As the Philadelphia Flyers continue to rack up losses, the fans are preparing their torches and pitchforks as the patience with the organization’s direction under general manager Chuck Fletcher is at an all-time low. While firing Fletcher should be a given, the can of worms that comes afterwards is probably the only think keeping Ol’ Chucky employed.
Danny Briere, former player turned front office member, is more than likely next in line to serve as general manager of the Flyers. Unfortunately, his coronation doesn’t make the black skies and negative emotions surrounding the franchise dissipate as much as management would probably expect.
The biggest positive Danny Briere had going for him was his status as a former fan favorite player, yet the general temperature from the fans right now just don’t seem to value that aspect as much as they did a year ago. Theoretically, that bump as a playoff hero should temper reactions from the fans when he makes a contentious decision or two. It worked very well for Ron Hextall during most of his tenure as GM. Though the state of the team really limits Briere’s good grace reserves, and the longer Fletcher hangs around and poisons the organization with Briere serving as his right hand man, the questions about just how deep that hand is in the cookie jar are bubbling up.
It doesn’t help that nobody from the Flyers’ front office ever faces the media. Fletcher gets pelted maybe a handful of times a year, Dave Scott maybe once or twice, and Briere hasn’t fielded questions since the entry draft. The cloak of mystery has allowed the fan’s imaginations to run wild as they search out the guilty party most responsible for the deterioration of the organization.
Given the shadowy construction of the work ladder in the Flyers’ front office, it really does beg the question of what exactly Briere’s responsibilities are? His role as a “special assistant to the GM” doesn’t exactly paint a vivid description of his duties. It’s a problem that isn’t exclusive to Briere, however, with the statuses of guys like Dean Lombardi or Paul Holmgren also unknown when it comes to day-to-day responsibilities.
Briere seems to be working in a scouting/development role, often spotted at Phantoms games as well as various collegiate and junior-level contests. He seemed to be the man running the show at the 2022 NHL draft as well, working alongside Brent Flahr and taking on the responsibility of handling the media as well.
Right now, there’s a good chance he’s just acting as a sponge, sucking up as much knowledge from every wing of the organization he can before he’s called up to the real GM role. Which is the responsible, right thing to do, especially when you’re as green as Briere to a very demanding position.
But it begs the question- how involved has he been in the questionable decision making that has gone on over the last eight to twelve months? The Ristolainen extension, the decision to pass on Johnny Gaudreau and Alex DeBrincat, committing to Nic Deslauriers long-term, the Sanheim extension, and beyond.
Was he in favor of making those questionable moves? Was he against them? Was he overruled by Fletcher on certain decisions? Did he just hang around in the background going unconsulted to begin with?
The answers to those questions are incredibly important when it comes to believing or not believing in Briere when he steps into the general manager role. If he was against making some of the dumb decisions that the organization has and he was overruled by Fletcher, there’s hope for change. If he’s fully on board with this disaster, his transition will be a lateral move at best.
Maybe he’ll surprise once he’s given the reins, but there’s a major snag, and that’s the franchise potentially retaining Chuck Fletcher as President. If Fletcher sticks around and Briere is still technically working under him, it sure stomps out whatever was left of the little confidence Briere naturally would’ve had from the fans.
There’s a good chance Briere is the next general manager of the Flyers, but given the turmoil the franchise finds itself in, one has to wonder if he’s up to the task. But outside of “we liked him as a player 15 years ago,” a card that is already fading, he really doesn’t have much going for him when it comes to providing the level of hope the organization needs as far as a proven track record goes. And if Chuck Fletcher’s fat little fingers remain on the organization somehow even after he’s no longer general manager, Briere could be set up to fail out of the gate regardless of his personal ability.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com