Danny Briere will not be back in the Flyers’ lineup on Thursday night against his hometown Ottawa Senators, still hampered by a concussion that will cause him to miss his 10th consecutive game.
Briere, 35, is likely to return on Saturday in Buffalo, where he will have eight games remaining to salvage what will end up being a career-worst season. They may be the last eight games of his tenure in Philadelphia.
Briere has 5 goals and 8 assists in 26 games. He missed time at the start of the season with a hairline fracture in his wrist, suffered in Germany during the NHL lockout.
The time off has allowed the reality of an “amnesty” buyout to sink in, something that is a strong possibility this summer when the Flyers will have the ability to strike two contracts off the books as the salary cap sinks.
Briere is a perfect target. He has underperformed, he is aging, his salary cap hit alone is more than 10 percent of the total team allowance ($6.5M of $64.3M), and his actual salary is low.
Under the rule, Briere will receive 100 percent of the salary owed to him ($5M) over double the term remaining (equals 4 years) and he would immediately become an unrestricted free agent, if the Flyers decided to go that route.
(There’s been some debate about the buyout formula, whether it’s two-third money owed or 100 percent, yet Wade Redden and Scott Gomez both received 100 percent. Two-thirds is a normal buyout amount for any player, not a contract amnesty.)
When asked after an hour-long skate on Thursday, Briere handled the questions with ease, almost comfortable with the strong likelihood it will happen. Not even his no-movement clause will help him avoid it.
“It’s reality,” Briere said. “You can’t be thinking about that. You’ve got to live in the moment. All I can control is for me to come back in the lineup and play as good as I can to show them (the Flyers). I can’t worry about what they decide to do.
“I can’t control if they decide to buy me out. I believe in this team. This is where I want to be. With my kids being here, obviously it would be tough to have to go somewhere else. I want to be here and I’m going to try everything in my power to stay here.”
Briere likely would have been a prime target for a trade before the April 3 deadline if he did not suffer a concussion in practice. He reiterated on Thursday, as he did to the Daily News back on Feb. 27, that he “wasn’t going anywhere.”
There are two caveats to buyouts and Briere: one is that a player is not permitted to re-sign with the team from which he is bought out. The other is that NHL players are not permitted to restructure a signed deal, as Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo well knows. Both player and team must live with the consummated contract.
Briere will still have value in the NHL, even to the Flyers if it were allowed, just not at $6.5 million on the cap.
“Believe me, I wish,” Briere said when asked if he could have renegotiated now.
Even if it may put him in an uncomfortable position - trying to find a new home and figure out how he will see his near-teenage sons Caelan, Carson and Cameron – Briere doesn’t resent the amnesty clause in the new CBA.
“Everybody understands that the revenues are going to go down, and a lot of teams had prepared for two, three, four seasons ahead,” Briere said. “Those teams are going to pay the price because they had their salary structure set already, so it’s a chance for helping the owners out with the new rules of the CBA.
“Obviously, I end up paying the price. But you know what, there’s been so many good things that have turned up in my favor over the years that I’m not going to complain about that.”
For now, as the grey clouds and pall hang over the heads of Briere and the rest of the Flyers over these final weeks of a dragging, shortened season, Briere only has one choice: to keep his head up and play hard. It’s the right thing to do.
“Whatever happens, you never quit, that’s what I’m telling (my boys),” Briere said. “They hear kids at school. It’s part of reality. I teach them, ‘You can’t quit. You’ve got to keep going forward, you give it all you’ve got, and then you deal with whatever happens after that.’”
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