Comcast Spectacor CEO Dan Hilferty made news almost immediately at the Flyers’ news conference on Friday.
Hilferty said he was asked by job candidates if the Flyers will be sold. “Emphatically, no,” he said.
Hilferty then dug deeply into the process of how the Flyers promoted Danny Briere to general manager and how they hired Keith Jones to president of hockey operations.
And he addressed what everyone wanted to know: How in the heck did the Flyers hire two former players to fill top-level management jobs?
“I know what you’re thinking, hiring two former Flyers isn’t a fresh start,” Hilferty said. “Our goal was to hire the two best candidates. It just happens they were Flyers.”
Easy call on Briere
Hilferty said hiring Briere as interim general manager and removing the interim tag was an easy call.
“I got to know Danny,” Hilferty said. “I can tell you from a personal point of view, watching him as a leader, as a well-organized, experienced person … interim tag or not.
“I can tell you from the first day we interacted I viewed him as the next GM of the Philadelphia Flyers.
“Watching how him and Torts [coach John Tortorella] interacted. I felt there was no need for a process because we had our general manager.”
Hiring Jones, who was one of the team’s broadcasters, was more complicated. Hilferty said the search was far and wide. They hired an outside consulting firm and had help from former Sixers president and general manager Billy King.
“The process was an exhaustive one,” Hilferty said. “We took ideas from many sources. I won’t give you an exact number [of candidates] but the net was wide.”
The field eventually narrowed to three candidates. Each of the three went through two more interviews before Jones was hired.
With a five-person management team — Tortorella, Briere, Jones, Hilferty and Spectacor Sports and Entertainment president Valerie Camillo — there were questions about job descriptions.
Briere, Jones and Tortorella will handle the hockey business. Camillo is in charge of the business decisions and Jones will be part of that. Hilferty oversees everything.
“Keith is the leader of the team and that includes all aspects of team-building, setting a vision and also hiring and firing,” Hilferty said.
“My barometer for success will be just making sure that we continue to work as a team and that these three professionals, working with, I believe, the best leader in sports and entertainment in Valerie that we truly are moving in the right direction.”
Jones talked about his working relationship with Briere as they try to rebuild a team that has missed the playoffs three consecutive seasons.
“I have the ultimate confidence that Danny Briere is the right man for this job,” Jones said.
“I’ve had many conversations about hockey with Danny. What impresses me the most about Danny is his mind …
“We’re going to get to some real conversations here in a little while. I so look forward to getting to those conversations.
“I’ll be here for Danny Briere. Whatever he needs, whenever he needs it. I will give my opinion to Danny and Danny will make the final decision on player personnel, trades, etc. He’s going to be on the phone a lot. He’s going to be busy, no doubt.
“I’ll be here to give my opinion to Danny. I will there for him at all times.”
Tortorella on-boardTortorella, whom Hilferty called the team’s “spiritual leader” expressed excitement about his new colleagues and the expanded role he will have in building and shaping the roster. Not all head coaches have that much clout.
“Danny was the GM for me before the interim tag or not,” Tortorella said.
“Bringing on Jonesy here, and Danny just touched upon on it, is that what you have here are two strong hockey minds. And a personality, personalities, not being afraid to share their opinions in discussions.
“I think that is going to be so productive. Maybe all five of us at certain times. Sometimes, we’ll tell Dan and Valerie to get out of here, we need to talk about this.
“I think everybody has the personality to voice their opinion, not just agree on the way. I think that’s how you solve problems. I think that’s what the process is about and I’m thrilled.
“The time I spent with Danny, I’m so excited to work with him because I think he got such a great mind.
“This guy here [Jones] has followed the league in his job for years … Talking to coaches, GMs, understanding players, systems.
“That is so important to get his view. We’re going to have some arguments along the way and that’s healthy. But to know that we’re in it together, I’m thrilled.”
Hilferty said he expects the rebuild to be a “multi-year process.”
“I am promising you that we are going to get it right, together,” Jones said. “The Philadelphia Flyers are coming back.”
When you’re the Flyers and you’re the seventh-worst team in the NHL, you do something about it.
The Flyers don’t like being only the *seventh-best* team in the NHL. Their aspirations always are higher.
They believe they started on that road this week.