Danny Briere

Roundtable: PHT’s favorite Winter Classic memories

NBC’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with the 2020 Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET from Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Texas on New Year’s Day. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

JAMES: My favorite Winter Classic memory came from the first one between the Sabres and Penguins in 2008.

Being that I wasn’t covering Winter Classics yet, I was naturally hungover from New Year’s, making a lot of my memories of what was honestly a mostly unmemorable game quite blurry. Sidney Crosby winning the shootout in a snow globe atmosphere made it all work, though, and is a reminder that big moments can paint over otherwise bland affairs.

Watching that, likely while groaning on a couch, will always stick with me. It sure beats the times Crosby and others suffered possible concussions during outdoor games, too.

JOEY: The most memorable Winter Classic moment in my mind has to be in 2009. The Chicago Blackhawks took on the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field.

A lot of the details from that game are pretty fuzzy for me. I remember that the Red Wings won, 6-4, but the one detail I will never forget is the Pavel Datsyuk partial breakaway goal. Datsyuk split two Blackhawks defensemen before scoring an awesome goal on his backhand. It was perfect because it was smooth just like he was throughout his career. There aren’t many things in hockey that get me to leap off my couch anymore, but that was definitely one of them.

SEAN: We all remember Crosby’s goal, the dramatic ending of the 2012 game, but mine is a memory that didn’t take place on the ice. During intermission of that Flyers-Rangers Winter Classic the NHL managed to get Philly’s own The Roots to perform, which has since set the musical act bar very, very high. Sadly, it’s not come close to being matched:

ADAM: It has to be the 2012 game in Philadelphia between the Flyers and New York Rangers. This was the second Winter Classic I had an opportunity to cover in person, and everything about it was pretty outstanding. Good venue, intriguing matchup, and the game itself was great thanks to the way it ended. With the Rangers leading, 3-2, with less than 20 seconds to play, Ryan McDonagh was whistled for covering the puck in the crease resulting in a penalty shot for Philadelphia’s Danny Briere to try and tie the game. Henrik Lundqvist stopped him, secured the win for the Rangers, and John Tortorella, even in victory, was furious with the call after the game in his press conference. He said something along the lines of the everyone getting together and trying to get the game to overtime for TV ratings. It was classic Tortorella.

SCOTT: The 2014 Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs was an all-time classic between two Original Six teams. To see 105,491 fans pile into The Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan was an unbelievable site. Additionally, the snow added to the mystique and brought back memories of skating on a pond in freezing temperatures for players from all over the world.

Jimmy Howard’s vintage brown pads coupled with Detroit’s red sweater was an awesome combination. The Winter Classic has felt a bit stale at times, but in 2014, the hype was justified.

Watch the 2020 NHL Winter Classic between the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars at the Cotton Bowl on Wednesday, January 1 at 1 p.m. ET only on NBC, NBC Sports and the NBC Sports app.

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, and Pierre McGuire and Brian Boucher will have the call from the Cotton Bowl. Mike Tirico will host the network’s on-site Winter Classic pre-game coverage alongside the NHL Live studio team of host Kathryn Tappen, and analysts Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Patrick Sharp. Tirico will interview members of 1999 Stanley Cup Champion Stars team on-site during intermission of coverage on NBC.

PREVIOUSLY:
The snow storm at The Big House
• Syvret’s first NHL goal comes at Fenway Park
Late winner has extra special meaning for Brouwer
Briere vs. Lundqvist

Winter Classic Memories: Briere vs. Lundqvist

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Every Tuesday in December we’ll be looking back at some Winter Classic memories as we approach the 2020 game on Jan. 1 between the Stars and Predators from the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas.

The 46,967 fans inside Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia got to see a pretty entertaining Winter Classic in 2012. It was pretty heated on the ice between the Rangers and Flyers on that Jan. 2 afternoon. The longtime division rivals played an intense game that saw New York make a comeback and hold on to a lead with a dramatic finish. 

Before the drama went down on the ice, there was some off of it when Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette made the decision to start Sergei Bobrovsky over Ilya Bryzgalov, he of the nine-year, $51 million contract signed that previous summer.

Things started well for the the Flyers, who opened up a 2-0 lead in the second period with goals from Brayden Schenn and Claude Giroux 1:55 apart. Mike Rupp then answered 30 seconds later for the Rangers and celebrated with a Jagr Salute after No. 68 exited the game with an injury.

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Early in the third period the Rangers continued the comeback with Rupp adding a second and Brad Richards scoring the go-ahead goal with 14:39 to play.

