Daniel Briere and Claude Giroux will feel right at home in their new home.
Briere, 35, the Philadelphia Flyers veteran centre and teammate Giroux, 24, one of the top young players in the game, had their signings with the Berlin Eisbaren made official Sunday and they’ll both jet out Monday.
There they’ll be welcomed with open arms by former 67’s great Peter Lee, Berlin’s long-serving GM, former Senators assistant coach Don Jackson, the head coach, and one-time 67’s assistant coach Vince Mallette, who is on Jackson’s staff.
They can’t wait to see the dynamic duo from the Ottawa area. Briere and Giroux wanted to play together. Teams in Europe were willing to take one, but not both. Lee had room with four import cards left and felt this move could work.
Let’s face it, you don’t get a chance to get two of the top players in the NHL often.
“We had the room so I thought, ‘Why not?’,” said Lee Sunday from his Berlin office. “They know they’re coming to a good place. Everybody probably judges the German league by the standings in the world championships, but that’s a poor way to rate the league.
“We’re pretty competitive compared to all the other leagues in Europe _ like the Swedes and Finns. These two guys are going to get a chance to play in a good league. We had Erik Cole over here in 2004-05, we won a championship and I think he felt the experience was good for his career.”
Owned by the Anschutz Entertainment Group (the owners of the Los Angeles Kings), Berlin is one of the top teams in Europe. The club won the Deutsch Elite League championship last season, but lost many of its veteran players.
“It gives us a good mixture. We don’t have anybody over 30 — except for our goalie Rob Zepp — so a lot of our veteran have gone,” said Lee. “We get experience in Danny and a young guy that competes with standout talent in Giroux, who is one of the hardest workers in the game.
“In Canada, we get it easy because there’s hundreds and thousands of good hockey players. In Germany, if you’re a good hockey player you can come out at 80% every night and not worry about being the best player on the ice. They’ll make the players around them better. You should have seen our team skate (Friday) just with the rumours they were coming.”
Both will join the team Tuesday, get a chance to get settled into Berlin and then suit up Friday.
“They’ll have a good influence the way they play the game, the way they approach the game,” said Lee. “It’s not just the games. It’s the practising with them. They’ll get to see the good work ethic these guys have. We are a young team and they’re going to be good for us.”