On Monday, Aug. 17 former Buffalo Sabres forward Daniel Briere announced his retirement from professional hockey after 17 seasons in the NHL. Briere, 37, played four seasons with the team from 2003 to 2007, serving as a co-captain along with Chris Drury from 2005 to 2007.
Drafted 24th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round of the 1996 NHL draft, Briere played 973 games over the course of his 17 year NHL career, scoring 307 goals and adding 389 assists for 696 total points, while also recording 744 penalty minutes and a minus-24 rating. He also had 53 goals and 63 assists for 116 points in 124 career playoff games, to go along with 98 penalty minutes and a minus-10 rating.
Beginning his NHL career with the Phoenix Coyotes in 1997, Briere would go on to play 258 games with the team, tallying 146 total points on 70 goals and 76 assists. He also amassed 146 penalty minutes and a minus 19 rating with the Coyotes before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres prior to the 2003 NHL Trade Deadline for forward Chris Gratton.
Briere would go on to play to play 225 games with the Sabres over the next four seasons, serving as a co-captain from 2005 to 2007 along with forward Chris Drury. During his time with the Sabres, he established himself as one of the team’s top scorers, tallying 92 goals and 138 assists for 230 total points, to go along with 219 penalty minutes and a plus-14 rating. During the 2006-2007 season, Briere posted career highs in assists (63) and points (95), while also scoring 32 goals (second highest in his career). He also established himself as a top playoff performer with the Sabres, scoring 11 goals and recording 23 assists for 34 total points in 34 playoff games with the team en route to two straight Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 2006 and 2007.
With the Sabres failing to re-sign Briere after the 2006-2007 season, Briere went on to sign an eight year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. He would go on to play 364 games with the team, scoring 124 goals and 159 assists for 283 total points along with 331 penalty minutes and minus-13 rating , posting a career high 34 goals during the 2010-2011 season. He also played in 68 playoff games with the team, tallying 37 goals and 35 assists for 72 total points, reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first and only time in his career in 2010 in a losing effort to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. His 30 points in the playoffs that season on 12 goals and 18 assists were most in the NHL that year.
After six seasons with the team, the Flyers chose to buy out the remaining two years of his contract in 2013, making him a free agent. He then signed two-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens.
In 69 games with the Canadiens, Briere tallied 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 total points, while also recording 30 penalty minutes and a plus-1 rating. He then had three goals and four assists for seven points in 16 playoff games, while being held out as a healthy scratch in one game.
After one season with the Canadiens, Briere was traded to the Colorado Avalanche on June 30, 2014 for P. A. Parenteau and a fifth round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. In 58 games with the Avalanche during the 2014-2015 season, Briere posted a career low 12 points on eight goals and four assists, to go along with 18 penalty minutes and a minus-7 rating.
The Avalanche elected not to re-sign Briere after the season, and after receiving little interest in free agency he ultimately decided to call it a career, citing an interest in spending more time with his family.
“This is not a decision that can be taken lightly. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks,” Briere told Le Droit, a French newspaper in his home town of Gatineau, Quebec. “In fact, I first began bouncing the idea around in my head last winter, when I was in Colorado. I felt far away from my children, who stayed in Philadelphia. It wasn’t really an easy situation for me. I’m putting an end to my career in order to become more involved in the lives of my three boys. They are at an age when it is crucial to have a father at home.
“This summer, the more time I spent with them, the less I saw myself leaving home one more time to start up the engine for another season. If I took my time before making my decision, it was because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making the wrong one.”
While he had been contemplating retirement for a while, he has yet to really reflect on his 17-year NHL career.
“Even if I’ve been thinking about my retirement for a little while, I haven’t yet taken the time to look back on my career. It’s as if I haven’t reached that point yet,” he said.
“Over the past 18 years there have been many great moments. I’ve made a number of friends and I’ve experienced many things I will never forget. It’s true that I haven’t reached my ultimate goal. I’ve never won the Stanley Cup. But when I look back quickly, I can say that I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished up until now.”