Danny Briere: Flyers’ Interim GM Says ‘Rebuild,’ Welcomes the Challenge
Danny Briere is excited for the challenge, excited to put his imprint on the Philadelphia Flyers, excited to make the Orange and Black relevant again.
Named the Flyers’ interim general manager Friday after Chuck Fletcher was fired, Briere knows his work is cut out for him.
He inherits a team that has many players not performing up to their big contracts. Briere knows changes need to be made, that more talent needs to be added.
The former Flyers star thinks he can be the right fit.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that I can do the job,” Briere said in a Zoom call Sunday morning, his first public comments since he replaced Fletcher. “And I’m going to have some great people around me as well. It’s not something I’m going to do alone. I was never a player that worked alone. I always believed in a team-first mentality, and it’s going to be the same approach on this side. I love working with people.”
Unlike his predecessor, Briere is not shy about using the r-word.
‘Not a fire sale’
“I believe it’s needed,” he said, “but I want to make clear that rebuild doesn’t mean fire sale — and there’s a big difference between the two.”
Briere, 45, added that the rebuild “needs to be done the right way,” and that “we’re going to look at every possible option that’s out there to improve the team.”
Dave Scott, chairman of the Philadelphia Flyers’ parent company, Comcast Spectacor, and Fletcher talked about an aggressive retool. Now, based on Scott’s comments he made after Fletcher was fired, he seems to realize a long rebuild needs to take place.
“There’s no doubt this is not a quick fix, in my mind,” Briere said. “I believe It’s going to take a little while. But at the same time, it doesn’t mean that we’re going to do a full fire sale and have a complete new team next year. There’s a lot of good players, a lot of good young players on this team.”
Briere said he considers Philadelphia home, and that he raised his grown children in the area. He and his wife also have an infant child.
“All I can say at this point is that “I want to do whatever I can to help finish the season, and help prepare the right way … hopefully for an important summer ahead of us.”
He said the excitement of being the Flyers’ GM — for the time being, on an interim basis — “is a pretty cool moment.”
Briere admitted being a general manager has been on his mind for a long time.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s something I saw myself do from early on when I was playing, and always believed that I could be in this posiiton one day,” he said.
During a nearly half-hour news conference, Briere:
- Said no player is untouchable, and that it would be a multi-year process to make the Flyers a Stanley Cup contender.
- Talked about how he loves the Flyers, loves the logo and what it represents to him. “I’ve spent a lot of days, a lot of sweat, a lot of sacrifice for this organization, so it’s a true honor to be in this position.” he said.
- Conceded he was a “little surprised” by Fletcher’s firing. He added it was “bittersweet” to see Fletcher go. He called Fletcher “a true gentlemen and one of the nicest persons in the hockey world. That (firing) side is tough; it’s also the business of hockey.”
- Thanked Fletcher and Scott for hiring him and giving him an opportunity in the organization. He worked closely with Scott with the Maine Mariners before becoming a special assistant to Fletcher a little over a year ago.
- Praised the job coach Ian Laperriere has done developing players with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
- Wasn’t sure what role seniors advisers like Paul Holmgren, Bill Barber, and Bob Clarke would have in the new front-office setup. He said he has “lots of respect” for what they have done for the Flyers, on and off the ice.
- Said he had not been given a timetable for when the Flyers would name a permanent GM and hire a president of hockey operations. He was interested in both jobs, especially the general manager position.
- Said the “expectation” was that assistant general manager Brent Flahr would again head the draft and remain here for the future. Flahr and Fletcher were also together in Minnesota.
- Had no problem with the “interim” tag. He said he sees himself remaining with the Philadelphia Flyers in some capacity. “I like that Dave and staff are going to take the proper time to see who should be full-time in that position,” Briere said. “I see myself staying here and being part of the future. I hope they believe in me as well. It feels that way.”
- Said he was looking forward to getting player evaluations from the coaches and the front-office personnel. “I have some good people around me and I want their opinion,” he said.
- Noted that the draft “will be a key opportunity. We’re going to be positioned pretty well to add a key quality player for the future of this franchise.”
- Admitted his phone “hasn’t stopped buzzing for three seconds” in the 48 hours since he was named the interim GM.
- Said during the interview process before John Tortorella was hired, “there was a lot to like (about Tortorella). I think what was really striking for me was how he was going to rebuild the culture over here. Looking at the last couple of years, it was tough to watch at times. I felt we were an easy team to play against. You don’t realize how important culture is until you lose it.”
- Revealed there were numerous coaches who were great candidates, “but in my mind, I felt John Tortorella was the perfect guy at this time to get us back on track, and I really think we’ve seen it this year.”
- Said players and executives around the league “say the Flyers are tough to face” this year. Left unsaid: The Flyers’ talent level, reduced by several injuries to key players, can’t match most opponents.
- Will have a discussion with Scott and new CEO Dan Hilferty on whether he has the authority to make additions or subtractions while the interim GM. “But I believe so. At this time, it’s not about rocking the boat. It’s more about evaluating everyone that’s in place, and evaluating our players. … I’m not looking to change anything drastically right at his moment. I’ve had this job for 48 hours, so it’s not going to happen overnight. This is going to be a long process.”
- Said he was a student of the game when he played and studied his opponents. He said he would take the same approach as a general manager. Briere said he learned a lot when Holmgren was the general manger and was able to build the Flyers from last place to a contender. He also said he learned from Joe Sakic, who rebuilt the lowly Colorado Avalanche into a champion.
Note: The r-word reference in the original headline was not meant to offend anyone. It was referring, of course, to Chuck Fletcher’s reluctance to use the word “rebuild.”