Two days ago, it seemed as if Flyers’ center Danny Briere would be ready to return to action from a chronic groin injury that has kept him out for 22 games. But after crossing words with General Manager Paul Holmgren about his readiness to play Wednesday night against the Atlanta Thrashers, Briere was suddenly sat back down with the injury and will undergo a minor surgery to try and correct the groin and stomach problem once and for all. But does the the trip back to the LTIR have to do with Briere’s injury or the Flyers’ struggles with the salary cap?
It is a well known fact that the Flyers are hard pressed against the $56.7 salary cap without Briere in the lineup. With Briere, Philadelphia is around $1.5 – $3 million over the cap, with the exact number highly contested. With Briere’s imminent return, it was speculated that the Flyers would be forced to move a regular roster player in order to get Danny back in the lineup. Randy Jones and Joffrey Lupul are two of the bigger names that were thought to be shopped. Each make $2 million-plus and would allow the cap relief needed, along with sending rookie Luca Sbisa back to juniors and possibly sending either Claude Giroux or Darroll Powe back to the AHL.
Just a day before Briere was cleared by doctors to make his long-awaited return, Holmgren told the press that Danny might not be 100%, and is still doubtful for the final game before the All Star break.
“Right now we’re not sure where he’s at; he didn’t feel that good today,” said Holmgren. “So that’s probably the likely scenario [remains on LTIR].”
In retort, Briere respectfully disagreed, saying the decision to keep him out was more of a ‘business decision’ rather than a health concern.
The disagreement between the player and GM was brought back into question a day later, when the Flyers officially announced that Briere had suddenly re-aggravated the injury and would miss two more weeks. A suspicious turn of events, especially since it only took 24 hours for Briere’s mindset to change from ‘I’m not hurt, let me play’, to ‘I’m too hurt to play’.
“I am very disappointed,” said Briere. “It’s been frustrating not knowing what is going on, so we have decided to go in and check things out.”
Keeping Briere on the LTIR for two more weeks gives the Flyers more time to make a decision and complete a deal for cap room. It also gives Briere, who has five goals and four assists in nine games this season, a chance to fully recover from a unpredictable groin injury. Either way, it’s not a complete wrong doing by the Flyers, who can make an educated decision, without feeling the pressure of time, while also getting a refreshed Briere for the playoff push.