LAVAL, Que. -- Daniel Brière feels he is finally ready to play for the team he worshipped as a kid in Gatineau, Que.
The best-known of the Montreal Canadiens' off-season acquisitions, along with tough guy George Parros and defenceman Douglas Murray, was mobbed by media as he joined his new teammates for the first time at the club's annual charity golf tournament on Tuesday.
Brière, 35, signed a two-year contract worth $4 million per season after he was bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers, who were in salary-cap trouble and couldn't keep the five-foot-10 centre.
"I take it a step at a time, with today being the first step," said Brière. "The biggest step will be wearing that jersey out onto the ice.
"That will be a big thrill. It's something I've always dreamed of doing."
Brière had a chance to do it in 2007, when he turned down the Canadiens to sign an eight-year, $52-million deal with the Flyers. This time, he said he didn't want to miss what may be his last chance to play for Montreal.
"I think I'm ready at this stage of my career," he said.
It hasn't been determined whether he will play his usual position at centre, where the Canadiens have lots of bodies, or on the wing. Either way, he will add skill and experience to one of the top attacking lines, even if he won't make a smaller-than-average team any bigger.
General manager Marc Bergevin, entering his second season, hopes to have addressed that with the six-foot-five Parros and six-foot-three Murray.
"Two of the guys bring size and toughness, which was a need we had to fill," said Bergevin. "And Danny brings leadership.
"He's a player who had options and he chose to come to Montreal. For a French-Canadian, I think that's huge. He's happy to be here, and to us that means a lot."
Brière has been a solid points producer throughout his career, but he is mostly known for playing his best in big games, especially the playoffs, where he has 109 points in 108 games.
And he feels the Canadiens have become a hard team to play against with their speed and a balanced attack.
"More and more, the pieces are coming together for this team to be successful," he said. "They took a major step in the right direction last year with key additions (Brandon Prust), and also with some good young players taking a step.
"With guys like myself, Parros and Murray coming here, hopefully we'll move even more in that direction. I'm not coming here to be a passenger. I want to be here, but I also want to make a difference. I want to be a guy they can rely on for offence and who can help at any time."
--The Canadian Press