It wasn’t like the appointment of Daniel Briere to become new interim general manager of the Flyers came from out of the blue.
In fact, he believes the process probably started more than 20 years ago when he began competing for the Buffalo Sabres just several seasons into his two-decade NHL playing career.
Briere claims even back then he was studying how the system worked, from the players to the coaches to the general managers.
That interest carried all the way through to his second career as a talent evaluator and strategist.
And the former Flyer star center believes that experience helps make him qualified to take over the rebuild program which started under recently fired Chuck Fletcher.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that I can do the job,’’ Briere stated during a Sunday morning media Zoom conference call from the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, New Jersey. “I’m going to have some great people around me. It’s not something I’m going to do alone. I was never a player that worked alone. . .team first, team mentality first. It’s going to be the same approach on this side.
“I love working with people and it’s going to be the same way moving forward. Even when I played, I was someone who studied my opponents. Also studied my GMs and what they were doing. What other GMs were doing.”
Briere played for five different NHL teams and wherever he went, he kept his eyes and ears open. He learned what worked and what didn’t.
“I probably started doing that a little deeper when I got to Buffalo (2002-03),” Briere said. “The way (GM) Darcy Regier kind of built a young team. Went to a couple back-to-back conference finals.”
From Buffalo, Briere was brought into Philadelphia by then-GM Paul Holmgren. The Flyers were in a rebuild of their own at that point (2006-07), coming off the worst record in franchise history.
“We were coming off a year when we finished last, I believe the year before I got here,’’ Briere recalled. “I learned a lot under Paul. . .the way he was able to rebuild that team.”
Following a six-year stint in Philadelphia, Briere went on to play for Montreal and Colorado. These were similar situations at these two stops.
“I went to Montreal with Marc Bergevin,” Briere said. “Where he also had to rebuild the character of his team. (He was) able to take his team to the conference final. And (GM) Joe Sakic in Colorado. I got there early in the process. They were just the latest Stanley Cup champions (2021-22). I was there early in the process when that rebuild was being made. I like to think I was able to help some of the young guys because I was at the end of my career, in a leadership role. I felt I was there more for leadership.”
More recently, Briere took over management of the Maine Mariners before becoming a special assistant to Fletcher. It’s also been part of the learning experience.
“Since then (with the Avalanche) I’ve tried to follow how teams were building their teams,” Briere said. “And I’ve also learned on the business side. Different things that you don’t realize as a player. How everything works in front offices. It’s been a great process.
“Maybe I was hired under Chuck in the past year, but my journey started a long, long time ago. And I’ve always been someone who’s paid attention to what’s going on and how a process is being done. And how I could use it if one day I would be in that position. It’s something I saw myself doing from early on when I was playing. I always believed I could be in this position one day. It’s why (today) it’s so special and exciting for me.”
Although the interim tag indicates Briere has received no assurances of becoming the full-time GM at some point, the Quebec, Canada native believes his resume speaks for itself.
Briere was asked if there might be any uncertainty caused by the lack of a complete commitment.
“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Briere said. “I’m Ok with it. I don’t have a problem with the interim tag. I like that (team governor) Dave (Scott) and his staff are going to take the proper time to evaluate who should be full-time in that position. I see myself staying here and being part of the future.
“I hope they believe in me as well. It feels that way. Honestly I don’t have a problem with the tag. We’ll see what happens next. I’m honored to be here in this position. I want to do everything possible to help. Put this franchise on the right track at this point.”