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Philadelphia Flyers: Reality Unpacks Daniel Briere's Bags

PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 15: Cristobal Huet #38 of the Washington Capitals is beaten on this second period shot by Daniel Briere #48 of the Philadelphia Flyers in game three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, 2008 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
RonnybrookCorrespondent IJune 17, 2009

You know how every conversation that involves the Flyers pursuit of UFA defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is almost certain to include a scenario where Daniel Briere conveniently waives his hard earned no-movement clause and obediently allows himself to be shipped to any team willing to take his massive contract?

As it turns out, reality has unpacked Briere’s bags because there is currently no market for his services.

From Pat Hickey at the Montreal Gazette:

"Montreal passed on Briere because, despite their previous interest, the last thing they need is a small centre with a cap hit of $6.5 million for each of the next six seasons.

The 31-year-old Briere is listed as 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, but those figures stretch the truth.

There also are concerns about Briere’s health. He went on the injured list three times last season with a variety of abdominal and groin problems. He did score 11 goals and 14 assists in only 29 games and he might have played more if the Flyers hadn’t been up against the cap."

Imagine that. The same issues that frustrate the Flyers with regard to Briere’s injuries and the size of his contract also raise red flags for other teams “interested” in his services.

And why wouldn’t they?

That being said, it’s easy to look at the size and term of Briere’s contract (eight years, $52 million with NTC) and see it as the root of Philadelphia’s salary cap problems.

However, there seems to be a collective amnesia amongst those who question the acquisition of Briere two summers ago.

It’s almost as if many look back on the deal and wonder why the Flyers went after such a high-priced UFA center, when players such as Richards and Carter were ready to emerge.

When the Flyers committed to Briere at such a hefty price tag, it was because the organization saw Briere as it’s future; not Richards and Carter.

At the conclusion of the 2006-2007 season, there were question marks surrounding Mike Richards. While there’s no indications of doubts about his status as important component of the Flyers rebuilding process, at that point no one could definitively point to where Richards fit into the Flyers plans.

There didn’t seem to be a consensus as to whether Richards would be a second or third line center, and there was little evidence early on to suggest that he would emerge as the first line center he has become today.

As for Jeff Carter, if he enjoys playing in Philadelphia, he has Tomas Kaberle to thank for that. After all, it was Kaberle who refused to waive his no-trade clause in a 2008 deadline deal that would have shipped Carter and the Flyers 2009 first round pick (Luca Sbisa) to Toronto for the long sought after Czech blueliner.

While the non-trade had the unintended benefit of motivating Carter to elevate his game, at the time it was evidence that the Flyers were ready to move on.

What both of those inconvenient facts show is that, when the Flyers committed to the Briere era in Philadelphia, it was likely due to the fact that the Flyers were nervous about their future at the center position.

It was only after the emergence of Richards and Carter as top six players, combined with Briere’s nagging injury issues and the Flyers sudden difficulty with salary cap obstacles, that Briere’s $6.5 million yearly salary began to draw scrutiny.

If Briere can shake the injury bug and continue his point-per-game production next season, Flyers fans may begin to remember what all of the excitement of Briere’s acquisition was about in the first place.

If the Flyers can free up enough salary cap space (by virtue of trading Joffery Lupul and Matt Carle for picks and prospects) to bring Bouwmeester to Philadelphia this summer, Flyers fans may forget there was ever a salary cap problem in the first place.

For Ronny Little's daily hockey blog, visit the official Ronnybrook blog.

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