Keith Jones doesn’t just talk a good game.
He thinks a good one as well.
That’s a big reason why the Flyers named the much-heralded TV broadcaster their new president of hockey operations on Thursday.
It was a monumental day for the beleaguered franchise, which has missed the Stanley Cup playoffs each of the past three seasons. In addition to the Jones hire, the Flyers also removed the interim general manager tag from Daniel Briere and named him the official GM.
The Flyers have scheduled a Friday morning press conference to officially introduce Jones and Briere for their new positions.
According to the Flyers, with this announcement, the Flyers have finalized their new management structure.
Jones will lead the strategic direction for all aspects of the hockey operations department while collaborating on business goals.
Meanwhile, Briere will be responsible for all hockey decisions as it pertains to signings, trades and draft picks as well as overseeing scouting, player development, roster construction and more.
Head coach John Tortorella will remain boss of the bench and like most head coaches in the NHL, he will provide input on various management topics.
Dan Hilferty, Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO and governor of the Flyers, expressed enthusiasm for the two critical hires.
“Today marks a new era for the Philadelphia Flyers,” he said in a statement released by the Flyers. “This is a storied franchise with the most passionate fans in the National Hockey League. Our ultimate goal is to deliver them a championship. Achieving that goal will take time. We intend to honor the incredible history of the orange and black while paving a fresh path forward. That starts by creating a winning culture throughout the organization.
“Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to put together collaborative teams that have achieved great things. This is about more than simply hiring a president of hockey operations and general manager. We are thoughtfully constructing a leadership team. Our top priority was to find leaders who bring unique skill sets, experience and temperament to maximize the group’s potential.”
Jones has been successful both as a NHL player and in the broadcast booth, earning praise for his work with the Flyers and on national TV.
“It was critical to find someone who would complement coach Tortorella and Danny in their roles while overseeing the strategic direction of the team,” Hilferty said. “As a former player whose career concluded in Philadelphia, ‘Jonesy’ understands the value of creating chemistry and enabling leadership within a team. He has extensive experience analyzing and evaluating talent, and knows first-hand how important collaboration is on and off ice – a key factor for us moving forward.”
Hilferty went on to reiterate the importance of collaboration on the management-coaching level.
“With this new Flyers leadership in place, we are committed to a collaborative approach on and off the ice,” he said.
It sounds like Tortorella will have even more input into the direction this team is taking.
“Entering his second season, John Tortorella has set the tone for what is expected from our players,” Hilferty said. “Torts has extensive experience behind the bench with a proven track record of success, which includes a Stanley Cup championship. Having a coach of his caliber already in place is a tremendous advantage.”
As for Briere, Hilferty left no doubt about the decision to make his position official.
“Danny brings a fresh perspective and intense drive to the GM role,” Hilferty said. “Danny is enthusiastic about rebuilding the franchise he knows so well, having spent eight seasons in our front office and six seasons as a player.
“After an impressive 17-year NHL career, he understands today’s game, today’s player, and how to make smart hockey decisions as we navigate the future of both. Danny has proven without a doubt that he is the right person for this job and what we are trying to accomplish.
“I have full confidence that both Keith and Danny. . .are the right leadership team to guide the Flyers. We are unanimously committed to rebuilding and sustaining a winning culture – and doing it the right way.”
Jones expressed gratitude for the hire and the strong vote of confidence.
“I would like to thank Dan Hilferty for this opportunity and confidence in me,” he said. “Today is one of the most humble and proudest days of my life. To be able to lead this team back to the winning tradition that everyone knows it can, and should be, is a true honor and one that I do not take lightly.
“I consider the Philadelphia Flyers organization the gold standard of the NHL and professional sports. I’ve seen how this city and these fans can rally around their team and there is nothing that compares to that feeling. With this leadership group in place, I am beyond excited and fully confident that we are on the right path and the results will come.”
As a player, Briere was known for his high hockey IQ and the way he thought and played the game. Those are the main characteristics which should mark his tenure as GM.
“To say that this has been a dream of mine would be an understatement,” said Briere. “I’ve dedicated my life to the sport of hockey and to be given this opportunity with the confidence from Dan Hilferty and the leadership group, in a city that means so much to me, words cannot describe my excitement.
“I truly believe this is an exciting time for the Flyers with the steps that we’ve taken this past season, the way our team has responded to the standard that was set both on and off the ice, and the path that we are on. There is a lot of work to be done, but these last few months have only strengthened my resolve and made me even more eager to rebuild this team and deliver this city a Stanley Cup.”
Jones spent the previous 23 years as an analyst for Flyers telecasts on NBC Sports Philadelphia (NBCSP), as well as national broadcasts on NBC, and most recently for TNT’s coverage of the NHL in each of the last two seasons. He covered marquee games such as the NHL Winter Classic, the Stanley Cup Final and other league showcase events. In addition to his work on NBCSP and NBC, Jones also spent 21 years on SportsRadio 94 WIP’s Morning Show.
A native of Brantford, Ontario, Jones played nine years (1992-2001) in the National Hockey League (NHL) and registered 258 points (117 goals, 141 assists) and 765 penalty minutes in 491 career regular season games with Washington, Colorado and Philadelphia. He collected 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) and 120 penalty minutes in 63 career Stanley Cup Playoff contests in eight consecutive postseasons (1992-2000). He retired on November 21, 2000 due to a knee injury.