Thursday, June 17, 2010

Daniel Briere Involved in Car Accident

Quoted from Philadelphia Daily News:

Flyers forward Danny Briere escaped serious injury this morning when his SUV collided with a tractor-trailer near Binghamton, New York, police said.

Briere and his 9-year-old son Cameron were headed north on I-81 about 12:30 a.m. just north of the Pennsylvania state line.

Briere, driving a 2010 Range Rover, was passing a tractor-trailer when he became drowsy and drifted into the right-hand lane, said Sgt. Steven Barlow, spokesman for the New York State Police.

Wow...I was stunned to read this. It instantly had me thinking of the great Pelle Lindbergh, who was involved in a fatal car crash, prematurely ending an outstanding career.

Thank God this is not the case.

Let me say something about Danny Briere for a moment:

I'll be honest, I'm not really a fan of him as a player. Outside of the playoffs, I don't think he attempts to hit enough. I think his salary has "hamstringed" our salary cap situation, not necessarily earning the 6.5 Million dollar cap hit. He does his best work behind the net and with other excellent play-makers. Also, he doesn't have any killer instinct that I'm aware of.

But that's only one side of Danny.

The other side consists of a man, who despite all of the critics (just like myself), comes out and plays his heart out for his hockey team. Despite being booed in Montreal every time he touches the puck, he continues to go out and stick it to them. And lastly, despite immense fame and fortune he has...he has never, EVER, forgotten about the fans.

I collect sports autographs, particularly hockey. I find collecting the signature of a player to be like holding a piece of history in your hand. One of the players I have had the privilege of meeting in person, as well as sending a photo to be signed, is Daniel Briere.

Twice I've met the man. Twice he was extremely nice. That's not always the case with professional athletes (for various reasons, but regardless, it's impressive). Also, Briere took part in the mini-project I started in which I sent out questionnaires to be answered. I've received two back. He's one of the two.

Daniel is also a different kind of man. Sometimes, you can get a gauge as to the personalities of players on the ice. Sometimes you can when they're off-ice. Danny is the same guy on and off the ice. There's a quiet way about him that just screams "I am just a very nice guy." He has a charity called "The Briere Bunch", where you can purchase custom hats signed by Danny, that benefits the Flyers Wives Charities, the Daniel Briere Foundation and also Camp Good Days & Special Times.

It's entirely genuine, too.

I don't want to continue to ramble, but I want to end this post with a plea to you, the reader.

If you are a fan of Danny's, or have at all changed your opinion about him after reading this post, I strongly urge you to write him a letter. It could be a letter about how you enjoy his charities, his play, or even send a Get-well card.

I'm going to, because this man deserves it.

Here is the address to write him your message.

Daniel Briere
c/o Philadelphia Flyers
3601 South Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19148

Jaroslav Halak Traded

The first thought I had when I had heard this on Twitter, was "Goodbye, downtown Montreal."

It has been fun speculating as to whether or not Montreal will keep its future-Patrick Roy, Carey Price, or re-sign the man who has earned the starting role, which is Jaroslav Halak.

We found out our answer today, as new GM Pierre Gauthier decided to trade restricted free agent Jaro Halak to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for prospects Lars Eller and Nick Schultz. Just the general reaction I have gotten so far from the Habs' fan base can be summarized in one word: chaos.

Before the return for Halak was made official, many Montreal fans were stating "Oshie/Berglund/Perron and a 1st round pick BETTER be coming back our way." It's fun yo think of the disappointment that is ripping through their veins right now. I can't say that I'm not surprised as well; I thought Halak was going to be kept. Why wouldn't he be? He carried the team, along with Mike Cammalleri, through the 2009-10 playoffs.

With this trade made and the return being not very impressive (in comparison to what most would've thought)...what does that mean for the Flyers in their pursuit of a goaltender? Apparently, the farm won't have to be mortgaged in order to get a young, starting goaltender.

Who will they chase after? I am not sure, but the upcoming draft is going to be one fun event.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Return of the Foppa?

Wow. I have to start by saying that I am thoroughly shocked to be able to even write about this little piece of news in Flyer-dom. Pleasantly shocked, but still shocked.

Well, for all of you who aren't aware about a giant piece of news that broke yesterday, it seems that our fearless General Manager, Paul Holmgren, pulled out the heavy artillery on March 2nd. How did he do so?

He offered a contract to Swedish superstar, Peter Forsberg.

I must admit that even after several years of "Will he, won't he" Forsberg rumors in this city, I am shocked to find this out. Perhaps it's the time the story was broken by the Swedish newspaper, The Expressen. All that can be taken by this journalist

"Yeah, it's true," Forsberg said when speaking about the offer. "But I felt that I wasn't in good enough shape to go."

The thought of having Peter Forsberg, injury riddled and 36-years-old, made my hockey heart melt at the thought of it. Can Flyers fans imagine the thought of Peter Forsberg possibly playing on the same line as Claude Giroux? After all, Giroux is known for having on-ice vision that rivals Peter the Great. It certainly would've added a nice boost to our lineup.

But wait, that's not all. Although Forsberg didn't commit to playing in the NHL, or any league for that matter...he did not rule out the thought.

