I had meant to write Daniel Brière last season, when he was a member of the Montréal Canadiens, but as early as New Year's Day the trade rumours began due to the limited ice time he was getting from head coach Michel Therrien, and I didn't want the mail to get lost in the shuffle should he indeed have to change teams again. Also, I had already knocked off #48 from my Habs Numbers Project with Jean-Jacques Daigneault and James 'J.T.' Wyman, so I felt I could wait a bit.
The trade came this summer, and I wrote about my feelings toward it here. We'll see how he fares with the Colorado Avalanche, but for now head coach Patrick Roy is trying to give him top-9 minutes by slotting him on the right wing, although he'll be counted on for leadership more than his total points; chances are he'll see more ice time in the playoffs in Denver than he did in Montréal, though.
The Avs were in Montréal last weekend, and I had the chance to tell Brière my appreciation of his patience while he was in town; I didn't have anything for him to sign, but he did remember having signed for me back in his days with the Philadelphia Flyers, so I thought I could feature that card here:
Buffalo Sabres, wearing the team's white (home) turn-of-the-century uniform. He signed it in blue sharpie.
A first-round draft pick (24th overall) of the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996, Brière had been a star player in Juniors with the Drummondville Voltigeurs, racking up seasons of 123 points (including 51 goals, in 72 games) in 1994-95, 163 points (on 67 goals, in 67 games) in 1995-96, and 130 points (thanks to 52 goals, in just 59 games) in 1996-97.
He spent the 1997-98 season with the AHL's Springfield Falcons, scoring 36 goals and adding 56 assists for 92 points in 68 games, then spent the following three seasons hovering between the AHL and the NHL, finally settling with the Coyotes in 2001-02 (with 60 points in 78 games), but the team dealt him to Buffalo at the tail end of the following season.
He had tremendous success with the Sabres, with 230 points in 225 games in the Dead Puck Era despite his diminutive stature (5'10'', 180 pounds), sharing the team's captaincy with Chris Drury from 2004 until 2007.
Both left in the summer of 2007, being the highest-coveted free agents that summer; Drury signed with the New York Rangers, while Brière went to Philadelphia. With 283 points in 364 games with the Flyers and an 'A' on his jersey, Brière was definitely an impact player in the City of Brotherly Love; he was even more of a monster come playoff time, with 72 points in 68 post-season games with the team, including a league-leading 30 in their 2009-10 Stanley Cup bid, which was also a team record.
He also has four gold medals in four tries with Team Canada. That's winner and clutch, right there. I wish him the best with the Avs, and here's hoping he's found enough stability for me to write to him this year...