player: danny briere

Briere spurned the Canadiens, his boyhood favorite team, and angered fans there so much that he was jeered each time he played in Montreal. Booed with such ferociousness, he had to tell his mother to stop coming to games.
But on Feb. 13, 2010, Briere was comfortable enough after three seasons in Philly that he left his mom a pass.
She saw her son in the hotel lobby, gave him a hug and had an uncommon request: “I know I never ask you anything like this, but can you please score me a goal?”
Briere stuck it to the angry visitors and scored a hat trick in Philadelphia’s 6-2 win.
Big game, big production.
It was Briere’s way.
—  via Associated Press on Yahoo
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Danny Briere explains his stick preferences to hilariously star-struck pre-draft babies Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin.

(The stick thing is actually fascinating–Briere starts the season with a stiffer flex and decreases it throughout the season as he loses muscle mass. It makes a lot of sense, but I don’t know of any other players who do it.)

A cursory search on Briere reveals that the term “fan favorite” was applied to him in Phoenix, Buffalo and especially Philadelphia. This is not a coincidence.

Briere was listed, generously, at 5-9 and 174 pounds. While he wasn’t Nathan Gerbe, he wasn’t exactly of the size and stature that was required for most offensive stars of his generation.

There’s always something enthralling about a player that plays so much bigger than his god-given frame, and Briere was a tough bugger. He went to the danger zones, he had that same human pinball quality as Marty St. Louis and he didn’t hesitate to nefariously mix it up with opponents. Which frequently meant he was something less than a fan favorite for the other 29 teams facing him each season, but that tends to happen when your signature face-off move is a stick knob across the other guy’s jaw.

But Briere was a fan favorite because he, well, favored the fans.

He didn’t join teams, he joined communities. He made time for the fans, and made time to help them any way he could: The Daniel Briere Foundation is over a decade old, and its annual charity golf and poker tournaments have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in Canada. He was involved in Ed Snider’s youth hockey initiatives. Just this summer, while contemplating retirement, he took part in a charity hockey tournament in South Jersey.

All of it humanized Briere in ways that don’t always happen for star players. So you couldn’t help but feel for the guy when his divorce was public to the point where it became chirp fodder for Pat Kaleta, leading to that memorable “HBO 24/7” subplot where single dad Briere had Claude Giroux as a ‘cool uncle’ house guest for his kids. You couldn’t help but shed a tear reading about the sudden loss of his mother, either.

There was a logo on the front, a name on the back and a heart on the sleeve of his jersey.