With a vital 10 days ahead for the ongoing construction of a winning franchise, the Kraken started the month with a potentially transformational hire by signing goalie coach Steve Briere Tuesday. Briere steered both Frederick Andersen and Jack Campbell to NHL All-Star appearances over seven seasons in Toronto and worked on the same staff with Seattle head coach Dave Hakstol for two years.
“We’re excited to welcome Steve to the Kraken,” said Kraken GM Ron Francis. “Steve’s body of work speaks for itself. He has been successful throughout his career and we expect the same in Seattle. He will bring additional value to our coaching staff.”
“Anytime you have the opportunity to work in the NHL it’s a privilege and I’m beyond excited to get started in Seattle,” said Briere. “I would like to thank the organization and specifically Ron Francis and Dave Hakstol for believing in me… the chance to help build something special alongside them.”
In Toronto, Briere worked with Frederick Andersen and Jack Campbell among “20-some goalies” he coached in the Maple Leafs organization. Both were invited to NHL All-Star games with Briere as the goalie coach, Andersen in 2020 and Campbell this past season.
Andersen won 149 games during his tenure with the Maple Leafs, which ranked fourth in the NHL and his .914 save percentage ranked 10th among goaltenders who appeared in at least 200 games during that span.
Campbell, picked 11th overall in the 2010 draft, enjoyed his best seasons in Toronto, notching a 48-12-8 regular season record over the last two seasons. Campbell set a career high in wins with 31 last season and set NHL and Toronto franchise records for most consecutive wins to start a season with 11 in 2020-21.
“Obviously, since coming to Toronto, Steve Briere has been unbelievable for me,” Campbell told the media. “We’re just trying to get better each day.”
“I try to be a student of a game and reinvent myself every year,” said Briere during an exclusive interview Monday. “Part of being a great leader, coach or business owner, is you have to constantly adapt to get better. My job is to create a plan that fits the goaltender instead of changing him into the way I say he should play … It’s about creating belief he can be great.”
Briere played nine professional seasons in goal and won a national championship at the college level in 2000. But his skills and significant upside as a goalie coach proved out at various levels of the sport. For one, he returned to Alabama-Huntsville, his alma mater, to guide Minnesota Wild goalie Cam Talbot to a national championship of his own in 2009-10.
During his Alabama-Huntsvile coaching stint, he consulted with several juniors teams, helping three different starting goaltenders to earn full NCAA scholarships. He then made the jump to full-time roles in five different juniors leagues, mentoring six goalies who were subsequently drafted by NHL teams and eight overall who won goalie-of-the-year awards.
Perhaps most important to Briere’s qualifications for NHL jobs in Toronto and now Seattle is his close ties to NHL goaltending guru Mitch Korn, currently director of goaltending with the Washington Capitals. Korn joined Nashville as goalie coach in 2001 and moved to Washington in 2015. Korn worked with Seattle’s Philipp Grubauer for the goaltender’s first three full seasons with the Capitals, posting save percentages of .918, .926 and .923 and pairing with NHL goalie Braden Holtby to win the 2018 Stanley Cup.
Briere played for the ECHL Cincinnati Cyclones in 2001-02, working with Korn because the ECHL team was a Nashville Predators affiliate. He and Korn stayed in touch and have communicated frequently since Briere started his goalie coach career, which has included starting his own goalie camps business over the last two decades.
“I’ve been very fortunate that I got to work with Mitch and then I got to work with Wayne Thomas [former NHL goalie and retired San Jose executive and goalie director]. Those are two guys who have been in the game for more than 30 years. I really got a good education on coaching goalies in the NHL and all levels.
“It’s all about winning and doing the work,” said Briere, who will be in Seattle for the Kraken Development Camp July 11-14. “I can’t wait to get going.”