Briere on Rebuild: ‘Message Started with Me; I Didn’t Hide Behind It’
As of Monday afternoon, the Flyers didn’t officially have a GM. Danny Briere stepped to the podium with the interim tag still in place. But his message while speaking sure sounded like someone who will fully assume the role in the coming days.
The expectation is that Briere will be named the full-time general manager. Briere said he did not have an idea of a timeline for that to happen.
Briere’s main focus was maintaining a message that started on the day he was moved into the interim GM role. It was a message the Flyers franchise had shied away from for too long. Briere made clear that this line of message was rooted in his beliefs for the franchise.
“It started with me, with the rebuild. I didn't hide behind it. I came in, I said it,” Briere said. “Now, how fast or how long it's going to take, the players will dictate that, but everybody's on board. Everybody agrees that we need to do this the right way. [John Tortorella] has said it many times – we all agree that it needs to be done the right way, and we might need a little bit of patience from the fans, in that regard. Might be some growing pains to go through, but when you look at how some of our young players got better this year, I think that was really impressive and exciting for the future.”
As the 2022-23 season was coming to a close, Tortorella spent many games away from the bench and in further conversation with Briere. It is a relationship that will be critical to the Flyers turnaround in this rebuilding process.
“If you look at this year alone, Torts bought into what we're trying to do, and giving the chance to the young guys to play, to have more opportunities, more of a chance. The message was really clear, and he bought in, and he knows it's going to be part of it next year as well,” Briere said. “I'm not the only one making decisions, he's not the only one making decisions – we have a group of people all together looking at what is the best for the organization, not just in a moment, but moving forward into the future. So, we're all going to be involved. It's not going to be just a one-man show making all the decisions or two people making all the decisions. It's going to be a group of people.”
As somebody new in the GM chair with no prior experience at the NHL level, Briere will certainly need to show growth in the role and face some challenging decisions in doing so. Briere said he will rely on what he knows from playing in the NHL to help make those decisions and develop strong opinions.
“Obviously if I make some decisions, I need to have an opinion. My opinion comes from years of playing and looking at how organizations are being built,” Briere said. “Having the chance to have been out there, having played the game, understanding how a locker room works, the ins and outs of a locker room, are things that I'm going to try to use, but there's other areas that I'm going to need help with when it comes to scouting and analytics and stuff like that. That's where we have, I feel, a lot of good people around to help us. Everybody has strengths, and you’re trying to use everybody's strengths to the best and the benefits of the organization.”
It can be argued that the Flyers potentially had too many voices involved in key decisions over the years, which can lead to disagreements. Briere may become the GM of the team, but Tortorella has shown the amount of influence he can have on a team. What happens if the two don’t agree on a certain decision or opinion?
“We're going to fix that before the season starts, I can promise you that. We'll come to an agreement. I'm really not worried about that,” Briere said. “We'll do what's best for the team. It doesn't matter. It's not about Danny Briere, it's not about John Tortorella. What's important for the Flyers organization moving forward? That's what matters, and we'll find a way to figure out what's best for the organization.”
Briere expressed that the timeline for a rebuild is uncertain and didn’t want to put a number of years on the amount of time the process could take. What he did express was that an instant turnaround was certainly not the expectation.
“I want to make sure that's clear that I don't expect that to happen next year, but one day we certainly hope to be one of the teams that jumps into the contending teams in the league,” Briere said. “I think there's a few teams that are right on the cusp as well, and we saw this year New Jersey jump into that. I hope we're there. I don't know exactly when that's going to happen. Like I said earlier, the players are going to decide that when they're ready to take that next step.”
The next step for the Flyers front office will come after the Stanley Cup Playoffs come to an end. On May 8, the draft lottery will determine where the Flyers pick in the first round of the 2023 NHL Draft. Briere noted that in the near future, drafting will be a primary focus until the team is eventually in a position to make more significant additions through trade and free agency.
“To start, and then eventually, when we feel we're there and it's time, then we're going to look to see if we can acquire either by trades or free agency or whatever. But at the moment, I still feel that we need to figure out what we have,” Briere said. “We need to figure out which players will be part of the future, and you don't want to block them by bringing outside players at the moment. That's kind of the division. So yeah, drafting is, for me, a very important part just to start this process.”
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.
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