Briere ready to prove to Flyers, fans that he's worth it

Sam Donnellon

A YEAR AGO, Jamie Moyer was one of this city’s darlings. Now he says he feels “disheartened” and “misled” by the Phillies, which is exactly how one wiseguy e-mailer said he has been feeling when Moyer has taken the mound recently.

It’s popular to say this town sticks with first impressions and forgives grudgingly, that once you land in our hearts you will never leave. But the reaction to Moyer’s reaction to being sent to the bullpen has been mostly negative, and it wasn’t that many summers ago when fans wanted to run Keith Primeau out of town for running Bill Barber off the Flyers’ bench.

After a herculean playoff effort that preceded an unfortunate forced retirement due to concussion issues, Primeau is now revered around here, a fixture in that small and privileged club that Moyer would no doubt be part of had he just rode off into the sunset after his gutty performance in Game 3 of the World Series last October.

Which leads to the plight of 31-year-old Danny Briere. Two summers ago, following a disastrous season, the Flyers signed Briere to an 8-year, $52 million contract. Implied in the numbers was that Briere was a star to build around, a guy who would take the pressure off young forwards like Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, make them better. Briere struggled early in his first year here, but he was a big part of an energized and unexpected playoff run that ended that season in the Eastern Conference finals, and his resurgence was one of the reasons even greater things were expected of the maturing Flyers last season.

Those expectations were stomped upon by a team that often seemed indifferent to its maddening inconsistencies, right up to the final regular-season loss to the Rangers at home. Plagued by groin issues all season, Briere was around for only 29 of those games, and he was hardly the player the Flyers paid for when he was on the ice. A lack of mobility affected his quickness, which affected his playmaking and scoring touch.