If you think the Flyers might suddenly change course just because the team has changed general managers, think again.
At an introductory Zoom media conference call on Sunday morning, new interim GM Daniel Briere made it clear he plans to continue a “rebuild” of the Flyers and it’s not going to happen overnight.
Working off his own experience of playing for general managers of other NHL teams, Briere knows any process must go through deliberate steps.
When he was handed the job on Friday, that’s probably the first thing which came to mind.
“That’s my belief,” Briere said. “It needs to be done the right way. At this point, that’s what’s needed moving forward. Not rushing to things. We’re going to keep on evaluating players. Have a lot of dicussion on which direction we’re going to move.
“There’s no doubt 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 we’re going to do a full fire sale and have a complete new team next year.
“There’s a lot of good young players on the 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 may lack a little experience. But I think it’s the right way to do it at this time.”
While the Flyers have seen the rapid improvement of promising young players such as Owen Tippett, Noah Cates, Cam York, Morgan Frost and Wade Allison, it doesn’t mean the Flyers are just going to pack up veterans such as Travis Konecny, Cam Atkinson, Sean Couturier and Ivan Provorov and send them on their way.
Yes, a modified overhaul of the roster is needed but it can’t be a complete lineup of under-25s.
“I believe it’s needed,” Briere reiterated. “But we have to be careful and I want to make sure: Rebuild doesn’t mean fire sale. There’s a big difference between the two. I want to make sure we’re not going to get rid of everybody. We have some good players here. We’re going to look at every possible option out there.
“I don’t think this is a quick fix. That’s why I’m not afraid to use the word rebuild. But as long as you understand, there’s an asterisk, it’s not a fire sale.”
>Thoughts on Tortorella
As special assistant to former GM Chuck Fletcher, who was let go Friday, Briere was in on the hiring process for a new coach last summer. That turned out to be John Tortorella. Briere believes the Flyers made a wise choice.
“There’s a lot to like about John,” Briere said. “I think what was really striking for me was how he was going to rebuild the culture over here. Looking at the last couple years it was tough to watch at times. I felt we were an easy team to play against. You don’t realize how important culture is until you lose it. We interviewed a lot of great coaches. In my mind, I felt John Tortorella was perfect at this time. Get us back on track and I feel we’ve seen it this year.
“Not just the way we’ve played but talking to players around the league and executives around the league, they all say the same thing: The Flyers are tough to face. They might not have the most talent at this point, they might be a little inexperienced at this point but it’s tough to face you guys. We’re heard that constantly over the year.
“I’ve been really proud of the players and the coaching. The staff, the way they’ve enforced that and how tough they’ve made us. I think it was the right step in the process. The mentality is right around here from what I’ve seen from the previous two years. So it’s exciting. I still think John was the perfect decision at this time for us.”
>Future of senior advisors
A lot has been made about the roles of Flyers greats Bob Clarke, Paul Holmgren and Bill Barber as senior advisors.
Briere was asked if those positions will continue.
“I don’t know at this point,” Briere said. “I’m not sure. What I can tell you is I have a lot of respect for what they’ve accomplished on and off the ice.
“I’ve had a quick chat but that’s all that’s happened. We’ll see moving forward what happens there.”
>Scout staff likely to stay intact
Fletcher’s assistant GM, Brent Flahr, who oversees the scouting and draft department, is likely to stay on with the team, according to Briere.
“That’s my expectation,” Briere said. “I have a great relationship with Brent. He’s been tremendous. He’s included me on everything since I 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.”
>President’s job still open
Briere addressed whether he would be interested in the vacant president’s position.
“Well, I have the GM part in my title so that’s kind of what I’m going with at this point,” he said. “I haven’t really thought about president. At this point I probably see myself as a GM. But I would be open to whatever Dave would see fit.”
>Security of young core group
The Flyers don’t appear to be planning any trades of young players but you never know. At this point, virtually everyone is not an untouchable.
“Our young guys have a lot of value to us,” Briere said. “The young guys are not the guys that we would be shopping obviously. I’ve been really impressed with the development of the guys mentioned under Tortorella. That’s the really exciting part for me. Seeing some of the young guys take a step this year. The last few days seeing guys like (Tyson) Foerster and (Elliot) Desnoyers come up and hold their own. Gives us a lot of hope moving forward.
“They will all be part of the evaluating process. You’ve seen, there’s no one who’s untouchable anywhere. If Wayne Gretzky can be traded, anyone can. But obviously some players have more value than others. I’m not going to deny that.”
>Hoome sweet home
Briere said he has a special spot for Philadelphia, which he now calls home.
“I want to thank Chuck Fletcher as well for the chance, the opportunity of including me on the staff in the past season,” Briere said. “It is a true honor to be in this role. I’ve been a Flyer for a big part of my career. The Flyers I love, the logo. I’ve spent a lot of days, a lot of sweat, a lot of sacrifice for this organization. So it’s a true honor to be in this position.
“It’s also a city I call home. I’ve raised my kids here. That’s what they consider their home. I’m very proud to be here, to live here and to be part of this. All I can say at this point is that I want to do whatever I can to help finish the season, help prepare the right way. Put a plan in place for an important summer ahead of us.”