Flyers' Briere is taking a wait-and-'C' attitude

Daniel Briere played the last four seasons in Buffalo, which is about as small a market as there is in this country.

Briere emerged as one of the poster boys for commissioner Gary Bettman's "new" NHL, with its emphasis on speed and skill. The 29-year-old forward also emerged with an eight-year, $52 million contract signed with the Flyers just hours into free agency on July 1.

He was a cocaptain with Chris Drury, which means the Flyers will go into training camp with three newcomers who have worn the "C" (Briere, Kimmo Timonen and Jason Smith), plus a player who has worn it twice before (Derian Hatcher).

Throw in three hopefuls - Sami Kapanen, Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne - and the Flyers have seven potential captains.

Which brings us to Briere, the 5-foot-9 (with heels) center who seems to understand a thing or two about leadership.

"I don't play for a letter on my jersey," Briere said yesterday when asked whether he wanted to be in the mix. "It's about winning and moving in the right direction. There are a lot of guys who can do that as well. You don't need a letter on your jersey to lead a team. . . . It's not something I am worried about at all."

Briere said he learned from watching Drury in Buffalo.

"It's not about screaming and yelling," he said. "Leadership - it's what you do on the ice and the way you carry yourself and perform. I'm not going to be any different here. I will be the same guy I was when I played in Buffalo and Phoenix, but more experienced, obviously. You look at our team now, there are a couple of captains . . ."

So many potential "C's" to lead the worst team in the NHL last season out of the depths.

"There will be a lot of new players next year," Briere said about the Flyers' roster. "We have a lot of good, young players who are still going to have a lot of room for improvement. How it meshes, I don't know. What I expect from this team, looking at the roster, is it's going to make the playoffs."

He won't be talking to Drury every day, which may be the most difficult adjustment for Briere. Drury signed with the New York Rangers. Even though he has been a Flyer for less than two weeks, Briere already knows what the word rivalry means to Flyers and Rangers fans.

"I am excited about the rivalry," he said. "This is what's fun about playing hockey - to be in a heated rivalry like the one we have here with the Rangers. I can't wait to be part of it and to start hating the Rangers just like everybody else."

Briere will be the Flyers' highest-paid center since Eric Lindros. Though his contract averages $6.5 million against the cap, he actually will get the maximum - $10 million - next season in salary plus bonus.

"Obviously, you've got to perform, and the only way is by working on the ice," he said. "There is no other secret to it. To be successful, you have to work and leave it all on the ice.

"That is what I plan on doing. I know it's a lot of money, a lot more than I ever thought I would be making in a game I love. I know I am very fortunate . . . . I'm excited about playing here and coming here to help this team."

Spoken like a captain.


Contact staff writer Tim Panaccio

at 215-854-2847 or tpanaccio@phillynews.com.