Danny Briere recently revealed that he nearly joined fellow ex-Sabre Chris Drury with the New York Rangers after the teams’ 2007 playoff tilt.
Chris Drury and Daniel Briere collaborated on a lot of New York memories during the mid-to-late 2000s, albeit in Buffalo, NY. Such antics nearly continued in Manhattan with the New York Rangers.
Briere joined Crossing Broad‘s Russ Joy and Anthony SanFilippo on Snow The Goalie. The Philadelphia Flyers-centered podcast and radio show focused on Briere’s six seasons in an orange sweater, but a certain segment will have New York Rangers fans reminiscing on what might’ve been.
"I had no idea that they were willing to sign two free agents at the time. That might have changed something, I don't know, but I moved myself out of the race to let Chris [Drury] go there.”@DannyBriere48 on what could have been with the Rangers! Courtesy of @SnowTheGoalie pic.twitter.com/AsqKNWnQCG
— ESNY (@EliteSportsNY) June 3, 2020
“It was just the perfect match of who we were and the respect that we had for each other. Now moving forward that’s very interesting because they were allowed to negotiate with Chris and so I knew what was going on and Chris and I had decided early on that we wanted to stay together, we wanted to stay in Buffalo as long as we stayed together,” Briere explained. “And we maintained that line until the end. They were not willing to spend to keep us both and that’s why we ended up leaving. We contemplated leaving and going to play together elsewhere, as well. It wasn’t about money at that point.”
Prior to Briere’s Philadelphia entry, he and Drury were among the star attractions for the Buffalo Sabres. Briere had joined Buffalo via a 2003 trade with his original hockey employers in Phoenix. He and Drury shared captaincy duties for three seasons, the last being the historic 2006-07 campaign. The pair combined for 169 points (Briere’s 95 led the team) and the Sabres earned 113 points in the standings, tying a franchise record. That tally was also good enough to earn the first Presidents’ Trophy in team history.
Buffalo dispatched their New York brethren, the Islanders and Rangers in a respective five and six games, but fell to the eventual Eastern champions from Ottawa in five. Briere and Drury were free agents after the historic trek and each planned continued collaboration in central New York.
But as Briere notes, a Buffalo reunion was out of the question so the pair sought sweaters of a different color. Both settled on the NHL’s Atlantic Division, albeit on completely opposite sides.
Drury would ink a five-year, $35.25 million contract with the Rangers, while Briere hooked up with the Flyers on an eight-year, $52.5 million deal. According to Briere, however, he could’ve worn a new shade of blue alongside his fellow center, but the hockey gods had other plans. The Rangers had enough offseason funding to add both Drury and Briere, but opted instead for Scott Gomez, a former Stanley Cup hero with the New Jersey Devils.
“And then when I was talking to Chris, negotiating with the Rangers and talked to Chris and Chris told me, ‘I’m going to focus on the Rangers,’ and that’s when I pulled myself out of the race because I knew he wanted to play there and let him go. They ended up signing Chris and Scott Gomez, but I had no idea that they were willing to sign two free agents at the time. That might have changed something, I don’t know, but I moved myself out of the race to let Chris go there,” Briere said.
Drury wound up playing the final four seasons of his NHL career with the Rangers, taking over the captaincy after Jaromir Jagr departed in 2008. Gomez would last just two seasons in a New York uniform and was eventually dealt to Montreal in a trade that netted the Rangers a future captain in Ryan McDonagh. After his retirement in 2011, Drury joined the Rangers’ front office and currently serves as an assistant general manager.
Briere nonetheless was able to enter Ranger lore during his Philadelphia tenure. He earned a penalty shot opportunity during the game’s final minute, but his would-be tying goal was rejected by Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers won the game 2-1.
Two seasons prior, Briere beat Lundqvist on a shootout goal that helped the Flyers beat out the Rangers for the final playoff spot on the final day of the regular season. Briere would go on to lead Philadelphia with 30 playoff points during the team’s trek to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. He left the Flyers in 2013 and played two final seasons in Montreal and Colorado.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags