MONTREAL -- After a bumpy start with the Flyers six years ago, fiercely competitive Danny Briere became a fan favorite, emerged as one of the NHL's most dominating playoff performers, and steered his team -- one that snuck into the postseason with a last-game shootout victory -- to within two wins of the 2010 Stanley Cup.
And, now, his Flyers legacy in the rear view mirror, the diminutive Briere is a Montreal Canadien, wearing the famed bleu, blanc et rouge sweater, and preparing to face his ex-teammates Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
"It'll be a fun game, but a tough game, also," the veteran center said in a conference call with reporters on Friday morning.
Briere, whose injuries affected his effectiveness in his last two seasons with the Flyers, was not only one of the team's top leaders, but he took the younger players under his wing. At different times, Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier lived with him and his three boys in Haddonfield.
"I'm facing guys I was with for a lot of years," said Briere, who kept his Haddonfield house and plans to move back there when his career is over. " ... It's kind of a weird feeling. You're excited to see them, but it's also weird to have to face them. We all know when the puck drops, it gets competitive. And these guys are the same way -- they're not going to give me an inch out there."
Earlier in camp, Couturier, 20, acknowledged he "leaned" on the almost-36-year-old Briere for advice when they were teammates. They were housemates for 11/2 years.
"I was with him almost 24/7, so it should be a special game for both of us," Couturier said. " ... Since day one, he kind of took me under his wing and adopted me, and I felt like a big brother for his boys. It was a fun experience, to be sure."
Briere said when he signed with the Flyers and played his first few contests against former team, Buffalo, "they were tough games, mentally, to get ready for. And on the ice you have to shut off the fact that they're your buddies and you have to move on for that three-hour span."
The Flyers and Canadiens are each 0-1; each lost to Toronto.
Before his Montreal debut against the Leafs, Briere was involved in an emotional ceremony with one of the Canadiens' legends.
"It was a pretty special feeling," Briere said. "The Montreal Canadiens organization showed a lot of class by giving me a chance to be the first one to get the torch from one of the all-time greats in Guy Lefleur."
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