The Strange Case of Danny B


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The Colorado Avalanche traded one of their few wingers, P.A. Parenteau, for veteran center Daniel Briere. Colorado even threw in a fifth-round draft pick to seal the deal, meaning they paid more than just a player to acquire Briere from the Montreal Canadiens.

However, Briere is a healthy scratch tonight against the New York Islanders. It’s the seventh straight game Danny B. has sat out. Prior to that his ice time dwindled as head coach Patrick Roy stopped including him on specialty teams.On the flip side, Parenteau has played in all of the Canadiens’ games and has even seen time on specialty teams.

Why exactly did the Avs give up Parenteau and a draft pick for a bench-warmer, then? A $4 million bench warmer no less?

Parenteau on the Outs

For some reason, Parenteau never jived with coach Roy. He spent a lot of time on injured reserve last season with knee injuries he strangely kept acquiring in games against the Winnipeg Jets. Parenteau acknowledges this may have been a factor:

"“I don’t know why it didn’t work, but my relationship with Patrick (Roy) never took off. I wish it were otherwise. It seems that when I was injured [sprained MCL] over the holidays, everything tumbled afterward.”"

Even when Parenteau got better ahead of schedule, he started sitting out games as a healthy scratch per Roy. Coach Roy didn’t comment much on the situation except to remark that all players had to earn their spots on the team, and he had some hopefuls playing well at the time.

Indeed, as the March trade deadline neared, Parenteau’s name was bandied about quite a lot, especially with Montreal. At the time it was rumored Joe Sakic wasn’t offering enough. So, really, it was no surprise at all when the Avs announced they had pulled the trigger on the Parenteau trade to Montreal.

Briere Comes In

Briere has already had a long NHL career, being in his 18th season and with his fifth team. Naturally, in that time he’s had his ups and downs. He’s been on the ins with his teams, and he’s been on the outs. His time with the Buffalo Sabres, from 2002 to 2007, was one of the high points of his career. He earned the moniker “Cookie Monster” because he likes to shoot top shelf, “where Mom hides the cookies” according to RDS 25. More significantly, he was named team captain.

Briere signed with the Philadelphia Flyers as an unrestricted free agent in 2007, and he had success there, too. Until he didn’t. The Flyers bought out his contract in 2013. Briere went to Montreal for a year where, like Parenteau, he failed to mesh with the new coach’s style. Voila, he landed in Colorado.

It’s hard to say how well Briere played for Colorado because the Avs have struggled across the board. However, playing in the first 10 games of the 2014-15 season, Danny B. recorded two goals and an assist. Both of those goals happened to be game winners, the only game-winning goals scored in those 10 games.

Play Him or Trade Him

So, we return to the question, why did the Avs give up so much to acquire a $4 million bench warmer — or, more accurately, club suite warmer?

There’s the possibility that coach Roy wanted to get rid of Parenteau so badly he didn’t care what he got in return. Roy is renowned for his impetuous behavior. Avs GM Joe Sakic is not, though, and he was integral in organizing the trade.

It’s likely that for some reason known only to coach Roy, forwards Dennish Everberg and Marc-Andre Cliche display skill sets more integral to Avalanche success than Briere does. Not that the Avs have really been more successful without Danny B., but there’s no telling what aspect of the game Roy is looking at. Except… there sort of is:

  • Everberg is younger and bigger than Briere. He’s up-and-coming for the Avs.
  • Cliche is younger and bigger than Briere. He does pretty well on the penalty kill, one of the few bright spots the Avs have had this season.

It’s certainly no slam to Danny B. that he’s older and smaller than the two forwards who take up his potential spot on the team. Briere has worked very hard in his time, and he even gained notoriety for training with Canada’s World’s Strongest Man competitor Hugo Girard in the off season. As Avalanche center Matt Duchene put it, Danny B. is gutsy.

There’s also the possibility that the position once inhabited by Parenteau and now taken by Briere is cursed by Roy for some reason. It’s not an exact position since Parenteau’s a winger who’s seen top-6 time, while Briere’s a center for the bottom-6. It’s a nebulous curse placed on who got traded for the unwanted Parenteau, and who might eventually get traded for Briere.

It’s a pity, really. Danny B. really seemed to be meshing with his teammates — his big man-small man hugs with defenseman Erik Johnson were already becoming legendary. Briere’s an excellent team player, and there’s some scoring left in those hands yet. Here’s to hoping he finds a way to crack the Avalanche lineup again.