Some may consider it vindication that Danny Briere is going to the All-Star Game after all. He prefers to look at it as the chance to keep a promise he made to his children several years ago.
The Flyers centerman was added to next weekend's lineup in place of Calgary's Jarome Iginla, who will miss the festivities because of personal reasons. Briere's addition allows the league to silence the outcry wondering how the leading scorer on the NHL's top overall team was not one of its All-Stars.
"There's politics involved," Briere shrugged. "That's what I was told and I understand how it is sometimes. There are things you can't understand, I was told, and decisions that have to be made. It is what it is, but the one thing I can tell you is that I am really excited to have the chance to take my kids to it."
Briere leads the Flyers with 24 goals and 41 points. Right behind him is Mike Richards with 40 points. Richards is not an All-Star. Hmmm …
"Danny's play is deserving of being in the All-Star Game, but how can you argue with the process?" said general manager Paul Holmgren, taking the high road. "You can't get into that."
The NHL mandates that at least one player from each team be represented in either the All-Star Game or among the 12 rookies that will compete in a skills competition, so there was a numbers crunch. Still, conspiracy theorists had taken Briere's original exclusion as a personal affront against the Flyers franchise.
"We're certainly happy for Danny, that he was added and that his boys will be excited," Holmgren said. "Hopefully, he can go and have a good time and enjoy that time with his family. It's a unique experience."
This year's All-Star Game is being hosted by the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, Jan. 30. The skills challenge is the night before.
Briere will be bringing his three children, Caelan, Carson and Cameron. Flyers teammate Claude Giroux will make his first All-Star appearance. Sure to make it an even neater experience for the kids is that Giroux, lives with Team Briere in their South Jersey home. Giroux is the tall one.
Briere had originally planned to go to Florida to attend hockey tournaments his kids were playing.
"I'm sure some of the coaches won't be happy," he chuckled shortly after learning he was an All-Star. "I better start making some phone calls before it comes out."
"They are at a prime age for these kinds of things," Briere continued. "I know they're going to be very excited about it. They're 9, 11 and 12. Three boys. They all play hockey, so obviously the All-Star Game is a big thing for them. That's probably the biggest thrill for me, having the chance to share it with them."