The Philadelphia Flyers’ Confusing Approach to the President Search

It’s been nearly three weeks since the Philadelphia Flyers 2022-23 season came to an end and the long wait until the entry draft in late June is well underway. Though there’s still some housecleaning that needs to get done before then, and the major news story to follow is the search for the next Team President of the Flyers.

There have been quite a few names thrown around as potential candidates and they range from underwhelming to flat out unappealing as the search has not followed the path many had hoped.

Brotherly Pod co-host Anthony Di Marco had this to say about the current state of the search in his recent update for The Fourth Period

Based on what I’ve heard over the last week or so, it doesn’t appear as though this will be a traditional “President of Hockey Ops” hire. As opposed to overseeing everything in the hockey decisions and having the GM (Briere) report directly to her/him, whoever the President of Hockey Ops is going to have more of a marketing role, while working closely with Camillo and Business Ops while watching and promoting the brand. The salary cap is also a big focal point the President of Hockey Ops will be tasked with looking over, as it’s believed they want it to be relegated and aren’t satisfied with how it has been handled in recent years.

If this is the case, hiring someone like Mellanby or Wilson – even though they may be the best “hockey guy” – may not be what Comcast is looking for, as both will all but certainly want to have a firmer grasp on the ultimate decision making in hockey related decisions.

That is certainly not the expected direction they’d be taking the hiring process.

On a side note, what kind of team hires a Team President who has to inherit a GM and an head coach as well as a full front office staff rather than hiring a staff of his own people? It’s completely insane how backwards this whole thing is.

Now, let’s just think back to Briere’s rise within the front office to jog everyone’s memory as to how exactly he got here in the first place. By all accounts, Danny Briere is beloved within the Flyers’ front office. Val Camillo and Dave Scott are big fans of his, and he already seemingly has the favor of Dan Hilferty as well.

With no experience as an NHL GM, you’d think he’d fit that President description rather well as the liaison between the business and hockey side and they can hire someone with a proven track record like Ray Shero to handle the day-to-day ongoings of on-ice perspective.

But nope.

They want the inexperienced Briere to be the GM and run the team almost single handedly (though John Tortorella will probably have his say in the decision making process) and hire an outside, likely questionable candidate whose job will be more business than hockey.

Why?

It does beg the question about the business side of the Flyers. Why are they so desperate to salvage a side, that at face value, isn’t hurting as much as the hockey side? The president of hockey ops’ main gig being a marketing expert instead of, ya know, an experienced hockey mind, seems horribly miscast.

One of the main stories that came up in the wake of Chuck Fletcher was that the fracture within the front office was rather large. There was minimal communication between the sides and it reached a boiling point when the business side was not alerted to Ivan Provorov sitting out warmups during pride night. It feels like they’re ultimately trying to mend those bridges internally, but going about it in a completely backwards way.

There’s a difference between sports management and other corporate industries. Mike Aceto from Brotherly Pod’s Frequent Flyer summed it up perfectly-

in other areas, when new executives come in, one important aspect normally is to maintain a lot of what worked from prior regimes as there likely was reason the company was successful to a certain limit. Issue is in sports team building, it doesn’t work like that. Teams are either good and win/compete a ton, or they’re bad and lose. Not much of a middle ground when there’s only one winner in each league each year. So, in sports, when regime change happens, it’s usually full on, the slate is wiped clean. It has to be – you can’t be like “oh, well, we built 1/8 of a decent team, so 98% of the people involved in that should stay.” This is exacerbated by the people like Dave Scott who has no background in sports management whatsoever. And not Hilferty – although I do think Hilferty will ultimately be better and has said some of the right things. However fact remains – zero background in sports management and therefore will have difficulty distinguishing the Flyers from his part corporate pursuits.

Fixing the on-ice product through a roster overhaul is the best way to generate business for a team that hasn’t had a worthwhile product in nearly a decade. No need to big-brain the hiring process when it will just hurt them more in the long run.

“Build it and they will come” was apparently a lesson they didn’t teach in business school. “Attempt to fix the symptoms but ignore the cause” was seemingly a popular seminar, though.

It’s hard to not be frustrated by the developments that this search has taken. With Chuck Fletcher fired, Dave Scott retiring and the fate of the senior advisors in jeopardy, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to clean house entirely and build a front office full of qualified candidates with experience rebuilding hockey teams. And yet somehow they ended up with a first-time GM and more than likely a Team President who doesn’t have any of the qualifications to head a hockey team, which is fine because apparently the President of Hockey Ops won’t have a say in Hockey Ops anyway.

Leave it to the Philadelphia Flyers to royally screw up a process that should be so simple, but it’s probably our fault for expecting the team to just magically pull their heads out of their asses despite all evidence to the contrary. Hopefully someone comes to their senses and reconsiders their approach before any official hirings are made, otherwise the next era of Flyers hockey is going to look suspiciously familiar to the last one.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

photo credit: Inquirier.com

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s