Wednesday morning and is sidelined indefinitely.
The Flyers also lost their season opener to Toronto, falling to the visiting Maple Leafs 3-1 on Wednesday.
Brayden Schenn scored during a first-period power play, but the Flyers failed to score on six other opportunities with the man advantage. Vincent Lecavalier and Mark Streit had assists on the goal in their Philadelphia debuts.
"Offensively that's the best we've looked in a while, but at the end of the day you've got to score more than one goal to win a game," said Laviolette.
Steve Mason, acquired during the lockout-shortened season, got the start over free agent signing Ray Emery and made 22 saves. Emery could get the start in this game.
"It's huge, I had a great meeting with (Laviolette) a couple of days ago. That's when he told me I would be playing and it's a huge honor to get the opening night start," said Mason. "Ray could have been there just as easily as I could so it was a great honor to have it and unfortunately we didn't get the win."
The Flyers have won 10 of their past 14 versus the Canadiens, splitting two trips to Montreal last season.