Jones sees this long offseason having benefits for young Flyers

Keith Jones

       For Keith Jones, the clock started clicking for the Flyers’ 2024-25 season way back on the night of April 16.

      It’s going to be a long time before the Flyers play another meaningful game and the team’s president of hockey operations says that tenure should be put to good use.

      Six months can feel like an eternity for an outfit which came close to ending a long dry spell before bowing out of the postseason picture for a fourth consecutive season.

      Jones believes this tenure can greatly assist the development of his young players – going over things on and off the ice rather than playing catch with a beachball at some distant port.

      “I look forward to seeing how our players progress,” Jones said during last Wednesday’s press conference at the Flyers Training Center. “What they do in the offseason, it’s a long offseason. That’s one of the benefits for a younger team that doesn’t make the playoffs.”

      Players such as Tyson Foerster, Cam York, Morgan Frost, Owen Tippett and Noah Cates can make themselves better by heeding what Jones had to say.

      Plus there are plenty of new faces who will be attending the Flyers’ development camp the first week of July.

      “You put the time in and you can gain a lot,” said Jones, who was part of that 2000 team which came within one win of the Stanley Cup Final. “I do think we’ve had progress from our draft picks from last season, including (defenseman) Oliver Bonk, who had a great playoffs in London (Ontario). I’m very excited about what he’s going to bring to the table.”

      When all is said and done, there’s the task of restoring pride in the Flyers’ name and iconic logo. The young players will have a big say in that.

      “When you play for the Philadelphia Flyers, I know what that feels like,” Jones said. “The fans got a sense of what our team is all about and supported them throughout the season. Attendance was getting better, the building was much more exciting than it had been over the past few years. We want to continue to build on that feeling.”

      That appreciation for a strong work ethic goes back nearly 60 years on the ice surfaces in Philadelphia.

      “You do that (restoring pride) by playing well,” Jones continued. “By, in some cases, overachieving. Playing with a chip on your shoulder, making sure that you’re out there and trying to continue to push this forward and making sure you’re a part of it when we turn the corner.”

      Jones spent the better part of two decades analyzing pro hockey on various national television networks and now he gets to apply some of that knowledge to his personnel in Philadelphia, which has become his hometown.

      Asked to define what his job is, Jones wasted no time coming up with an answer.

      “Helping Danny (general manager Daniel Briere) any way I can,” Jones said. “That’s the No. 1 priority for my job. And that’s balancing things through (CEO/governor) Dan (Hilferty) on the business side of what we’re doing and making sure I’m here for him (Briere) in any way possible to facilitate anything I can for him. It’s worked really well. It’s a partnership. I’m not his boss. The two of us work extremely well together.

      “We were friends before. And better friends now than ever. That speaks to the relationship that we have. There is no ego involved with either of us. We both work extremely hard to do whatever we can for our fan base to make our team as good as we can make it.”

      Both Jones and Briere were unselfish players who always worked to make others around them better. That spirit carries over into their management roles.

      “It’s not about any one individual, it’s about the Philadelphia Flyers,” Jones said. “And we’re going to continue to do that. I have great confidence in him (Briere). He’s a very good negotiator. He’s tough. The competitive edge that he played with that we saw in many playoff games was for the Flyers.

      “That really represents what he stands for. Our team is in good hands with him as the general manager.”

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About Wayne Fish 2452 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.