A quest on hold
MONTREAL – Though satisfied with his 2013-14 campaign, Daniel Briere believes he can bring even more to the team next season.
After leaving the Philadelphia Flyers to join the Canadiens last July, the Gatineau, QC native saw his way through an up-and-down NHL season. Suffering through an early season slump, Briere faced more setbacks after sustaining a concussion which forced him to the sidelines for several weeks. Upon his return to the lineup, Briere began to hit his stride.
Finishing 10th on the team in scoring with 13 goals and 12 assists in 69 appearances, the veteran had to adjust to a smaller role than what he was used to. The downgrade in responsibilities may have frustrated other players, but Briere took it all in stride.
“You can ask anyone, everybody wants to play more often. When I played 20 minutes a night, I wanted to play 25. What’s important for me is to be part of a winning team,” insisted Briere, who averaged only 12:46 of ice time per game in 2013-14. “I’m at a stage in my career where winning is my priority. I want to do whatever that is asked of me to help the team.”
In addition to not seeing as much action as he would have preferred, Briere had to adjust to a variety of linemates throughout the season. After experiencing success at even strength and on the powerplay with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta during the regular season, Briere took over the middle of the Habs’ constantly evolving depth line in the postseason. It was an unusual role for the former All-Star, who showed no bitterness toward the coaching staff for his usage.
“We all want to do more and assume bigger responsibilities. At this level, we are all very competitive. That’s what helped us get to this level, and that’s why we play professional hockey. So yes, I think I have more to give,” insisted Briere, who reached the 900-game plateau during the regular season. “The coach has difficult decisions to make sometimes. I respect that. I’ll work hard in the off-season to be in a position to do more for the team next year.”
With one year left on his contract with the Habs, Briere will look to create more great memories with his childhood team. His clutch scoring in the playoffs was nearly enough to help the Canadiens to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 21 years. As it were, getting so close to the end goal may fan the flames and help the veteran gather his strength for one more Cup run in a hockey-mad city.
“That’s the reason why I wanted to play in Montreal. It’s to experience all of this, the fans; their energy. That’s what we look for as hockey players. The Canadiens’ fans gave us a chance to live something special over the past weeks. I’ll cherish those memories. There’s just one more step to go and that’s to win the Stanley Cup. The team is going in the right direction. I’m already looking forward to next year.”
So are we.