Tonight the Flyers will honour a truly special man that marked their franchise in innumerable ways.
This man not only broke most Flyers regular season records, but he also managed to single handily bring several Stanley Cups to Philadelphia.
This player was so important to the team that they avoided buying his contract out this summer and decided to stick with their spiritual leader until his contract runs out in 2015.
He not only led them in spirit, but he also led them in line for most amusement parks, since they lined up by height.
The media was very respectful when it came to this particular player, and they did a fantastic job at not creating any false narratives that would eventually lead to his exodus from the team.
The player, of course, is Danny Brière. He's sitting at the core of a very skilled Flyers team, including sniper Jeff Carter, star captain Mike Richards, top end winger James van Riemsdyk, and elite net-minder Sergei Bobrovsky.
The Flyers are poised to challenge for the Stanley Cup once again this year, and all signs point to Paul Holmgren winning a sixth consecutive GM of the year award. His strategy of identifying quality players and signing them to long-term deals has paid off in spades, especially since he's managed to keep all this talent in Philadelphia and insulate them with tons of skill, high quality defensemen and sturdy goaltending.
Is there anyone that can stop the Flyers?
However tonight we get a rare glimpse into Holmgren's genius, as the Flyers honour first ballot hall of famer Danny Brière.
Stand in awe at Holmgren's patience and foresight. Any idiot can draft and acquire bunch of highly touted players, but only the best of the best are able to avoid the temptation of a panic move.
Move over Sam Pollock. Paul Holmgren, we salute you.
I'd be lying if I said there wasn't an outlying sense of jealousy resulting from Brière's decision to snub Montreal in 2007.
However it's clear now that Brière made the right choice. His storybook-like career in Philadelphia makes players with similar production (Chris Higgins, Michael Ryder) regret their fate in Montreal, as they will never have their fantastic careers celebrated in the same manner as Brière will tonight.
Alas, the ship has sailed for Brière, and unless he decides to sign a retirement deal with Montreal, odds are we will never see him wearing the CH.
What could have been? No one knows.
What we do know is that Marc Bergevin can take a page from Paul Holmgren's book and avoid the temptation of signing overage and declining players. Stick to the nucleus you drafted and good things will happen.
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