It’s been just over 48 hours since the Flyers decided to make a change in the front office with the firing of Chuck Fletcher and the installment of Danny Briere as interim GM. Briere was still processing the sequence of events that have him at the forefront of the Flyers rebuilding plan, at least for now.
“It’s a true honor to be in this role,” Briere said on Sunday morning. “I’ve been a Flyer for a big part of my career. I love the Flyers. I love the logo. I spent a lot of days, a lot of sweat, a lot of sacrifice here for this organization. It’s also the city I call home. I’ve raised my kids here. 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 and help prepare the right way and put a plan in place hopefully for an important summer ahead of us.”
Briere’s focus as of Sunday was mainly about getting past the initial reaction of the weekend’s events and starting to chart a course of action moving forward. As the interim GM, there are no certainties as part of that plan. Briere himself didn’t have any issue with the interim tag.
“I think it’s the right thing to do. I don’t have a problem with the interim tag,” Briere said. “I see myself staying here and being part of the future. I hope they believe in me as well. It feels that way. We’ll see what happens next.”
The most important questions regarding the Flyers future really begin at the very top. Briere cited Flyers Governor Dave Scott as being part of the process that will determine a timeline for the roles of GM and President of Hockey Operations being filled permanently and his own status in the “multi-year process” that the Flyers are about to enter. In addition to Scott, Briere also mentioned newly hired Comcast-Spectacor CEO Dan Hilferty, who could have an increased role around the Flyers in the future.
In addition, Briere was not going to express certainty over any particular role at this time. While Briere did express that he expects assistant GM Brent Flahr to remain with the team in the future and praised Lehigh Valley Phantoms head coach Ian Laperriere, he acknowledged that everything is up for evaluation.
That includes the group of senior advisors, notably Bobby Clarke, Paul Holmgren, and Bill Barber, and what their involvement will be. Briere didn’t know what their involvement would be moving forward.
“I don’t know at this point. What I can tell you is I have a lot of respect for those guys for what they’ve accomplished in their career both on and off the ice. I’ve been in this position for 48 hours. We’ll see moving forward what happens there.”
Most importantly, the Flyers need to acknowledge that the entire organization is on board with the proper path ahead in rebuilding the Flyers. Briere made clear that he agrees with the assessment of a multi-year process.
“That’s my belief. It needs to be done the right way,” Briere said. “I think that’s what’s needed, that’s what’s going to be important moving forward, not rushing to things. We’re going to keep evaluating players. We’ll have a lot of discussions in 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.”
Briere also cited the learning experience of coming up through the ranks. In addition to his work with the Maine Mariners and getting acclimated to all sides of hockey operations and business operations for a franchise, Briere noted that he has always been a close observer of these aspects even as a player. He cited how Paul Holmgren took the Flyers from a last-place team to back into contention in the year that Briere arrived in Philadelphia in the 2007-08 season, but also mentioned his observations of Marc Bergevin in Montreal and Joe Sakic in Colorado in the last two stops of his playing career.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that I can do the job. I’m going to have some great people around me as well. I was never a player that worked alone. I always believed in team-mentality first and it’s going to be the same approach on this side.
Even when I played, I was always someone who studied my opponents, also studied my GMs and what they were doing and what other GMs were doing. I probably started doing that a little deeper when I got to Buffalo the way Darcy Regier built a young team that went to back-to-back conference finals. I came here, learned a lot under Paul Holmgren. I went to Montreal with Marc Bergevin where he also had to rebuild the character of his team. And Joe Sakic in Colorado. I got there early in the process when that rebuild was being made. I’d like to think that I was able to help some of the young guys, but I also saw how things were being built at that time.”
Further changes are definitive coming to the Flyers in some way. Whether that is strictly on the ice or if the Flyers take the steps to follow through with a full front-office rebuild, Briere said that the remainder of the season is about evaluation and going from there within the process.
“At this time, it’s not about rocking the boat. It’s more about evaluating everybody that’s in place and evaluating our players and finishing the season strong and being a help to players and staff and everybody around me,” Briere said. “I’m not looking to change anything drastically right at this moment. It’s not going to happen overnight. This is going to be a long process.
“I believe it’s needed. We have to be careful. Rebuild doesn’t mean fire sale and there’s a big difference between the two. We’re not going to get rid of everybody. We have some good players here, some players in certain roles that we’re going to keep as well. We’re going to look at every possible option out there to improve the team. I don’t think this is a quick fix, that’s my belief and that’s why I’m not afraid to use the word rebuild.”