As Danny Briere mentioned a few times during his introductory press conference, it’s been only 48 hours since he was named the interim GM of the Flyers. Things have been chaotic for the former NHL player as he pushes through the emotions of the opportunity that he has been given.
And while there has been plenty of excitement and even a little bit of surprise, Briere talked at length about the process the Flyers will need to go through. This isn’t going to be a quick process, it’s going to take a few years to do it. And to do this right, they cannot rush things, something that has been done in the past.
“That’s my belief. It needs to be done the right way. I think that’s what’s needed and important moving forward, not rushing things. There’s no doubt this is not a quick fix in my mind.”
There will be no certainties with Briere as well. With the interim tag, there is no guarantee that the Flyers will keep him on as part of the long-term future. But even with his lack of traditional experience, Briere wasn’t afraid to show confidence in himself that he would be the right person for the job.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that I can do the job. I’m going to have some great people around me as well. I was never a player that worked alone. I always believed in team-mentality first and it’s going to be the same approach on this side.”
The decision on the Flyers future isn’t necessarily something Briere could answer right now. As mentioned above, he has only been in this position for 48 hours. The real stuff will come from Chairman of Comcast Spectacor Governor of the Philadelphia Flyers Dave Scott and newly-hired Comcast-Spectacor CEO Dan Hilferty. Those two will have a lot of decisions to make moving forward in terms of his this team will execute the much-needed rebuild.
Prior to this experience for Briere, he was touted to run the day-to-day operations of the Maine Mariners in 2017. There he became familiar with all sides of hockey operations and the business side of the game as well. But it wasn’t just the professional experience that Briere talked about. When he was playing, Briere felt he was always someone that studied more than just his opponents. It was studying the GM’s and what they were doing as well.
It was something that Briere cited he began doing deeper during his time in Buffalo with then GM Darcy Regier and how he built a young team and took them to back to back conference finals. It was learning under Paul Holmgren in Philadelphia, Marc Bergevin in Montreal, and Joe Sakic in Colorado.
While this current process is going to take some time, the focus for the rest of the season will be helping John Tortorella and the coaching staff in any way that he can in order to finish out the year strong.
Briere had the opportunity to be in on the interviews when the Flyers were looking for their new head coach. While interviewing plenty of great coaches who likely could’ve done the job, it was Tortorella that stuck out to Briere.
His ability to change and rebuild the culture that has been missing from the Flyers in recent years was important and he’s done a solid job in doing so. The team’s reputation of being an easy team to play against appears to be no more.
“We interviewed a lot of great candidates, guys that were probably great coaches and could’ve done the job. But in my mind, I felt John Tortorella was the perfect guy at this time to get us back on track. And I really feel we’ve seen this, we’ve seen it this year. Not just the way we play, but talking to other players around the league, executives around the league and they all say the same thing. The Flyers are tough to face. They may not have the most talent at this point, they may be a little inexperienced at this point, but man it’s tough to face you guys.”
It will also be putting people in the right places in order to find the right player in the draft. And in terms of evaluating, Briere talked about learning a lot from Brent Flahr when he was first brought into the organization. Flahr is someone that has been there and helped Briere along the way.
“I have a great relationship with Brent. He’s been tremendous, he’s included me on everything since I’ve started working with Chuck. I have a lot of confidence in Brent. You look at his track record at the draft, it’s pretty impressive.”
There will certainly be other changes throughout the organization, whether that be with the players or the front office. But Briere won’t be “rocking the boat” just yet. He is going to listen to everyone that he has around them for their own opinions to go along with his own.
“We’ll have a lot of discussions in which direction we’re going to move, but there’s no doubt that this is not a quick fix in my mind. I believe it’s going to take a little while, but at the same time, it doesn’t mean that we’re going to do a full fire sale and have a complete new team next year. There’s a lot of good players. There’s a lot of good young players on this team. We’ve definitely gone on the younger side and I think it shows at times. It showed this year and it’s going to show until the end of the year. We’re a younger team. We maybe lack a little bit of experience. I think it’s the right way to go at this time.”
As mentioned, Briere stressed that while he does agree with a rebuild being necessary, it doesn’t mean that the team will have a “fire sale.” They won’t be completely gutting the team and starting new next year. However, there are no such things as untouchables and the Flyers cannot afford to not take calls on everyone. The evaluation process starts now for Briere and will be ongoing throughout the rest of this year.
Rebuilding is no longer a taboo word to use. And finally admitting it is the first step for what is going to be a long journey back to contention for the Flyers.