The Flyers confirmed on Thursday what many have been thinking for months.
The team will use one of its two compliance, or “amnesty,” buyouts on forward Danny Briere, general manager Paul Holmgren said in a statement. Holmgren met with Briere last week to inform him.
“This was a very difficult decision for us to make as Danny has been a very good player for us over the past six years,” Holmgren said. “Danny came to our organization as a free agent in July of 2007 and has been a tremendous player, person and role model in all aspects and for that we thank him. We wish him continued success and best wishes in any future endeavors.”
Briere, 35, collected just 16 points in 34 games this season - his worst statistical season as an NHL player in his 14-year career.
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Briere told the Daily News on Monday that he’d been in constant communication with the Flyers since the season ended and knew where things were heading.
“They’ve been a completely first class organization with the way they’ve handling everything,” Briere said. “I don’t think it was easy for them, but at the same time, I understand the business. I have total respect and admiration for the Flyers.”
Briere will hold a 2 o’clock press conference on Thursday to further discuss his career with the Flyers. In 364 games in Philadelphia, Briere posted 124 goals and 159 assists for 283 points. He also collected 72 points in 68 playoff games with the team, including a league-high 30 postseason points in 2010, when he led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup final.
The Flyers will pay Briere $825,000 each of the next four years to not play for the team. His 8-year, $52 million deal was so heavily frontloaded that it made more sense for the team to exercise their buyout rights, removing his costly $6.5 million salary cap hit from the books.
The Flyers also still have one more amnesty buyout remaining to use on whomever they choose. Ilya Bryzgalov remains a very likely target. Amnesty buyouts were included in the new CBA to assist teams with the reduction of the salary cap ceiling from $70.2 million to $64.3 million next season.
Briere will become an unrestricted free agent when the buyout is executed, which will come two days after the Stanley Cup final concludes. He may not re-sign with the Flyers for a period of one calendar year.
Now, the only question left is where Briere will land. Ottawa, across the river from his hometown of Gatineau, Quebec, seems like a natural fit. However, Senators GM Bryan Murray isn’t usually keen on smaller players but may take a flier if “the price is right.”
Montreal and New Jersey are also possibly landing spots. Briere would like to remain close to his three hockey-playing boys - Cameron, Carson and Caelan - who will stay in South Jersey.
DN Members Only: Rich Hofmann writes that it's time to buy out Ilya Bryzgalov, too.
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