PHILADELPHIA – It’s going to take time and a whole lot of patience.
Both Flyers new president of hockey operations Keith Jones and general manager Daniel Briere agree there will be no attempt at quick fixes for the Flyers.
At Friday’s press conference at the Wells Fargo Center, Jones said the slow-steady approach came up a lot in his job interviews with Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO and team governor Dan Hilferty
Although there might be a formidable amount of pressure coming from season ticketholders, social media and the general fan base to have the Flyers back in contention as quickly as possible, shortcuts can’t be taken.
Three years gone since their last playoff appearance, the Flyers might need at least another year or two to get things back on track.
Heck, it took the New Jersey Devils a decade to win a playoff series but at least now they have a bright future.
“I think patience is a key word,” Jones said. “It’s going to take some time. We have a plan, we (the leadership group) are going to get together and really work on that plan and it’s probably going to take a little while.
“But we do have a little bit of time. The team made some strides last year. Two years ago this was not a fun team to follow. I was in the same boat as the fans, covering it closely (as a TV analyst). I know our fans, have had many conversations with them. And that (failure) was not acceptable.”
Under then-first year head coach John Tortorella, the Flyers took a step in the right direction last year and Jones wants the Flyers to continue on that path.
“But we have more work to do,” Jones said. “How quickly we can get that done, it’s ultimately going to be about the players, having some players in good health is a major plus for us – (Sean) Couturier and (Cam) Atkinson. But we’re in a position where we want to build certain areas of our team, continue to keep the strengths that are there, but there are spots that need a lot of work.”
Jones said he and Briere will put heads together to come up with an agreement on how this all comes about.
“I have, on purpose, not delved too deeply into our players and their personalities. I never felt that was my job, covering the team from a television perspective,” Jones said. “So now I will get to know our players and they will get to know me.
“I want them to know I’m there for them and they’re going to feel like they are part of something special.”
Briere has been on the job for just over two months and has already spoken to why the Flyers should follow the Devils’ approach of not making quick fixes but rather relying on the draft and trades to make the team younger.
So, can the Flyers make themselves into somewhat of a contender in the near future to show everyone some progress is being made?
“The quicker the better, obviously,” Briere said with a grin. “Look, if I can put a Stanley Cup contender on the ice in October, I would do it. But obviously it’s not realistic. It depends on how things fall into place, how players develop.
“I think it’s too premature at this point to put a number on it. So many things have to fall into place before we kind of have an idea where we’re going. You can look at a team like New Jersey. They were kind of spinning their wheels and rebuilding, but they were doing it the right way. And then boom! This year they popped and they’re one of the best teams in the NHL. I give them credit, they were patient, they didn’t let the noise affect them.”
So tuning out the outside static will be a priority.
“That’s probably going to be the toughest thing for us,” Briere said. “To stay patient, and keep with the process we believe in.”
All indications are the Flyers will be active during the offseason, moving players who might not fit into the future and bringing on board those who do.
So if you think that Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov or Carter Hart are “untouchable,” think again.
“I don’t think we’re in a position to have untouchable players,” Briere said. “I like and I love a lot of our players but we’re not in a position to say no or not listen.
“My duty is to do what’s best for this organization.”