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Holmgren: Briere buyout ‘very difficult decision’ for Flyers

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With Daniel Briere’s compliance buyout now just a formality, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren spoke Thursday about what many are calling the end of an era.

“This was a very difficult decision for us to make as Danny has been a very good player for us over the past six years,” Holmgren told the Flyers website. “Danny came to our organization as a free agent in July of 2007 and has been a tremendous player, person and role model in all aspects and for that we thank him.

“We wish him continued success and best wishes in any future endeavors.”

Briere accomplished plenty in Philadelphia after leaving Buffalo six years ago. He represented the Flyers in a pair of All-Star Games (2007, 2011), winning MVP honors at the ’07 contest.

In 2010, he finished as the leading postseason scorer — 30 points in 23 games — setting a Flyers’ franchise record in the process.

In the end, though, the organization could no longer afford Briere’s front-loaded eight-year, $52 million deal.

Here’s more, from Philaldephia Flyers Inside Reporter Anthony SanFilippo:

He had two years remaining and while he was only owed $3 million for next season and $2 million the season after, Briere, 35, still had to have a cap hit of $6.5 million per the rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which says the Average Annual Value (AAV) of a player’s contract counts toward the cap, not the specific dollar figure.

The Flyers will now have to pay Briere 75 percent of his remaining money owed – $3.75 million – but will have twice as long to pay it as was the term remaining on his contract.

This means the Flyers will pay Briere $937,500 per season for the next four seasons. As a result, the team will get cap relief by not having any portion of his contract count against the cap.

In speaking with SanFilippo, Briere had nothing but kind words for the city, organization and fans.

“I just want to say thank you to all the fans and my teammates for the wonderful last six years here,” he said. “Also, I want to thank the Flyers organization for treating me so well during my stay here.

“I will always be grateful to everyone around the team for my time spent as a Flyer.”

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.