Briere and Jones: More Than a Rebuild, It’s a Culture Shift

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 27: Former Philadelphia Flyer Danny Briere salutes the fans as he is honored for his retirement before the game against the Buffalo Sabres on October 27, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 27: Former Philadelphia Flyer Danny Briere salutes the fans as he is honored for his retirement before the game against the Buffalo Sabres on October 27, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Even with the Stanley Cup playoffs going on, there are two stories that are currently dominating the hockey world right now. One of them is the potential sale of the Ottawa Senators, but nobody cares about the Senators or who is buying them, except that it is a bunch of celebrity names that keep appearing. The other story is the change in leadership of the Philadelphia Flyers and what it means for the team going forward.

I was listening to the SportsNet’s 32 Thoughts Podcast with Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman, and they spent the first 26 minutes, almost half of their broadcast, on the change in leadership with Daniel Briere coming on as the new general manager and Keith Jones as team president. The first one is from March, when Briere was hired, but the second one is with Jones being named as team president  (56 minutes in)

They made several good points that I am going to address. I don’t have time stamps on them as they jumped around a bit, however, I will highly recommend that you listen to it if you get a chance. But here is a summary of things they said and my take on them.

Whack a Mole vs Team Building

I loved this quote. They compared the Flyers previous roster fixing to playing a game of Whack-a-Mole. Meaning that, “Hey we need a goalie….sign him!…..Now we need a defender….get him!”. The plug and play style of building a roster has yielded results in the past, as in keeping them competitive for years, but it hasn’t yielded a cup win. Bobby Clarke and Paul Holmgren did this all the time. It’s left the team financially handicapped and without a clear chart to the future.

As Friedman put it, “This is uncharted territory for the Philadelphia Flyers.” The team is actually laying out a multi-year process in which to build this team back up. It’s not going to be a quick fix. It’s not going to be done over night. This is going to be a long process, but it will bring the Flyers back to respectability.

Briere—No Quick Fix, No Firesale

And part of the team building is that seeing that there is no quick fix. This is not going to be solved over night by signing a free agent or two and/or making a trade or two. This is going to take time and be a process. It might not take years, but it simply will take a while. We must have patience and trust the process (Sixers fans are cringing right now!).

At the same time, the team is not just going to get rid of all the vets, hand the team over to “the kids”, and hope for the best. There are quality veterans worth building around and great young stars that are up and coming. A blending of the two will push this team forward. Yes, some players may have to go, but it is not going to be an outright firesale of the team.

Ian Laperrière’s Role

The AHL coach is a going to be a big part of this process. They played a clip of Briere talking about how when Cam York was demoted, he felt all kinds of upset. He spent that time in Lehigh Valley working with Laperrière. When he made the jump to the NHL level, he was ready to go and had a fantastic rookie campaign.

Laperrière has done a great job working with the younger players in helping them get prepared to make that leap to be successful. We saw that in the brief moments that Tyson Foerster had this year. And there will be many more to come.

Jones and Briere and Torts

In the second podcast, they emphasized the leadership that Briere has really taken charge over the last few months. He is a man in charge. He is confident and his ability and the team ownership has shown their confidence in him.

Likewise, Jones was praised for his hockey intelligence. Yeah, yeah…he’s a broadcaster and seems kind of silly. He is underrated. He was a very competitive player and will surprise everyone in how much he will help drive this team. He could have stayed in broadcasting and made a killing, but he will take this new task very seriously, along with Briere. They felt, and they probably are right, that Jones will be the face of the franchise to the media. Jones knows how to connect with the fans and building that relationship with them.

However, let’s not leave John Tortorella out of this new Philly triumvirate. He took the some games in the last few weeks of the season off from coaching on the bench. He spent that time in the Flyers team box up above with Briere evaluating players and helping to plot out this team’s next moves. He will have a lot of say in the decision making. Jones will be there to be a third voice to challenge both Briere and Torts and to make sure that every path this team makes is correct.

Culture Shift…But Don’t Forget

They also mention that Flyers fans and alumni want the team to honor and remember the past glory days. However, new voices need to be heard. It can’t be the same people driving the bus all the time. If we keep going back to just Clarke and Holmgren, we’ll continue to keep making the same mistakes.

Changes Coming

Friedman and Marek both talked about how they feel that changes will be coming to the team. It has to. Now, they mentioned Ivan Provorov, Kevin Hayes, Carter Hart, and Travis Konecny specifically.  Briere and Jones will have to be bold in moving forward, but they won’t be afraid to pull the trigger if it will help the team out shortly.

I think it is obvious that changes will be made to the roster. The team that closed the year out in April will not be the same that shows up to play in October.  A lot of what is going on will be just speculation until it actually happens.

One thing is for sure, there is new leadership in town and they are bound and determined to take this team in a new direction. The “business as usual approach” hasn’t worked for a while. Things need to change. New ideas and new thinking need to be implemented. Let’s see how this new era of Philadelphia Flyers hockey goes.