To the surprise of no one, Flyers Land is divided over the hiring of Keith Jones as the new President of Hockey Operations and the removal of the interim tag for General Manger Danny Briere. Given the recent string of failure from the Hextall Era through the Fletcher Era, it is fair for fans to be skeptical of this “New Era of Orange.”
Though it may seem like a marketing gimmick, this new era of Flyers hockey deserves a chance to begin before fans crush it. Not many in the Flyers organization deserve the benefit of the doubt, but let’s at least give Briere one summer before determining his hiring a failure. Sure, the hiring of former Flyers yet again does not inspire the most confidence as there are more qualified candidates out in the hockey universe, but there are many silver linings to a Jones-Briere tandem in the front office.
Their Love For Philly
There is no doubt that for decades, playing for the Philadelphia Flyers was something that prospective free agents coveted. This is something that Daniel Briere experienced firsthand as a free agent in 2007. Coming off a 95 point campaign with the Sabres, he likely could have gone anywhere he pleased. In a time where Flyers hockey was trending downward, he chose to inject his skill and youthfulness to a new-look Flyers roster. From that point forward, Briere made his mark on the city of brotherly love, earning his nickname of “Mr. Playoffs.”
Philadelphia is no longer a free agent hotspot so to speak, as mediocrity has plagued the team for nearly a decade now. However, Briere was a part of that last real competitive group that was such an attraction to the league. It may sound corny, but he knows what it is to be a Flyer and he understands that lackluster hockey is not on brand. Having limited front office experience with the ECHL’s Maine Mariners and some exposure to that work on a smaller scale with Chuck Fletcher in Philadelphia, he has a tall task in front of him to make Broad Street a hockey haven once again.
For Keith Jones, he said himself that there was no other team he would have considered working for in a front office capacity. After a successful NHL career, he decided that Philadelphia was his home. For nearly two decades, Jones served as a broadcaster for the Flyers and more recently had exposure to the national spotlight with TNT. There is no doubt that over his illustrious television career, Keith has developed relationships throughout the league that will be ever so helpful for a rookie GM in Briere.
With about 500 games played in a Flyers uniform between the two, there is no doubt that these new front office hires understand the city of Philadelphia, and more so what it means to play for that winged crest. They could have chosen to do anything in their post playing careers and they both chose to continue their work for the Flyers. They may be green when it comes to NHL front offices, but they bleed orange.
Communication is Key?
A major theme of the introductory press conference for Jones and Briere was communication. Echoed by Val Camillo and Dan Hilferty, it is clear that the previous regime lacked this skill across the board. Perhaps hiring someone to serve as both General Manager and President of Hockey Operations wasn’t such a great idea, huh? I, for one, am shocked.
Look no further than to the debacle of Ivan Provorov stealing the spotlight on Pride Night to see just how poor the organization has been with internal communication. Rumors spilled all over last season that communication between the hockey and business side of things was almost nonexistent, and this was especially true on this issue. Had the business side of things known what Provorov was going to do on Pride Night, surely they would have crafted some sort of earlier onset damage control to prevent national backlash. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case, and Provorov has emboldened many around the league to show their true selves.
With a Comcast-polished business grad in Danny Briere and a former TV analyst in Jones, communication should be a strong suit for the new front office duo. With a newly found separation of powers that did not exist in the time of Fletcher, the team will finally have a go-between buffer that can relay info between the hockey and business sides of the organization.
No More “Evaluation Periods”
A personal fear of mine with bringing entirely new blood into the front office was the excuse of needing another evaluation period. Whether it be a mass of injuries that has reshaped the roster, the revolving door of coaches, or merely Chuck Fletcher’s incompetence, it seems the Flyers have been in a limbo period of “trying to figure out what we have” for years now. In my opinion, the new front office has no excuse for another season of evaluations, and no more time can be wasted.
Sure, major pieces in Couturier, Atkinson, and Farabee have dealt with serious injury, but both Briere and Jones should know exactly what they have at the NHL level. Briere has been a part of the organization for years now, and has overseen the roster by Fletcher’s side and has even worked with younger players like Morgan Frost to develop their on-ice skills. Jones undoubtedly knows what the Flyers have as well. Having been part of the Flyers nightly broadcast for years, he has spent an unfathomable amount of hours watching Flyers hockey. As he has been able to cover national games where skill and speed are apparent in most teams, he should know which elements of the Flyers roster need completely overhauled.
It’s a Rebuild, Charlie
Since the firing of Chuck Fletcher, Briere and Co. have not been afraid to use the word rebuild. As a matter of fact, it seems that a rebuild has been the emphasis of what the Flyers are planning. With John Tortorella in lockstep with Briere, saying that there needs to be subtractions to this team before there can be additions, there is no time like this summer to right the ship.
Players like Kevin Hayes and Ivan Provorov have been circulating the trade rumor mills, and rightfully so. Both have become disgruntled with the team, have overstayed their welcome, and are no-brainer trade chips. Travis Konecny is a fan-favorite who is coming off his most productive season, so it may be time to capitalize off his higher than ever trade value. The options are plenty, but to rebuild properly, this team needs to liquidate a significant portion of their roster to acquire draft capital and begin anew. To truly begin a New Era of Orange, this should be the case. Finally, after years of “retooling” and “we like what we have”, the Flyers have a direction.
They’re Not Chuck Fletcher!
This may seem like an obvious pro of the Jones-Briere front office, but it is not one to be overlooked. Fletcher’s run as GM of the Flyers was without a doubt the least successful and most embarrassing era of Flyers hockey. It can only get better from here, right?
By: Jacob Hollamby (@Jaqueezy28)
Photo Credit: NHL.com