Briere excited about shuffling back to Buffalo

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:08 PM ET

Daniel Briere just was not feeling the love in Buffalo.

Don't get him wrong. This has nothing to do with the loyal Sabres faithful, who supported him throughout his stint in western New York.

But when it was time for the Sabres to show him the money, well, it just wasn't there.

And, come free agent time, neither was he.

After helping the Sabres make back-to-back deep playoff runs in 2006 and '07, Briere bolted Buffalo in favour of the Philadelphia Flyers, who lured him to the City of Brotherly Shove with a mammoth eight-year, $52-million US contract.

It was a deal he just couldn't refuse.

Four seasons later, Briere has joined Chris Pronger as the two focal points leading into Game 1 of the best-of-seven first-round series between the Sabres and Flyers that begins Thursday at the raucous Wells-Fargo Center in Philly.

Briere is in the spotlight because he will be facing off against his former team.

Pronger? He's been in the headlines because his status is uncertain for Game 1 after having hand surgery in March.

For Briere, who led the Flyers to within two wins of a Stanley Cup last June only to watch the Chicago Blackhawks end up hoisting hockey's most coveted prize, this series is not about revenge or the opportunity to get even. Not even close.

"The people that didn't want me are gone now," Briere said, referring to the Sabres recent change in ownership. "There's nothing personal about it. I don't see it as payback or anything like that."

Indeed, given the financial and emotional commitment new Sabres owner Terry Pegula has made to the team and the city of Buffalo, he very well might have paid Briere had he been running the ship four years ago.

But that's a moot point now. Briere is a Flyer, a potent weapon who led the team in scoring during the postseason last spring with 30 points.

In the end, he actually welcomes a return to the HSBC Arena for Games 3 and 4 in Buffalo, a rink he enjoyed many good times in during his days as a Sabre.

"It's been a few years so it's a little different than if it were the first year after I left," Briere said. "It's been quite some time now so it's probably not as crazy. But there's still a little something there.

"It's going to be special. There's no doubt about it. I'll be facing a lot of friends but for a couple weeks there we'll have to leave that behind.

"I'm definitely excited."

Given the fact his Flyers dropped 14 of their final 21 regular-season games, Briere better hope his Philly teammates are just as enthusiastic as he is.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/zeisberger


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