Now that Chuck Fletcher’s been removed from the Flyers’ front office and former fan favorite Danny Briere has been named interim GM, it has blossomed hope anew that the organization may finally be on a different path. Though the momentary feeling of relief the change has brought is about to be pushed to the limits right out of the gate during the new front office’s performance during the highly critical 2023 offseason.
The 2022-23 season was the first time in years that the Flyers had positive developments, and it’s immediately met with Danny Briere talking about a rebuild and patience. Admittedly, there is still a bit of growing that needs to be done before the current roster can be considered contenders, but why try and stomp out any positives when they’ve been so hard to come by?
Briere freely using the word rebuild has been a welcome change of pace, but it’s important that he doesn’t rest on his laurels. Most fans are placated at the usage of a term, but it’s about executing that plan, following through with the empty words he spouts.
At his end of season press conference on Monday, he says he doesn’t want to block roster spots from the kids (talking about free agent signings), but just moments earlier said he fully intends to smooth things over with disgruntled defenseman Tony DeAngelo and expects him back next season… At the expense of blocking RHD prospect Ronnie Attard.
Finding a plan and sticking to it hasn’t exactly been a strong suit of the organization over the last decade. Ron Hextall’s version of a rebuild wasn’t so much a rebuild as it was a complete waste of time, while Chuck Fletcher used the term “aggressive retool” last summer, a strategy that was so aggressive they didn’t make a single move of substance other than giving up a cocktail of draft picks for Tony DeAngelo.
Briere can’t use the term “rebuild” then continue the same listless direction the franchise has been on for years. He needs to make his mark on the club and put them on a new path.
It’s where his messaging has diverted paths. He, as well as John Tortorella, have both talked about the process taking a long time in the name of “doing it the right way” but it also feels wrong to not only put the brakes on a team that actually took positive steps forward this season, but it’s a real gut punch for a fanbase that has already been pushed to the brink over the last decade of mediocrity.
Essentially, it’s a built-in excuse for remaining hands-off on the product. It was the key to Ron Hextall’s time as GM. Promise success, but keep the timeline to stupidly far away in the future the short-term negligence doesn’t register. When fans still talk about Hextall having a plan and “not getting to see it through” it’s the origin of that idea. He got fired before his master plan fell into place because he was working on a 10+ year timeline.
But if the idea is to go down the path of a legitimate rebuild that’s going to take forever, right or wrong, then they better be making moves to back that plan up. Trade the veterans on the roster that possess any value and garner picks and prospects to actually lay a foundation to properly rebuild upon. Briere calling for a rebuild then running it back with the same exact roster for another year isn’t a rebuild, it’s just idiocy.
It’s hard to have any trust OR worry about things just yet until the new front office is place. It’s still unclear if Briere will take the president or GM role (though after his end of season press conference it’s pretty clear he’s more than likely the next GM) and who his new partner in crime will be. It also could depend heavily on the outcome of the draft lottery. If a miracle happens and the Flyers walk away with a top pick, you’d think it’d expedite their process.
Though at the end of the day, whatever happens with the draft, the mission needs to be clear. Pick a direction, whatever it is the choose to do, and follow it. It shouldn’t be that hard, but for this franchise, doing anything right these days would be a minor miracle.
Briere needs to distance himself from his former boss in Chuck Fletcher, and putting his stamp on the team with a big splash in whatever direction he chooses would be a good way to do that. Complacency and excuse making during the post-free agency press conference would be a real sour tone to get out of the gate on.
Briere is a disciple of Chuck Fletcher preaching the gospel of Ron Hextall and that’s a bad combo. It’s going to be an antsy few months for fans until the draft rolls around and Briere will have his first opportunity to put his money where his mouth is, but in the meantime all we can do is hope he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve to follow through with his grand scheme.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com