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Daniel Briere returns to Buffalo for first time since leaving for Philly

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Daniel Briere returns to Buffalo for first time since leaving for Philly

The Canadian Press
By:

Daniel Briere has already been booed mercilessly in one NHL arena this year so he's ready for anything come Friday night when he plays his first game in Buffalo since leaving the Sabres as a free agent last summer.

Judging from what Briere did for the Sabres during his four seasons with the club, surely some fans will want to show him some love. "I've always liked my time in Buffalo," Briere told The Canadian Press on Wednesday. "I was treated really well by everybody there, especially the fans. But it makes no sense to worry about that (reaction from fans on Friday).

"It's something you can't control. I imagine it's probably going to be mixed."

Briere heard it often and loudly from Canadiens fans in Montreal earlier this season because he chose the Flyers over the Canadiens in free agency.

Truth be told, he never really wanted to leave Buffalo but the Sabres didn't come to him with an offer until late in the game last summer, and it was a deal that didn't match up to the US$52 million, eight-year deal the Flyers gave him.

"It's not something that I want to come back on," said the 30-year-old native of Gatineau, Que. "Maybe one day, but for now I better just leave it alone. It's never been my plan to get back at the organization. Just like anything else, they have a right to let go of players just like we have the right to leave.

"It's something I'd rather not talk about for now."

He feels for Sabres fans, who also lost another top centre in Chris Drury to the New York Rangers.

"It's tough for fans, I know how it is," said Briere. "They get attached to players and players have to leave and at times it can be a little frustrating for fans."

There are still many connections to Buffalo.

"We still have a home there and still have lots of friends," said Briere, who led the Sabres with 95 points (32-63) in 81 games last season. "I was there for four or five years. We had a good group of guys and there was a good bond there with my former teammates. It's never easy.

"But at the same time I've really loved my time in Philly so far and I think we're moving in the right direction as a team. I'm very happy to be with the Flyers."

Briere also returns to Philadelphia to face the Sabres on Saturday. Facing his former teammates twice in two nights won't be easy.

"I'm not going to lie, it's going to be I think pretty emotional games coming up, back-to-back against Buffalo," said Briere. "But for us, the most important part right now is that we're in a little bit of a slump. We're trying to find our way.

"So those games are more about us trying to get back on track than about Danny Briere and Martin Biron's return to Buffalo at least from our point of view."

The Flyers are winless in four (0-3-1) but still sit in a playoff spot at 16-13-3.

"I know we have a very young team that's learning the ropes right now but there's so much talent and skill, at times it's frustrating," said Briere. "It's tough to be patient. You want to see results right away. Because I really believe we have a team that can be very dangerous."

Briere is off to a good start with 35 points (15-20) in 32 games but feels there's better things to come.

"It's a learning process," he said. "Like any player, when you move to a new team, trying to learn about new systems and new teammates and trying to find chemistry with different linemates, it's been good but at the same time there's been areas where I wish it would be a little better. But I have the feeling that it's right there.

"In the last few games even though we haven't won, there's a lot of good signs with my linemates and chemistry starting to build. We're just not able to finish plays right now. That's why we're on a little skid."

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Daniel Briere returns to Buffalo for first time since leaving for Philly