‘A New Era of Orange’ accomplishes Flyers’ initial goals

Flyers governor Dan Hilferty (left) speaks at Wednesday's press conference along with president of hockey operations Keith Jones.
      VOORHEES, N.J. – The idea was to get the Flyers back on their feet and skating in a forward direction, with no real timeline in mind.

      According to Flyers governor Dan Hilferty and president of hockey operations Keith Jones at Wednesday’s press conference, everything is right on schedule.

      Although the team was in contention for much of the season but faltered in the stretch and missed the playoffs for a fourth straight season, Hilferty and Jones acknowledged a lot of progress was made during the session at the Flyers Training Center.

      Just over a year ago, Hilferty hired Jones for his current position, along with appointing Daniel Briere as general manager (after serving as an assistant) and giving a vote of confidence to head coach John Tortorella.

      Those gentlemen were assigned the task of improving the product on the ice and, by extension, off it. And Hilferty led up a revised group of personnel gathered to enhance the overall fan experience.

      The idea was to once again bring back some pride to the organization and make its success sustainable.

      By all accounts, it was mission accomplished. . .at least for the first season of “A New Era of Orange.”

      That’s why everyone connected with the team sounds fairly positive about what lies ahead in the second year of this organizational strategy.

      “This first year was all about creating an environment, a culture where we accepted nothing but the best,” Hilferty said. “Where excellence is what we’re striving for.

      “It’s about creating an environment where players, coaches and the management part strive for excellence. That’s going to continue.”

      There was a noticeable uptick in the excitement level at the Wells Fargo Center as the Flyers improved over their somewhat depressing 2022-23 season. The team wants to continue that trend.

      Hilferty said he’s thrilled with the leadership displayed by Jones and Briere, plus the performance of former Stanley Cup-winning coach Tortorella. Briere and Jones are two accomplished former players who know the game inside-out. Tortorella’s name came up in coach-of-the-year talk. It’s only a matter of time until their hockey acumen manifests itself on the ice.

      “I’m thrilled with the way the three of them can finish each other’s sentences,” Hilferty said. “And how together we’re going to build a winner.”

      A lot of changes have been made to the Flyers’ roster and it’s safe to say a lot more are in the works. Some of that might have to do with the fact that Philadelphia’s front office appears to be on the same page.

      “If you play at the level in the NHL that Keith and Danny did; coached in the NHL at the level ‘Torts’ has, there are egos involved,” Hilferty said. “But I’ve never seen an unwillingness to share and listen to other points of view.

      “For me, that’s No. 1, that we’re building this culture of collaboration.”

      Off the ice, Hilferty wants to make sure that the Flyers reconnect with their fan base, sort of the way it was back in the ‘70s with the “Broad Street Bullies” and again in more recent times like with the 2010 Stanley Cup contender.

      “For me, there’s nothing more important than going through the stands and making sure that the fans recognize that they may not always agree with this, they may not be comfortable with a signing or a trade,” Hilferty said. “But we’re about restoring that great tradition of Flyers hockey.”

      According to Hilferty, a lot of progress was made in the 2023-24 campaign.

      “Anytime there’s a new regime, there’s a reason for a new regime,” he said. “If you look at the track record we’re had over the past decade, it’s been not a great one.

      “I felt we needed to do things – we needed to change the discussion of ‘oh, here we go again, it’s a losing environment’ to ‘what are they up to’. . .they’re looking at us in the eye and having a conversation about where we’re headed. That’s what we’ve tried to change.”

      That’s how the New Era of Orange came about.

      “That’s what we’re trying to change,” Hilferty said. “The New Era of Orange was about looking each of you in the eye and have an honest conversation about where we are.”

      Hilferty said in recent years the Flyers suffered a dip in attendance. On social media, there was no excitement about the team.

      “Now people feel better about where we are,” Hilferty said. “It’s about building for the long haul and doing it in a way that is as transparent as possible in an environment where not everything can be transparent.”

      Hilferty reported that ticket sales are up (approximately 95 percent of last year’s season ticketholders have renewed).

      He’s hoping that New York Rangers fans “won’t be able to buy a ticket at the Wells Fargo Center.

      “We aren’t there yet,” Hilferty said with a smile. “But we are seeing more enthusiasm when we talk to people.”

      Hilferty, who came to the Flyers after decades of leadership in the health industry, said he used to walk down the streets of Philadelphia and no one would recognize him.

      “People stop me on the street now,” he said. “They say, ‘Dan, I want to say thank you. You’ve got a long way to go but I’m back. I’m on board.’ It’s not once or twice a week, it’s once or twice a day.”

      Added Jones: “The messaging leaving the building was something we really wanted to concentrate on, be it staff or players. We wanted an environment where people felt good about what they were doing and where we were headed. I think that’s something that occurred over the last year. We have a long way to go but it does start from within and I do think there’s been a lot of progress made.”

      The “New” Era of Orange might be a bit older next season but the message remains fresh: Make the Flyers again what they once were.

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About Wayne Fish 2444 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.