Prior to becoming the Buffalo Sabres’ first real superstar since Dominik Hasek, he had played just one full season in the National Hockey League, splitting time between Phoenix and its AHL affiliate in Springfield. The 24th selection in the 1996 draft finally broke out in 2001-02, putting up 32 goals, 28 assists and a +6 rating.
Then on March 10, 2003, the Buffalo Sabres traded Chris Gratton and a fourth round selection in the 2004 draft to the Coyotes for Briere and a third round selection in 2004. Briere scored 12 points in 14 games with the Sabres that season. He took on a leadership role in Buffalo and the rest is history.
So as the Sabres march out to the desert for a 4:00 faceoff against the Coyotes this afternoon, it’s interesting that this piece of news found its way into the paper yesterday.
It looks like just another case of the Sabres trying to make excuses for themselves. Even though they had no real intention of re-signing Briere by lowballing him, they make it seem as if Briere was the one with a secret agenda. It’s no real secret that Briere was going to go to Philadelphia if the Sabres were unable to come up with a strong offer. Common sense told anyone that.
We all know Bucky Gleason’s angle. He’s just as angry at the Sabres as a great majority of the fans are. He just has one of the largest public forums in Western New York to vent and does so a bit too often. But here he has a point.
Daniel Briere didn’t do anything wrong.
When the Sabres failed to offer him a faircontract (if one at all), he knew he was going to be out of the area. There are rumors that Briere’s house was already on the market before July 1 and that he was in Philly looking around. But as Bucky said, if Philadelphia was a team he knew would express interest (a rebuilding franchise with loads of cap room), it would make sense for him to check out the scene.
Just as long as he didn’t talk to anyone in Flyers management. Which in this scenario, it sure seems like he didn’t.
Briere may get booed in Buffalo, but it’s obvious who really gave Buffalo the shaft. I’m not sure what Larry Quinn’s goal is here by filing that request over six months after the fact (or if he filed it in July, why it took so long for the investigation to get underway).
But it does the Sabres no good on the ice. Briere’s not around to score goals and Buffalo’s currently in 12th place in the conference. And the streaky Sabres are currently in their deepest rut of the year, winners in just one of their last 11. We’re still not completely sure of the identity of this team, other than the fact that they’re Jekyll and Hyde personified.
Phoenix marks the second stop on the longest road trip in franchise history. Maybe they can find the new superstar in their midst in the desert this afternoon.