Some losses an athlete never gets over. That is certainly the case with Danny Briere. After Wednesday’s practice at the Skate Zone, Briere saw an old wound re-opened when asked about the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 overtime win in Game 6 at the Wells Fargo Center that clinched the 2010 Stanley Cup.
Briere was brilliant in the playoffs that season with 12 goals and 18 assists, but the sting of Patrick Kane’s overtime goal, on June 9 of that year, will always linger.
Kane scored a goal that nobody was sure went in at first in.
Nobody, at least on the Flyers.
According to the description of Inquirer Flyers beat writer Sam Carchidi, Kane's shot from deep inside the left circle went through Michael Leighton's legs into the right corner of the net. The goal light did not go on, and the play was reviewed to make sure the puck indeed had entered the net.
Briere and other Flyers were asked about this game because the Blackhawks visit the Wells Fargo Center for Thursday’s matchup with the Flyers. It will be Chicago’s first trip to Philadelphia since winning the Cup.
So Briere, showing pain on his face to this day, was asked to give his recollection of what was going through his mind following the game-winning goal.
“I honestly don’t remember much of it, what happened, what happened a few minutes after we found out the goal was in,” he said.
Briere is not the one to describe that game-winning goal.
“To be honest I have never watched a replay of that play,” Briere said. “Every time it comes on I will change the channel or close my eyes. To be honest I have never seen the shot. I just know he was on the side board but I have never seen the puck go in or anything like that and I don’t think I’m ready to see it yet.”
After the Blackhawks won, the Wells Fargo Center roared with chants of “Let's go Flyers!" as the players lined up for the traditional handshake. Then the Blackhawks skated around triumphantly with the Cup while the Flyers were in their locker room.
That scene isn’t embedded in Briere’s memory bank.
“I don’t remember much of it,” he said.
His recall wasn’t very vivid until the next morning.
“I remember waking up the next day and for you know two months you are in the grind and it is intense and you have scrutiny of everybody watching you, every move you make basically as soon as you leave your house," he said.
That no longer existed.
“I remember the next day waking up and there was no meeting , no media scrum, no fans, nobody waiting for you anywhere and it was a very, very empty feeling,” Briere said. “That was probably the weirdest thing. It seems that when I woke up I started realizing what exactly was going on. Before that it was kind of a blur and I don’t even remember after the game what I really did.”
For those people who say that the athletes only play for the money, one should see the true pain that Briere feels when recalling that final game. And remember, he was the Flyers star throughout the playoffs and had a goal and two assists in that final game.
Still, none of it mattered. The pain remains more than a year and a half later.
“It’s bittersweet no doubt about it,” Briere said. “At the end of the day all that matters is winning the Stanley Cup and they are the ones who were holding above their heads.”
So regardless of the result on Thursday, that empty feeling will remain and the only thing that will enable the pain to subside is if Briere is able to lift the Cup as high as possible before his playing career finally concludes.
Matt Read practiced on the Flyers first line with center Claude Giroux and left wing Scott Hartnell and that is expected to be the pairing against the Blackhawks.
"Every time we asked him to do something or needed a void filled, he has been able to jump in and contribute,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said of Read. “So we were looking at it in practice today. I liked it and we’ll see.”