The game remained that way into the final minute of the third. With both teams serving penalties, the Flyers emptied their net to make it a 5-on-4 as time ran down. A scrambled in front of Henrik Lundqvist’s net was whistled after Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh was caught covering the puck in the crease. That meant a penalty shot for Philadelphia, much to the amazement of John Tortorella, who expressed his costly opinion of the call after the game.

Danny Briere was chosen to take the penalty shot with 19.5 seconds left as Flyers fans in attendance prayed for an equalizer.

“That’s a lot of pressure,” said Flyers forward Jakub Voracek afterward. “You’ve got 50,000 people depending on you to score a goal. Millions watching on TV.”

Lundqvist played it very aggressively, coming out to almost in line with the faceoff dots. Briere was thinking five-hole. 

“You go in and you try to get a read on where he is at,” Briere said. “He came really far out. All I was thinking was that the game was going to overtime, that I was going to score. I could see it going in.”

“I couldn’t believe he called the penalty shot,” Lundqvist said. “But it was exciting. Obviously there’s a lot of pressure on me there. But it was exciting. The whole game was exciting. Pretty intense.”

The win kept the Rangers atop the Eastern Conference and sent the Flyers to their third loss of the season to their rivals in New York and fifth straight against them. The comeback also marked the first time the Flyers had lost in regulation that season after leading through two periods.

“It’s frustrating,” Briere said. “It’s disappointing. But I can’t change anything about it now. I got a good shot off, he made a good save.”

NBC will air the 2020 NHL Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Texas, at 1 p.m. ET on New Year’s Day.

PREVIOUSLY:
The snow storm at The Big House
• Syvret’s first NHL goal comes at Fenway Park
Late winner has extra special meaning for Brouwer

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Daniel Briere on starting up an ECHL franchise, his future in management (PHT Q&A)

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Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

It didn’t take long for Danny Briere to get back into hockey following his August 2015 retirement. Two months later, he was working for the Philadelphia Flyers learning the ropes of management under the guidance of Paul Holmgren.

That experience prepped him for the next step in his post-playing career: management.

This past summer, Comcast Spectacor, parent company of the Flyers, bought the ECHL’s Alaska Aces, who were ceasing operations, and moved them to Portland and renamed them the Maine Mariners. Briere was named vice president of hockey operations and has been helping the franchise get prepared for its start for the 2018-19 season.

Portland had AHL hockey as recently as two years ago, but the Pirates were sold and moved to Springfield, Mass., which caught many in the community by surprise. Briere and his staff have been working to re-connect with the fanbase. They also now have a head coach after hiring Riley Armstrong. And while the franchise is owned by Comcast Spectacor, the Mariners are not affiliated with the Flyers or any NHL team at the moment.

We recently spoke to Briere about his move into management, what a day in his life looks like now and his future working in hockey.

Enjoy.

Q. How did this opportunity with Mariners come about?

BRIERE: “I always had a good relationship with Paul Holmgren. He’s the one who signed me with the Flyers when I was a free agent back in 2007. After I retired he approached me and gave me the opportunity to get involved on the business side with the Flyers, kind of learning a different facet of the organization that I didn’t know much or anything about. It’s been amazing. It’s really gotten me out of my comfort zone. At first, I was completely clueless to what was going on around me, but they have amazing people in the office that have helped me learn the business side and feeling more and more comfortable every day. It’s been a fun challenge; very uncomfortable at times, but that all started with Paul Holmgren bringing me aboard and giving me the chance to learn first-hand how it works behind closed doors.”

What are your duties now and will they change once the franchise is up and running next fall?

“I followed Paul around for a couple of years, along with [Flyers Chief Operating Officer, Alternate Governor] Shawn Tilger, they’ve been great at integrating me on the business side. When this opportunity came and Comcast Spectacor, who owns the Flyers, bought this ECHL franchise, Paul and Shawn approached me about running the business side of the hockey department for that franchise. I thought it was a great opportunity for me to get my toes wet a little bit, to learn first-hand and really move forward to make my own decisions a little bit. It’s not just about following and seeing how things work, but now I have a little bit more of a say and I have to make decisions. It’s been great. I don’t know moving forward what the deal will be. I’m just kind of running with this at this point and trying to make the best of it and trying to enjoy it as much as I can.”

Run me through a typical day for you as you’re getting things up and running?

“It’s checking in with the people up in Maine at this point. Because we don’t have a hockey team going, it’s mostly building the front office, checking in with [vice president of business development] Adam Goldberg up there, making sure everything is working right, that he has all the tools to function. It’s trying to get our name out in the community in Portland, letting people know that we have the team coming back, trying to get people back on board. And also some stuff on the hockey department, especially here in the second half looking at hockey games, trying to find players that might be enticing to add to our group and to bring to Portland for next year.