"It's way too early to start speculating about teams when I still don't even know if I can come back and play hockey again," Forsberg told the Expressen.

The Flyers don't need Peter Forsberg this season. In fact, I plan on the crafty play-maker staying in Sweden for the rest of his career... but there's just something that builds up inside of me when I think of him flying the orange and black again. He introduced me to some of the most amazing passing I have ever seen as a hockey fan.

I'd love to see what else the old man has up his sleeve.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

About the Other Night...

What a disapointing way to end a cinderella post-season for the Philadelphia Flyers.

This writer is conficted at the current moment, mainly because of a horrific goal let in by netminder Michael Leighton to win the Stanley Cup.

I don't know whether or not to feel misery for yet another failure, or a bust of joy due to the incredible success of the team?

There are two sides to this coin. The first side consists of everyone being ashamed that their Flyers have failed after being pegged favorites to win the Stanley Cup, particularly after mortaging their future in order to acquire blueliner, Chris Pronger. The playoff loss isn't even the half of it; the Flyers barely made it into the playoffs. Free agent Mike Knuble and then-traded Joffrey Lupul were gone, with youngster Claude Giroux expected to fill the void. Ray Emery was brought in as a "low risk, high reward" band-aid at the goaltending position. Both of those issues blew up in the Flyers' face, as Giroux didn't shine in the regular season and Emery was riddled with injuries.

It took the orange and black a shootout on the final day of the season to clinch their spot in the post-season. That sounds awful, doesn't it? But wait...

The other side of this story hasn't been heard yet.

Only 30 or so games into the season, the Flyers were heading towards an ugly fate early on in the season. Goaltender Ray Emery had been injury-plagued early, youngsters Claude Giroux and James VanRiemsdyk, as well as veteran forward Scott Hartnell, had not produced as hoped by fans or management. Head Coach John Stevens was also ineffective in aiding the team. On December 4, 2009, Peter Laviolette replaced Stevens has head coach.

Everything seemed to change from that point on.

Although a shaky start, Laviolette's system began to have an effect on the team as a whole. Energetic forward Daniel Carcillo began to refine his game under the new head coach, playing with new found discpline and contributing on the Flyers' top line. The team began to bond on another level, picking up their pace as the season went on. None of this would have been possible if not for the Flyers' best waiver pick-up in a decade...Michael Leighton.

On December 15, 2009, the 6'3 goaltender was claimed for the 3rd time during the 2009-10 season to back-up Brian Boucher while the injuried Ray Emery was recovering. Shortly after being claimed by Philadelphia, Leighton was thrown into the starting role for the Flyers. He made the most of it, finishing the season (as a Flyer) with a .920 save percentage and a 2.48 GAA, earning him the starting job in the Winter Classic over New England-born Brian Boucher.

Here's an astonishing scenario...the Philadelphia Flyers are one win away from going to the playoffs on the last day of the NHL regular season. They are playing the dreaded New York Rangers, a division rival and team that is also fighting for its playoff life. Regulation isn't enough to do it. Overtime can't decide this game. Only a shootout. Not just any's a shootout against arguably the game's best goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist. Who would've thought that Philadelphia, a team who hadn't put their foot on the throat of any important game this season, would win their ticket to an amazing Stanley Cup Finals run against such a skilled goaltender?

The joy radiating from Brian Boucher after stopping a Olli Jokinen shot lit up the hearts of all Flyers fans viewing the game. One can only imagine how the players themselves felt.

From that point on, the Flyers continued to roll through the playoffs, brutalizing the arch-rival New Jersey Devils in a series that ended 4-1. In that series, however, the Flyers took two large casualties; Ian Laperriere and Jeff Carter. Both players would remain out of the playoffs for some time. In the second round, the Flyers came out in a disappointing way, losing the first three games to the burly Boston Bruins. Somehow, this miraculous machine of a hockey team barreled back to win the series 4-3 in a historic series.After dispatching the Bruins, the Flyers made short work of Jaroslav Halak and the giant-killing Montreal Canadiens.

Setting the scene here: Daniel Briere has not been useless, Ville Leino has now started a run that will see him to set a Flyers' rookie record for most points in a playoff season. Braydon Coburn is playing like a man thirsty for blood (I wish he always would) and Scott Hartnell is producing far beyond his numbers in the regular season. Nothing can be more perfect for the Flyers. Especially Michael Leighton gaining 3 shutouts at this point in a limited amount of time in the post-season.

Then the finals came about. The clock finally struck midnight for the resilient Flyers, ending their Stanley Cup hopes when Patrick Kane score during a Game 6 overtime to win the Stanley Cup for the Blackhawks, ending a winless-drought that has spanned almost half a decade. The city of Philadelphia's pride hurts to this day, but nevertheless...the city that was the setting for "Rocky" respects this team for never giving up, never making excuses and never forgetting that they respresent "us" and not just themselves.

Now, I know there will be several moves made this off-season...players traded, rookies drafted and inevitable retirements, but it is important to rememember that this team was one of tenacity and terror...everything we love. I can't wait for next year.

Good night, good hockey.