Danny Briere has played his last game as a Philadelphia Flyer. The team released a statement from general manager Paul Holmgren moments ago that confirms the Flyers will use a compliance buyout on his contract this offseason.
"I met with Danny last week and informed him of our decision to use a compliance buy out on his contract, Holmgren said in the statement. "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. 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."
I don't know why they're deciding to announce this decision now. They can't make the buyout official until 48 hours after the Cup Final ends, so at the earliest, this can't be officially complete for another week or so. Maybe it's out of courtesy for Danny given all the rumors around his future with the team. Who knows, really.
With the buyout, Briere's $6.5 million cap hit will no longer count against the Flyers' books. They will owe him $833,333 a year over the four years. He'll be an unrestricted free agent on July 5 and given the roots he's put down in South Jersey, he might want to go somewhere relatively local. Washington, New Jersey, New York ... we might see a lot of him in the future.
We've given Briere some crap on this site for his lack of defensive ability, and generally speaking, I think we agree that buying out his contract is a smart decision for the Flyers. Hell, at this point, given the pending signing of Mark Streit and whatever else Holmgren might have up his sleeve this offseason, buying out Briere is basically a necessity when it comes to the salary cap. The Flyers are still projected to be over the $64.3 million cap despite taking Briere off the table, but it gives them a ton of flexibility, at least relatively speaking.
But despite his declining offense, his defensive struggles and his high cap hit, Briere still became beloved in Philadelphia during his time here. I absolutely hated Danny Briere when he played for the Sabres -- thought he was a pesky, cheap little punk -- but in Philly he quickly became one of those guys you learn to love when he's on your side. He scored countless huge goals for the Flyers in his six years here and as somebody who's had the privilege of meeting him, can attest that he's just a very good dude.
Another team will get Danny Briere at a better price tag, and they will be better for it. Let's hope that team isn't too close to home.