Talking With the Philadelphia Flyers: Daniel Briere and Simon Gagne
Friday, 12 October 2007
This year, Daniel Briere and Simon Gagne of the Philadelphia Flyers just might give Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis a run for their money as the NHL’s most dangerous Quebec-born scoring duo. Unlike the two Tampa Bay Lightning forwards, neither Briere nor Gagne has ever topped the 100-point plateau in the NHL. But if they can sustain anything close to their early two-points-per-game pace, that’ll change. In any case, they’re providing a welcome diversion from the goonish incidents involving Steve Downie and Jesse Boulerice that have marred Philadelphia’s image recently
Briere, who turned 30 earlier this month, is coming off a 95-point campaign with the Buffalo Sabres in 2006-07. That made the diminutive center one of the most coveted properties on the free-agent market this summer, and he scored an eight-year, $52-million contract with the Flyers on July 1. Gagne had success playing with Peter Forsberg the last two years (when the superstar Swede was healthy, that is), and the two-time Olympian could easily crack the 40-goal mark for the third consecutive season with his new linemate.
HockeyAdventure.com caught up with both French-Canadian snipers in Vancouver to get their thoughts on the new season.
On building early chemistry with Gagne and Mike Knuble: Looking back to training camp, the first four games were not the way we wanted. But after that, it started coming. Every game it feels like it’s getting better and better.
On getting recognized at the grocery store and movie theater in Philadelphia versus Buffalo: I’ve only been there three or four weeks. In Buffalo, I had been there for so long that my face was recognized and people knew who I was. It’s still too early to tell about Philly, but one thing I can tell you is that me and my family love the area already.
On using his two IIHF World Championship gold medals with Team Canada (2003, 2004) as a springboard to success: There are many things that happened and helped me improve personally. Playing there in the World Championship, having the chance to play with Dany Heatley both years, creating chemistry there, that was definitely a lot of fun.
On comparing the feeling around this year’s Flyers to last year’s Sabres: Last year in Buffalo, I can’t really compare. We started the season 10-0. But this is totally different. More than half the team didn’t start the season last year in Philly. There was a lot of pressure, a lot of guys coming in from the outside, guys trying to learn about one another’s habits on the ice and learn a new system. We were in a tough position to start this season, starting on the road in some of the toughest buildings. We’re definitely happy with our first road trip. But there’s lot of work left.
On whether he expects to get booed when returning to Buffalo on December 21: I really don’t know what to expect. I had some great years there, some great memories. I have nothing but good things to say about the organization. They decided to move in a different direction, and that’s fine with me. It’s their right. I’m not going to say anything bad about them.
On Philadelphia’s improved special teams: Our PK was not doing the job last year, and that was a problem. Right now, we’re getting goals on the power play, and our PK’s still doing a good job. That’s a big difference for us this year. And 5-on-5, too, we’re not giving too much to the other team.
On adding Kimmo Timonen on the power play: We have a genuine power play quarterback this year, and that’s something we didn’t have last year. He’s patient with the puck. He’s got a good shot, and he’s going to make plays. It’s definitely a plus for us to have a guy like that.
On expectations for Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to rebound from last year’s sub-par showing: We expect a lot from those guys this year. They’re starting their third season, and if we want to win this season, well, just look at Anaheim. Their young guys were a big part of their Stanley Cup. That’s what we want from our guys, and they’re on the right track right now.
On Jason Smith being named captain of the Flyers: When you’ve got a player like Jason in your lineup every night, he’s one of the best leaders in the game. It doesn’t matter if he was not here the last couple of years, he’s still a good leader. I think he was the right choice as our captain.