Daniel Briere considers Buffalo his professional hockey home.
It was in his four years with the Buffalo Sabres, two as captain, that his NHL career began in earnest.
He returns to Buffalo Saturday night as one of the veteran elder statesmen of a young, up-and-coming Colorado Avalanche team, but Briere keeps tabs on what’s going on with the Sabres.
“Buffalo will always have a special place for me in my heart,” Briere said in First Niagara Center Saturday afternoon. “I do follow what’s going on with the team.
“I think this is a team that’s going to be dangerous in a few years. I really like what they’re doing and sometimes that’s what you need to do. It’s tough for a few years to kind of take a step back but all ready you can see the team is playing a lot better. They’re not a team you can take for granted by any means. But they’re going in the right direction, the new direction, the new people in place are certainly doing the right things.”
Briere sees head coach Ted Nolan as the instrumental reason for the Sabres recent string of success, being 7-3-0 in their last 10 games and eight points out of a playoff spot.
“Obviously I didn’t expect them to be in first place in the league but you know what, it just seems with Coach Nolan he always finds ways to get his teams going,” Briere said. “So surprised that they’re even battling for a playoff spot? I’m not surprised at all. I think that’s what he does. He’s a good coach. He always finds ways to get the most out of his teams it seems. And once again he’s proven it again this year with this team.”
In his first year with Colorado, Briere has six goals, including three game-winners. He scored his 300th NHL goal Oct. 13 at Boston. That goal came with less than a second left in regulation to give the Avalanche a 2-1 win.
At 37, Briere knows his playing days are winding down, but he’s not concerned with looking too far into the future.
“I'm trying to enjoy what’s going on right now,” he said. “I know I don’t have a lot of time left. So I don’t want to look too far ahead. I’m trying to live in the moment. Embrace what I have now. The end is going to come fast enough and then I don’t want to look back and regret it and said ‘Oh, I should have enjoyed it.’ So that’s what I’m trying to do. Instead of looking out to the future, live in the moment.”