It’s been a few months since the Philadelphia Flyers dismissed Chuck Fletcher of his general manager duties as well as president of hockey operations. He was let go after his failure to address the needs of the team at the trade deadline.
In the days that followed, Daniel Briere was promoted as interim general manager of the team. He spent the last few weeks of the season talking with head coach John Tortorella about the direction of the team. But one position still remained open: team president. On Wednesday night, the Flyers had finally found their man.
After searching for months, the Flyers have decided that former Flyer and announcer Keith Jones will take the reins of the team and become the next team president. It had recently been leaked that Jones was a finalist along with fellow broadcaster, and non-Flyer, Eddie Olczyk. Both Jones and Olczyk had previously been announcers on the NBC Sports Network, which was owned by the Comcast Corporation; just like the Flyers.
The position hasn’t been officially announced, but has been confirmed by the likes of Elliotte Friedman. Briere is also expected to have his interim-tag removed as well.
Jones had spent just three of his nine year career in the NHL as a Flyer, playing from 1998-2001 after coming to Philly from a trade with the Colorado Avalanche for Shojn Podein. Jones would play on the top two lines with Eric Lindros and Keith Primeau before injuries took their toll on him. Following his NHL career, he joined the broadcasting booth as a color commentator with the Flyers before Comcast moved him to higher profile gigs covering nationally televised games.
Jones does not have any administrative experience with the Flyers, or any NHL team for that matter. However, if you include his NHL service, he has been involved in the professional hockey world for the last 30 years in one way or another. But ibecause of his lack of front office experience, it is still unclear, at this point, as to how much influence he will have. He does have a previous relationship with Tortorella when he was an announcer on ESPN with Jones. Perhaps that familiarity will help this organization moving forward.
If there is any knock on him, it is that the Flyers organization continues to showcase its nepotism when it comes to team administration hiring protocols. Bobby Clarke, Paul Holmgren, Ron Hextall, and Daniel Briere had all played for the Flyers before becoming general manager; Chuck Fletcher being the only exception for the Flyers over the last 30 years. There have been complaints that this causes the organization to repeatedly make the same mistakes over and over as they never learn from their mistakes or adapt to new trends in the NHL as things must continually be done “the Flyers way.” Even then, most of the candidates for the job had been former Flyers, such as Scott Mellanby, or Chris Pronger.
Most of these guys had also held the title of team president. Perhaps breaking up the role into two parts will help the organization do better as it is better, sometimes, to have multiple voices at the table instead of just one person.
Jones has a lot of hockey knowledge. That could be put to a lot of use with this team. The team has a lot of high paying contracts with low performance on the ice. While there are some prospects worth taking a look at, the talent pool is not really deep. Jones, Briere, and Tortorella have a lot of work ahead along with many tough decisions.