In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Flyers made some front office changes officially official late last week as Danny Briere was coronated GM and Keith Jones is now President of Hockey Ops. While it’s been expected for years that Briere would one day end up as the next general manager, Keith Jones being named President is a baffling conclusion to a search that was filled with unappealing rumored candidates.
The immediate reaction from myself was pure bewilderment. But after a weekend to chew on the new direction of the franchise… sorry… the New Era of Orange… the frustration has cooled slightly but the mystification of how they got to this state in the first place hasn’t gone anywhere.
The Friday morning press conference basically confirmed what we already expected- They got the job because they’re both former Flyers, and who can restore the team to their former glory better than two guys where played here when it was still a fun hockey team? Jones himself basically said he wouldn’t have thrown his hat in the ring for a similar position on a different team. He wanted to be the one to lead the Flyers back to glory.
Admittedly, it’s a level of homerism that is hard to not want to rally around. It would be a great story if these two do indeed turn this around and would bring more satisfaction than some outsider doing the same thing.
But, the “They’re Former Flyers” aspect is the only palpable trait either have to draw off right now. Ignore the fact that from a résumé perspective both are also taking their first NHL front office roles, they’re going to bring the winds of change through sheer passion for the team!
It’s an interesting option because it does feel like it could work. They have far more skin in the game to right the ship than hiring Outsider X would probably bring, despite the fact that an outsider may have far more experience and success when it comes to rebuilding a hockey team.
Plus, if it can get the fans to ignore the otherwise very glaring, very real questions about their capabilities as first-time leaders, it’s a smart hire from the front office, considering just a few short months ago moral was at an all-time low.
Danny Briere has been in the front office for just over a year now riding shotgun to Chuck Fletcher who, if you remember, had made quite a few very dumb moves over the twelve months. Briere was not taped to a chair in the background while Fletcher signed Travis Sanheim or acquired Tony DeAngelo or failed to move James Van Riemsdyk. Hell, the first move of substance that happened during Briere’s stint as special assistant to the GM was the Ristolainen contract extension, signed just a month after Briere’s promotion.
As the guy who is basically the crux of the front office moving forward, what little experience he does have within an NHL front office isn’t exactly overwhelming positive.
The biggest red flag about the entire takeaway of the hirings is the organization’s use of the word “patience.” It popped up when Briere was first named interim a few months and was used again by Hilferty on Friday.
A former Flyer coming in and coasting on his reputation as a beloved player demanding unquestioned patience and if you just believe in him, some unnamed time down the line things will magically fall into place.
It’s where the rally cry of being a former Flyer mixed with the nonexistent experience personally comes to a head and the entire path forward is cloaked in suspicion. Demanding patience before a single move is made is just riddled with Hextall PTSD and it’s where this version of the front office is going to have to prove they’re different.
They need to pick a path through their actions. If they’re actually intent on rebuilding, then makes moves that indicate a rebuild. If this offseason comes and goes and there’s still very much a one-foot-in-one-foot-out approach going on, blind trust isn’t going to fly. But if there’s rebuilding moves made that reciprocate the demanding of patience, then that patience will be earned
At the end of the day, their actions during the offseason needs to mirror their strong words. You wash my back, I’ll wash yours. Trust and patience can only be sewn if they’re first planted. There’s cautious optimism that his arrangement could work. But the inexperience at a tumultuous time is hard to ignore. There’s some comfort in their former Flyer status, but the fact that neither have done their new jobs before outweighs the pep rally of familiarity they bring with them.
Did the Flyers make the right hirings? Guess we’ll just have to wait and find out, but we’ll have a much clearer image of their vision in just a few month’s time when the draft and free agency roll around.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com