2011-12 Philadelphia Flyers: Danny Briere's Most Important Season

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2011-12 Philadelphia Flyers: Danny Briere's Most Important Season
2011-12 will be Briere's fifth season in Philly, and could be his most important.

22-48-12.  60 losses and only 56 points in the standings.  2006-07 was the worst season in franchise history.  

But, as the saying goes, "things are always darkest before dawn".  The Flyers' brass vowed to atone for its franchise's most embarrassing season and the Flyguys made good on that promise, coming all the way back, WITH A VENGEANCE, eventually reaching the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to Pittsburgh in five games.

To wash away the stink of the abysmal 06-07 season, the Flyers' front office knew they had to make a splash over the offseason.  

Jason Smith and Joffrey Lupul were brought in from Edmonton, Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell were stolen from Nashville and James van Riemsdyk was drafted second overall in June's NHL Entry Draft.  All nice moves, no doubt, and all worked out with varying levels of success.  

But, the key to turning around a franchise that appeared to be stuck in hockey's past and resistant to its future was catching the biggest fish on the market.  Coming off a season where he tied his then-career-high in goals (32) and set new career marks in assists and points (63/95), not to mention 15 points in 16 playoff games, that fish's name was Danny Briere.

Rumors circulated, seemingly from Christmas, that the Flyers were interested in one of Buffalo's two co-captains, Briere and Chris Drury.  When free agency began, the Flyers targeted Briere, eventually signing him to an 8-year, $52 million contract with a full no-trade clause.  

The rest, as they say, is history.  Briere, entering his fifth year in orange and black, is the best free agent signing in team history.  Philadelphia has reached the playoffs each of Briere's previous four years in the city, including trips to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008 and the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010.  

Briere's regular season numbers have been solid, averaging 64 points and 77 games played in his three full seasons with the Flyers (I've decided to leave out Briere's 08-09 numbers, as he only played 29 regular season games).  

But it is Danny Boy's playoff performance that has endeared him to Flyers fans.  In 57 playoff games as a Flyer Briere has 59 points (29G/30A), including the playoff leading 30 he put up in 2010.

Briere's addition re-energized a franchise and its fan base, and saved them from an extended stay in the basement of the Eastern Conference.  However, just five years after acquiring Briere, the Flyers are in transition again, and again will be counting on their $52 million man to see them through.  Briere's increased responsibilities on and off the ice make 2011-12 his most important season yet.  

Saying that, here are Briere's top responsibilities heading into this crucial transition season.  

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