Canadiens: Home Sweet Home, Maybe

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Daniel Briere is finally a Montreal Canadien, but is it 6 years too late?

After over two decades with the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars organization Mike Modano decided to take a victory lap with his hometown Detroit Red Wings, fulfilling a boyhood dream. The result was a disastrous season that everyone wants to pretend didn’t happen.

Coming out of the Second NHL Lockout, Eric Lindros decided to restart his successful and controversial career by joining his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, fulfilling a boyhood dream. Shockingly, injuries derailed the Big E’s stint in TO and everyone’s pretty much forgotten that he was even there.

Now, after being bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers after a lackluster 2013 season, Daniel Briere has joined his hometown Montreal Canadiens in an attempt to get his career back on track, no doubt fulfilling a boyhood dream. History never repeats itself, right?

Six years after spurning the Habs as a free agent to sign with the Flyers, Briere is finally wearing the bleu, blanc, et rouge of the Canadiens, hoping that he can help the team take the next step after last season’s surprising success. It was a bold signing by Montreal, but is it the right one?

The most glaring deficiency the Canadiens had last year was their lack of size and grit. While their speed and skill helped them win the last ever Northeast Division title, the team wilted in the first round of the playoffs against Ottawa. They addressed this problem by signing the 35-year-old, 5’10”, 180 pound Briere, who would have trouble intimidating a Hobbit. As well, Briere is now 3 year removed from his last “good” season, when he scored a symmetrical 34 goals and 34 assists for the 2010-11 Philadelphia Flyers.

However, a slight frame and declining skills might be the least of Briere’s potential problems. To say that the pressure in Montreal for a Quebecois hockey player is intense is like saying Zdeno Chara is kind of tall; it’s a huge understatement. It was rumored that the reason Briere choose the Flyers over the Habs back in 2007 was that he didn’t want to deal with the insane pressure that percolates daily in the hockey mad cauldron of Montreal. He even took less money from Philly to avoid it.

The good news for Briere is that he’s not coming into town as the centerpiece of the team with a huge contract. He’s just a piece on a playoff caliber team with bigger stars like Carey Price, PK Subban, and Max Pacioretty shouldering the load. And once they get to the playoffs, if the Briere that’s scored 109 points in 108 post season games show up, it will have been an excellent value signing by Montreal.

Fading stars coming home to try to recapture past glory may not have a great history of success in the NHL, but the Canadiens are hoping that Briere can buck the trend, turn back time, and bring playoff glory to the city of Montreal.

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  • jd

    Terrible signing for the Habs especially at that money.