“I think it’s a job that evolved because we’re starting from scratch. You’re building a front office, now we’re going to start building the hockey side and then we have to put the team together before we start playing. There’s different stages and we’re moving towards every stage so far without too many problems. It’s been good. It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s a role that evolves as we moved forward.”

Did you have an idea of what you wanted to do after playing?

“No, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I’ve always liked the finance field. It’s something that I was always drawn into from an early age. But I also had no clue how much involvement it entailed [working in an] organization, how much work needed to be done on the business side. When I played I was worried about meetings on the teams I was going to face, on the power play we were going to bring up that night, the goalies I was going to face, the defensemen. So I had no idea how many people it needed, how much work needed to be done to get a game ready, to get people in the stands, to get advertising for a franchise to function. It’s been really cool to see a different side of hockey that I didn’t know much about.”

Do you see this as a first step into NHL management someday?

“Honestly, I hope so, but at this point I’m not looking too much forward. I want to enjoy what’s going on now. I’m having a blast, I’m having fun with this. I’m trying to soak it all in as much as I can to get some experience. It’s not very often that you have the chance to start an organization from scratch. We saw Vegas do it last year and they’ve been extremely successful, so they’re a good example as well. But it doesn’t happen very often. I’m trying to gather as much experience and information as I can as I’m going through it. I believe that moving forward it’s probably going to benefit me. It’s probably going to help me moving forward. That’s the way I see it, but I don’t have any long-term goals that I’m trying to get to or achieve. I’m just trying to enjoy this as much as I can and make this team and this franchise as successful as we can.”

What’s the response been like from the Portland community about the franchise coming back?

“It’s been good. I feel like the people in Portland have been burned a few years ago with what happened and the team leaving at the last second. We’re trying to make them believe in us, make them believe that we’re there for the long haul, it’s not a one-and-done. Because it’s such a big organization that Comcast Spectacor is, we’re serious about putting a good, solid organization there. But I have the feeling that they’ve been without hockey for a couple of seasons now and I feel like they are excited about this team coming back in their community and I’m hoping that people reach out and really decide to support it. We want that as well. We want to include the fans as much as possible. We want it to be their team and be there for the long haul, kind of like the old Maine Mariners, the reputation that they built over the year, we’re hoping it goes back to that and they can look at their team and be proud of the Maine Mariners, just like they were of the old Maine Mariners. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

With Avs’ playoff hopes dwindling, is it time to start selling?

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Here’s the deal for the Colorado Avalanche. To make the playoffs, they’ll need to go in the neighborhood of 17-6-4 in their final 27 games. And the way the team is playing, that’s very unlikely to happen.

“Our confidence is not there, no doubt about it,” coach Patrick Roy said, per the Denver Post, in the wake of last night’s loss to the Rangers, the fourth straight defeat in regulation for the Avs.

“It’s my job to remain patient and continue to practice it and hopefully, eventually it will turn and help us to win some hockey games.”

And it’s the job of management to face reality leading up to the March 2 trade deadline.

Veteran defenseman Jan Hejda, a pending unrestricted free agent, is a player that could be turned into a draft pick or prospect. Forward Danny Briere is another pending UFA, though his trade value is minimal.

Of course, forward Ryan O’Reilly would make a good addition to a playoff team. However, he’s a more complicated situation. If the Avs are really going to trade the 24-year-old, his contract status (can’t sign an extension until July 1) may make that more likely in the offseason.

Stepan returns for Rangers in Game 5

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Suffering a broken jaw sidelined New York Rangers center Derek Stepan for Game 4, but apparently he received clearance to play in Game 5. He’ll suit up for the Rangers as they attempt to eliminate the Canadiens in Montreal on Tuesday.

Much was made of the Brandon Prust hit that injured Stepan, with the former Rangers forward expressing regret about hurting his friend while Danny Briere professed more than a little bit of doubt about the validity of Stepan’s injury.

It was obviously enough to sideline Stepan for one big game, so does that just leave it half-fishy? Will the Canadiens try to target that jaw? Do people retract their mockery of Briere or is it just a wash? There are so many questions, yet we’ll have to wait for the answers.

If you’re wondering how the Rangers will line up with the 23-year-old forward back in the mix, here’s an early look:

Consider how the past few days have gone for Stepan and it would be remarkable if he was his usual top-center self, although stranger things have happened in the playoffs: