What if Danny Briere Still Played for the Buffalo Sabres?
The Philadelphia Flyers- Pittsburgh Penguins series has been the most entertaining of the first round of the NHL playoffs. The Flyers have set the stage to bust out the brooms tomorrow night against their cross-state rivals. While Claude Giroux has been the best player,it was Danny Briere who changed the complexion of this series. With the Flyers facing a 3-0 first period deficit in Game 1, Briere took matters into his own hands, scoring two. Sunday he added two first period goals giving the Flyers a permanent lead that the Penguins could never overcome. He was a game-changer. Just like he was when he was a Buffalo Sabre. Briere bolted from the Sabres in 2007 for a $10 million front-loaded contract offered by the Flyers. You have to wonder if that would have happened under Terry Pegula. Heck, Briere would be a bargain now. That's what they threw at Christian Erhoff. The team is desperate for a first line center, a need that would've been filled if they had given Briere the big money. This past off season they dropped big bucks on Ville Leino, and he was a huge disappointment. Might have been different if Briere was still a Sabre, Leino dominated in the Sabres in the playoffs last season and in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010 when he was playing left wing with Briere.
The Sabres missed the playoffs this year by a few points (losing to Briere's Flyers) and they lost to Philadelphia in the First Round last season by a few goals. Imagine if Briere was still on our side? He's a winner and a clutch playoff performer and that's what the Sabres need most. He lead the Flyers to the conference finals in 2008 and in 2010 he once again defeated the Buffalo Sabres on the way to the the Stanley Cup finals. The Flyers lost the Cup to Chicago, although it wasn't Briere's fault. He nearly tied Gretzky's record of 13 points in a Stanley Cup final. Only Mario Lemeuix played better in a Cup Final. Nobody has more playoff points in the post lockout era. Even though Briere had a sub-par regular season, Sunday was Briere's 100th playoff game and he has 101 playoff points.
So you have to wonder. If Danny Briere was still a player for the Buffalo Sabres would they have made the playoffs this year, or would they already have won that elusive Stanley Cup? In his book, Good to Great, author Jim Collins talks about how great organizations put the right people on the bus, and when they find the right people they pay them to drive that bus. That wasn't the Tom Golisano, Larry Quinn philosophy when they ran the Sabres. Here's hoping that Pegula and Ted Black have learned from the Sabres poor management decisions and never make the Danny Briere mistake again.