After Chuck Fletcher botched the Flyers’ offseason something fierce, it feels as though his days as general manager are numbered. Though parting ways with Fletcher opens up a brand new can of worms when it comes to who replaces him. It sure seems as though fan-favorite-player-turned-front-office-member Danny Briere is the next man up, but is he ready for the role?
One of the biggest positives that Briere brings to the table is his fresh eyes on the product. He’s not a member of the “old boys club” or some re-tread hire. The inexperience is concerning, but it’s also a chance to deploy a brand new way of thinking and potentially jump start a new era of Flyers hockey.
A fan favorite
It’s no secret the Flyers front office doesn’t have much good grace from the fans right now, but adding someone who was universally beloved will definitely ease some of the growing tension. His work on the job will ultimately decide how he’s received by the fans, but in the short term, it may do the organization as a whole good to make a move that is very popular with the fanbase. It worked well with Ron Hextall. It took the fanbase years before they began to question his cornball ideas.
Lack of experience at a tumultuous time
While Briere may bring fresh eyes to the product as a first-time NHL GM, that may not necessarily be the best thing. He has no official NHL front office experience other than shadowing Paul Holmgren for a few seasons. The Flyers were a once-proud organization and are still, somehow, one of the most popular team’s in the league, but they’re currently going through some of the darkest days the franchise has ever known. Whatever extreme the Flyers choose, either rebuilding or salvaging the current roster, it’s a tall task for anyone, especially when you’re new to the gig. To be fair to Briere on this one, he was in the running for a GM job with the Montreal Canadiens, one of the few markets worse than Philadelphia. If he was ready to take on that challenge, maybe he can do it here too.
Name value skewing perceptions
Briere is absolutely being groomed to be an NHL GM in the not-too-distant future, but if he wasn’t a fan favorite player, but rather just some dude with no experience, would anybody be as excited to hire the guy? If I told you John Doe with no former NHL GM experience, and very limited experience overall, is in consideration for the role, would that be as enticing a hire?
Briere was heavily considered for the general manager role for the Montreal Canadiens, who ultimately decided to go in a different direction, so Briere is still property of the Flyers organization. If there is interest in him from other NHL teams, they clearly feel he’s ready for the responsibility. It’s why the Flyers gave him the title of “special assistant to the GM” which is a vague title with unknown responsibilities. He’s shadowing Fletcher and learning the ins and outs of the biz, but he’s not an official assistant GM. According to the Flyers website, Barry Hanrahan and Brent Flahr are listed as the assistant GMs with Paul Holmgren, Bob Clarke, Bill Barber and Dean Lombardi listed as advisors. In fact, Briere isn’t listed on the staff page anywhere.
It makes you wonder what he’s actually doing here?
Ultimately, if they do indeed decide Briere is ready, it’ll be crucial for the organization to fill the front office with veteran members to guide him. They can’t do what they did with Fletcher and make him king of the castle with no one to answer to. There’s a chance Fletcher will be retained as president and Briere could take over the GM role, though if he isn’t, they need to find the best possible veteran front office person available to take the job as president to held guide the fledgling Briere.
The organization is in a bit of a time crunch here to try and right the ship, but they can’t throw Briere into such a daunting task cold like this, it’s just not fair to the guy. If Fletcher’s tenure ends sooner rather than later, one has to wonder if they look outside the organization for the next general manager. Someone tasked with sorting out the mess for the next few years as Briere is promoted to full-time assistant GM. That feels unlikely, Briere seems to be the next man up regardless of when Fletcher bites it, but is it what’s best for the franchise at this very moment? Guess time will tell.
It’ll be a tall task for anyone to fix the severely broken Flyers, but Briere has pulled some miracles out of his hat in orange and black before, maybe he can do it again, this time as general manager.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nbcsports.com