In case you’ve been living under a rock, things are kind of tense around the Philadelphia Flyers these days. After a few terrible seasons and very little overall change, the external pressure on Chuck Fletcher has boiled over and his odds-on replacement is already a member of the front office in Danny Briere. Though as “rock bottom” just continues to get lower and lower, never actually reaching the end of the abyss, does Briere inspire the confidence as a man tasked with saving the Philadelphia Flyers?
Briere retired from hockey in 2015 and returned to the Flyers organization to work in the front office. He was primarily seen shadowing then-President Paul Holmgren until he was named GM of the Maine Mariners of the ECHL in 2017. He was promoted back to the Flyers’ front office in 2022 after the Montreal Canadiens sniffed around for his services in their own search for a new GM earlier that year.
His current role is a bit of an undefined title. Special Assistant to the GM is rather vague. He’s been seen scouting games, regularly takes in contests featuring the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, has kept a close eye on Cutter Gauthier and was the face of the franchise at last year’s draft. There’s a chance he’s absorbing as many aspects of the job he can before he’s given the keys to the castle, but even though he’s often seen away from the rest of the front office, he’s more than likely not as innocent as most want to believe.
The thing is, he’s not being shutout of the decision making process. Every disaster that has befell the organization over the last year has happened under Briere’s watch, even if he’s not the one directly making the final call. The Ristolainen extension, the Sanheim extension, the Deslauriers contract, the Tony DeAngelo trade, the decision to not pursue Johnny Gaudreau, he was there for all of it.
Though at this point, fans are just looking for anyone not named Chuck Fletcher at the helm. It’s a low bar, and hard to believe that’s the only request, but it’s a testament to just how far the organization has fallen and how little trust Chuck Fletcher has from the fans.
The biggest chip Briere has going for him is the fact that he’s, in fact, Danny Briere, arguably the biggest fan favorite player over the last 15 years of the organization’s history despite the fact he hasn’t played for the orange and black since April of 2013.
It’s a gimmick that worked well for Ron Hextall who was allowed to run amok for years before fans ever started to question him simply because he was a fan favorite once upon a time. And considering the current front office seems intent to screw over the fans at every opportunity, putting a friendly face such as Briere on the product instead of Chuck Fletcher’s scowling mug would allow the rest of the front office to continue whatever it is they’re doing without such a public backlash simply because they like Briere.
Realistically, if Briere was named GM today, he’s still have some name value from the fans who have fond memories of his on-ice heroics over a decade ago. Though the longer and longer they wait to coronate him, the less and less benefit of the doubt he has. The bigger the mess Chuck Fletcher creates, the longer he remains GM, the bigger the challenge Briere will have to undo it. And if Fletcher remains as President upon Briere’s promotion (which still feels like the most likely outcome), they’re sabotaging him right out of the gate.
The Flyers desperately need someone to come in and save the front office and Danny Briere sure seems poised to be the next man up whether it’s the right call or not. Does he do a good job? It’s possible, but he may also already be too far gone as a member of the front office that has driven the Flyers to irrelevancy. Hopefully, the Flyers remove Fletcher from the organization entirely because whether it’s Briere or someone else that eventually takes over, nobody will have any success as long as ol’ Chucky Two Trades is still employed.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com