PITTSBURGH – It’s no secret Flyers new interim general manager Danny Briere is a shrewd talent evaluator and someone who knows the game inside out.
Just ask the players.
Scott Laughton, the closest thing the Flyers have to a captain, was just an 18-year-old rookie when he received a brief five-game trial with the Flyers back in the 2012-13 season.
Meanwhile, Briere was just finishing up a six-year tenure with the Flyers, which had included a memorable run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2009-10.
Laughton was around long enough that first season to see how crafty an athlete Briere was. The Flyers are hoping a lot of that moxey carries over into this phase of his hockey management career.
“Yeah, I think bringing in Danny; he was there when I started in 2012, he was playing for the Flyers. I know him through that. A really smart hockey mind,” Laughton said prior to Saturday afternoon’s Flyers-Penguins game at PPG Paints Arena.
“He’s a guy that helps out pretty much wherever he can in the organization in years previous. Skated with us, little things like that. Little things like on the PK. That goes a long way. So, I’m excited to have him. Probably have a conversation with him in the near future. It’s exciting to have him come in. It just hasn’t been good enough here for the last couple years.”
James van Riemsdyk was a rookie with the Flyers in 2009-10 when Briere helped lead the team to its most recent Stanley Cup Final visit. Briere registered a team-record 30 points in the postseason, a mark which stands to this day.
JVR said Briere has had a strong influence on his career.
“I think he loves the game and loves being around the game,” van Riemsdyk said. “He’s got a kind of analytical intelligence that he tries to view the game through. He definitely seems like someone who is willing to learn, willing to adapt. That’s a key thing when you’re a GM, you have to manage all these different things, have a plan for the future.
“He seems like someone who always wants to learn about different things about the game that guys can use to improve themselves as players. I think he’s got a head on his shoulders for all that.”
While the Flyers are happy to see Briere promoted, a couple expressed disappointment they couldn’t do more to help outgoing GM Chuck Fletcher’s job security.
“I guess I was probably a little surprised,” Laughton said. “Probably wasn’t expecting it there. We move forward. You never want to see a guy like Chuck lose his job. He’s a really, really great man. He was a guy who made it very easy to talk to on a daily basis. You knew where you were at and I respected him for that.”
Laughton said Fletcher was easy to work with.
“In previous years I was always scared of management,’’ Laughton said. “He kept a pretty open door. So I’ll always say thank you for that. That falls on us too – playing better.”
As for Briere, Laughton was asked why this move should work in the Flyers’ favor.
“Yeah, he went down to Maine (to work with the Mariners) for a while,” Laughton said. “I think he was doing pretty much everything there, learning the ropes. He’s been around us for quite some time. I went on the ice with him a couple summers ago. Just little different shooting techniques and stuff that he picks up on. He was an amazing player and has learned a great deal in the last couple years so it’s exciting for him.”
Although this was a very big move in the Flyers’ front office, there could be more changes and Laughton acknowledges that.
“We know we’re not where we need to be as an organization and playing the way we should as players,” Laughton said. “Ultimately it falls on the guys going out and doing their jobs on the ice every night. If we do our jobs these last 17 games, that’s all we can control and let the chips fall where they may from everyone else.”
Defenseman Cam York found Fletcher a personable boss who always had his best interests in mind.
“Last summer I spent time in Voorhees working out,” York said. “He was around everyday. So I got to talk to him a bunch. I think he’s a great guy. I’m real excited for him and what he’s going to do here. I think we’re all proud of him. He’s been here, he’s had experience with the Flyers. I think the guys were really excited he’s here.”