Flyers Success Depends On Danny Briere

Dan KellyContributor IJuly 12, 2009

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 15:  Forward Danny Briere #48 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins as forward Mike Richards #18 of the Flyers follows during game one of the 2009 Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Mellon Arena on April 15, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Following a disastrous 2006-2007 season, the Philadelphia Flyers had money to spend and desperately needed a star. They thought they had found one in Danny Briere. They signed the diminutive play-maker to an eight-year, $52 million deal.

He has shown flashes of brilliance, yet his time in the orange and black has been rather disappointing. Plagued by injuries, Briere has yet to fulfill the expectations of his large contract. That needs to change if the Flyers are to be among the Eastern Conference elite.

With Briere, at this point, I am perhaps venting more than writing an informative article. I expected much more of him. He has good speed, phenomenal vision, and some of the best hands in the game.

Granted, he has been hurt. Groin injuries are like high ankle sprains, so hard to fully recover from and very easily aggravated.

With the loss of Mike Knuble, who contributed 27 goals and Joffrey Lupul, who brought 25 goals to the table, there is a void of goal-scoring left among their top six forwards. There still remains the possibility that someone such as Simon Gagne, who has scored 34 goals, could be traded for some much-needed cap relief.

Can Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, and Simon Gagne make up for 52-plus goals leaving their locker room? Trade away Gagne and that list doesn't look so good. A bright spot is that Giroux played half a season and, at times, looked like our best forward.

Danny Briere needs contribute in a big way. The Flyers need him to be the 30-goal, 50-assist player he can be. He needs to contribute some offense at even strength. He wasn't given $52 million just to put up points on the Power Play.

It starts with his health. A healthy Briere could be dangerous. Added ice time would alleviate some pressure off of Richards and Carter and leave them a little fresher.

If Briere continues to struggle the Flyers will struggle and perhaps Paul Holmgren will struggle to keep his job.