Danny Briere, the Philadelphia Flyers’ new general manager, talked to the media Tuesday about a variety of subjects, including the expectations of the youngsters, Travis Sanheim’s progression, and the difficult decision to demote Wade Allison.
Here are some of his comments as the Flyers prepare for their season opener Thursday in Columbus:
On the return of Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson, who both missed last season with injuries:
“I felt like they started slow. They got better as the camp went on. They haven’t played in a long time. In Sean’s case, he hasn’t played in two years almost. It’s going to take time. I was excited in both cases to see them compete, go hard. . .in battles, not be afraid. I felt maybe the first few steps, they played it safe a little bit. Once the first hits happened, I thought both reacted well as the confidence grew.”
On rookie wingers Bobby Brink and Tyson Foerster:
“To be honest, they both played well. They earned their spot in training camp. Bobby, we didn’t expect him to be as good as he was. He’s been probably our best forward in training camp. He totally earned that. As far as Tyson, we had the expectation that he would start with us. His play was solid. I know he wasn’t on the scoresheet as much as Bobby, but the details in his game, we all like. Coaches were on board (that) he’s someone you can rely on. We’ll evaluate and make sure they get the proper ice time. We can always adjust. If somebody’s play dips, these guys don’t need waivers. We’ll evaluate as we go along.”
On whether Brink and Foerster might play at the same time:
“I think early on, it’s a respectful thing for the opener (to) treat the veterans right. But then their play will dictate who plays. Torts is not afraid of someone; if someone is not performing, he’s not going to hold back. We’ve seen it with Bobby Brink. We didn’t think he was going to be as good as he’s been. He’s earned his way. Torts is using him more and more. That’s going to be the same rules moving forward.”
On the plans for young defensemen Emil Andrae and Egor Zamula:
“Again, that’s something early on for the opener, Torts might lean a little bit more due to respect for the veterans. After that, it’s going to be their play. Both of them have been excellent with their play. Earned the right to be here … to start the season. It’s going to be the same thing with Bobby and Tyson . .we’re going to make sure they get the proper ice time. If they can’t find it here, we’ll find a way to get them on the ice.”
On the competition during the Philadelphia Flyers’ training camp:
“There were some tough decisions. Putting Wade Allison on waivers wasn’t an easy one. It’s not that Wade had a bad training camp. The young guys just had a better camp. There were opportunities and some of the young guys seized them,
forced us to make some tough decisions. Wade, Tanner (Laczynski) still have a chance. It gives us the option of bringing them back if there’s a dip in play here with some of the guys. It worked out well, to retain both contracts.”
On the play of the veterans in camp:
“(Travis) Sanheim is the one that really stood out to me. Really impressed with his fitness, his mindset coming into camp. It feels like he’s got something to prove. That’s been probably the most exciting thing for me, watching Travis. I thought Z (Zamula) was good, coming back (from shoulder surgery). He couldn’t play games early in camp. I thought he performed well.
On Sanheim trade rumors during the offseason:
“I was honest with him. Our job is to listen. It’s the right thing for the organization. But at the same time we’re excited for the future. We signed him to a long-term contract because we believed in him. I also challenged him and he responded. Fitness-wise, he was one of the best” in camp.
On Andrae’s development:
“He and Bobby Brink made some plays, made some mistakes. But they didn’t play it safe. For us, that’s the best part when you see a player try to figure out what the limits are and what they can get away with. What you can and can’t do. I’m not promising they’re going to be here all season, but they deserve to start the season because of their aggressiveness. The way they competed, made plays. We want to see more of that.”
On Joel Farabee being a year removed from neck surgery:
“Little unfair last year to evaluate him because he wasn’t in position to compete at the top level because of the injury. He couldn’t train fully. He knows it’s a big season. Lots of expectation on him. He’s one of those guys, there’s more responsibility on his shoulders, leadership-wise. Losing JVR (James van Riemsdyk) and (Kevin) Hayes in the room, I talked to him about accepting more responsibility.”