Boy, it seems the long knives are out for Daniel Briere already this season. The other night during the Vancouver game, I joked with a friend that with his cheesy haircut and Scott Gomez-like tendencies, Briere should actually be called "Gruyere" instead. I was pretty disgusted with his soft, slow, obviously-36-year-old game to start the season. I'm still opposed to his signing, but the fact is, that ship has sailed and whether deckhand or officer, Briere is in Montreal for the foreseeable future.
The Habs have no "get out of contract jail free" cards left to play, so buying out Gruy...oops...Briere would hamstring a team that's got a lot of hot youth to sign in the immediate future. Trading a guy who got bought out by his last team and has done nothing to improve the fortunes of his new one is as likely as Marc Bergevin deciding his favourite word is no longer "character." Hamilton's not an option because of the player's no movement clause. So, it's in the interests of Habs fans everywhere to lobby the hockey gods for Briere to find his game.
It's not easy to find the positives. One assist in five games, with top wingers and two minutes of PP time per night puts him on pace for 16 points over 82 games. In the first five games, he's been largely invisible physically, has dragged down Max Pacioretty's play and has failed to make use of his time with the man advantage. He's also gotten an inordinate amount of airtime on 24CH, if you're into that kind of thing. There's not a lot there to love.
So, we have to look for something. We know Briere is excellent in the playoffs. His career points average during the regular season is .77 per game. In the post-season, he figures in the scoring every night. If the Habs make the playoffs, he'll help. That's something. He also satisfies the desire of management to add local players to the mix. As long as he's holding a spot, Marc Bergevin won't go looking for a worse guy to fill that requirement. And, be assured, there are worse choices to carry the "hometown boy" flag.
Okay, that's pretty much it. That's what I can find on the positive side of his presence in Montreal. So, now we just have to hope he finds some way to fit in with this team and prove he's not Bergevin's first huge mistake. Or, at least, that he doesn't hurt the team until the playoffs arrive and the Habs, hopefully, even without his help, have nailed down a spot. It doesn't matter, really, in the end. Positive or negative, we're stuck with him and it's to nobody's benefit to spend the next two years complaining about Daniel Briere.
Daniel Gruyere on the other hand...