The 2023 offseason is officially underway for the Philadelphia Flyers. Even though we’re still very much in the dead zone when it comes to news and actual changes, interim GM Danny Briere has been busy planting seeds for his vision for his club during the summer.
He has been unafraid to use the word “rebuild” over and over again every time he is asked about his planned action for his first offseason at the helm of the Flyers. Naturally, there has been quite a bit of skepticism when it comes to believing anything that comes from anybody within the Flyers organization these days, but there are only a few outcomes for Briere and his rebuild this summer.
1) Briere claims a rebuild so he can waste time without consequences like Ron Hextall
Unfortunately this feels like the most likely outcome, and it’s not directly any fault of Briere himself. Both previous GMs have preached strong messages. Hextall ranted about a rebuild for years that ultimately never amounted to anything close to a rebuild, meanwhile Chuck Fletcher’s famous “aggressive retool” that was less aggressive than a toddler with a whiffle ball bat.
So when Briere comes out talking about a rebuild, it’s easy to chalk anything he says up to empty words that will never have a conclusion. It’s just the PTSD left behind by the previous leaders of the organization over the last decade. It’s the ultimate problem with this time of year, lots of talk months before there is any action leaves everyone antsy to see if he puts his money where his mouth is.
Though if we sit here in July and the roster is more or less the same and the summer passes without any movement on one direction or another, it will be very interesting to see how exactly the fanbase responds to being lied to once again.
2) Briere’s claiming a rebuild to limit the hopes of the fanbase for a big summer, but he’s going to attempt to deliver a blockbuster move
Keep the expectations low for the 2023 offseason, then surprise everyone with a big move out of left field that makes the team better, and if they ultimately strike out, no one’s the wiser. It’s a solid strategy that ultimately keeps him from putting his foot in his mouth if something doesn’t work out like he hopes.
There have been some rumors that Briere’s going to look to make an aggressive move at the draft, but except for this little bread crumb that popped up late last week via Darren Dreger, his messaging has been relatively straight forward and not suggestive of having an ace up his sleeve.
It would be a hell of a way to get out of the gate with the best foot forward by making some kind of notable move that would get people taking and the on-ice product gets better because of it.
Crouching tiger, hidden Briere.
3) Briere’s actually serious about a rebuild and he’s going to make moves indicative of the plan he’s been preaching
There’s something fascinating about a rookie GM taking over a once-proud franchise now in complete turmoil like the Flyers and more or less refusing to provide any immediate hope.
The simple version of his message as been “screw you fans, we’re rebuilding, it’s going to take forever, don’t get your hopes up.” It’s a very bold stance to take considering his overall lack of experience and the pressure from the dwindling fanbase to put a worthwhile product on the ice.
There’s been zero mincing of words or provisions of false hope that things are going to turn around quickly. Considering the Flyers took steps forward on the ice for the first time in years, the fact he’s slammed on the brakes stalling the momentum of the team by refusing to inject much hope that the slow rise will speed up next season is a bold stance.
It’s a risky move delivered with such confidence that… it may just mean he’s got a plan to actually rebuild.
Maybe he’s going to deal Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov and Kevin Hayes and Tony DeAngelo and anybody else on the roster that’s over 25 and has a shred of trade value and collect draft assets and more prospects. Ya know, things that actual rebuilding teams do.
While a full on rebuild does feel generally unnecessary given the foundation they seemingly laid this season, a lot of the key guys on this roster are already in their mid-20’s, meaning a few more years of wasted time and some of these guys could be exiting their primes by the time guys like Tyson Foerster and Cutter Gauthier are fully adjusted to the NHL. Selling high on a few main roster guys for extra assets when the team isn’t going to make the playoffs makes the most sense given where the organization is at.
As noted in the first entry, someone at the helm of the Flyers following through with the plan they’ve laid out hasn’t happened in well over a decade at this point, so there’s naturally obvious skepticism when it comes to giving Briere the benefit of the doubt, but he’s been so consistent and his message so not hopeful at all that maybe he delivers a slow, painful rebuild but they actually come out on the other side as a competitive hockey team.
There’s no doubt Briere is under the microscope. At the end of the day, whatever path it is he chooses to steer the organization down, it is critically important that he actually make moves indicative of that path. If he’s preaching a rebuild, he better rebuild. It’s the major difference between entry 1 and 3. Using the word rebuild but not doing anything al la Ron Hextall or actually following through and taking steps to properly rebuild and fans will turn on him pretty quickly, no matter how much they loved him as a player. It feels unlikely he’s going to get years of indecision like Hextall did before judgment is cast upon him from the fed up fanbase.
Does Briere live up to his word? Time will tell, but considering his message to the fans has been arrow straight, it’s possible we actually see the Flyers get rebuilt properly this time around.
By: Dan Esche (DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com