Briere can't argue with return date to Flyers lineup

Danny Briere wanted to play last night.

He felt he was ready and he made it known to John Stevens.

Arron Asham finishes big check.

But Stevens told him to wait.

"What we wanted to do was just to make sure," the coach said yesterday. "We conferred with the doctor and he gave him the green light for full participation again, and we just felt it was necessary to get him in some battle stuff at the end of practice, get him in a good practice and hopefully get him ready for Thursday.

"It's hard for Danny right now. But I think it's important to give him the preparation he needs to get in a game and finish a game.

"These games he gets into and can't finish, it's not good for him, it's not good for us. That's why we felt it is necessary to take a couple of extra days here, get him in some battle stuff, keep progressing along."

And so Briere, who has been plagued by groin problems all season, missed another game, this time against his former team, the Buffalo Sabres. The good news is that Briere was not hesitant in his belief that he is ready and that he will play tomorrow at home against Washington.

"I really wanted to be in and obviously since it's the Sabres, you want to play against your old team. In the end it's probably the safest decision with everything that's happened this year, you probably want to play on the safe side," Briere said.

"If it was just me, I would play. I'm ready to go and want to play, but when I take a step back I realize that it's probably the better decision to wait till maybe another step or another couple days to feel even better.

"I tried [to argue] a little bit, but [Stevens] had some pretty good arguments, too. So it was tough."

For Briere it was a frustrating decision, but a lot better than what he though he was facing last Thursday night when he left the game against Calgary in the second period thinking he had suffered another groin injury.

But Friday morning Briere was examined and learned what actually had happened was that some of the scar tissue in his groin had broken up and bled, causing him to lose power in his leg.

He expected some really bad news.

"I saw [Dr. William Meyers] the next morning . . . I couldn't believe that something happened again. When I saw the doctor, after looking at me, he started laughing at me and said this is all good.

"At first I was a little taken aback, but he explained and it made sense. He said it was going to take 5 days to a week for the swelling to go down and the blood to flush out and that's what we're starting to see."


Stevens won't go there


With the firing of Guy Carbonneau in Montreal this week, John Stevens, with just 2 1/2 years on the Flyers' bench, became the second-longest tenured coach in the Eastern Conference behind Buffalo's Lindy Ruff.

When asked to comment on that, Stevens said, "Oh, no. I'm not doing that." *