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Flyers’ Daniel Briere has Learned From Influential Role Models



From left: John Tortorella, Keith Jones, Dan Hilferty, Daniel Briere and Valerie Camillo.
From left: John Tortorella, Keith Jones, Dan Hilferty, Daniel Briere and Valerie Camillo.

Daniel Briere is navigating through his first year as Philadelphia Flyers general manager.

With a high degree of success, by most accounts.

It’s interesting to remember the criticism the Flyers faced when they hired the former player to run the team. There also was griping that Briere had little experience at running an NHL club. And with an important draft coming up, well, was he the right guy for the job?

It was a fair question.

Briere was named interim GM in March 2023. In May 2023, he was named general manager.

If fans underestimated Briere, that’s on them. As of Aug. 29, Briere is riding a wave of goodwill from fans. They’ve always liked him as a player and his stature has grown as he has settled into the corner office.

He was a hugely popular player with the Flyers. Fans appreciated his hard play and grit on the ice. He also had a knack as a playoff performer. He scored 53 goals and 63 assists (116 points) in 124 Stanley Cup playoff games.

“I can tell you from a personal point of view, watching him as a leader, as a well-organized, experienced person in the space, interim tag or not, I can tell you from the first day that we really interacted, I viewed him as the next GM of the Philadelphia Flyers,” CEO Dan Hilferty said.

Learning the Ropes

Briere had several influential role models along his management path.

“From the time I started playing, I always saw myself more in the management role than a coach.” Briere said.

“I was always more interested in how teams were being built. I probably started that when I was with Buffalo, Darcy Regier had an influence.

“Then I came here and saw how Paul Holmgren was building his team throughout my stay here. Then I went to Montreal with Marc Bergevin, followed there and we got to the conference final.

“I saw how Joe Sakic started his rebuild in Colorado. I was there early on when, probably the second year, maybe, of his rebuild, so I saw how he was doing it.

“I’ve always been studying that. That’s always an area that I was passionate about. I was not doing it expecting to be a GM one day, but that was certainly something that I hoped that one day I’d have the chance to build my own team.”

Pressure in Philly

Briere has an opportunity to put his stamp on the rebuilding Flyers. There is enormous pressure to reconstruct one of the league’s elite franchises, of course, and to do so with a demanding fan base.

But there is basically only one way to proceed — up.

The Flyers have missed the playoffs for three consecutive seasons and four of the last five. They finished seventh from the bottom of the league last season, 17 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Briere has traded and released players. He has signed free agents. He joked about being patient and not trying to sign a big-name free agent right now. Briere has a core of young forwards who have shown potential. He needs an improved defense. He knows that. Briere and team president Keith Jones dealt with an embarrassing incident in July when a member of the team’s social media staff was heard on a hot mic criticizing an Inquirer reporter on a Zoom call with a player. Briere and Jones handled that incident quickly and with transparency.

And that first draft?

That first draft might be memorable. If Matvei Michkov gets to Philadelphia from Russia and plays to his skill level, the Flyers will be well on their way to respectability and playoff contention. If Michkov doesn’t get here, or isn’t a star player … Briere will hear about it.

Such is the life of a general manager. There’s nowhere to hide in the corner office.

Keith Jones’ Influence

Briere said he has a group of people he can lean on, talk to, brainstorm with.

“There’s so many of them. People that I played with over the years, people that I played for over the years,” Briere said.

“Keith Jones, I would say, is probably at the top of the list. Jonesy has been around the league, has so many contacts that he’s been really helpful there — breaking barriers, getting in touch with different guys.

“There’s also a few GMs around the league that I’ve known really well before starting this job that have kinda taken me under their wings as well. I’ve been really fortunate with that.

“We have a lot of guys in the organization that have been ex-GMs, or have been around, that can help me in certain situations.”

Briere, Jones and coach John Tortorella are the management team tasked with rebuilding the team.

“I believe in teamwork, just like Jonesy has said,” Briere said. “Having someone of his stature come in being involved with our team — everybody that’s going to be part of it — but to add Keith there in the room, I’m ecstatic about it.

“I’m so excited just listening to his opinion over the years, having a chance to be around him with some alumni stuff that we’ve done over the years, I can’t be any happier than to have them around there.

“So, I have no worries that it’s going to work. Again, teamwork, having Torts’ point of view, his point of view.

“We’ve said it before, I don’t want people around me that are just yes-men or yes-women. It’s including everybody. I want different opinions. I want people to bring their own vision, and we’ll come up with the right answer.”

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