Quick Hits: March 13, 2023
1) Danny Briere held has first press conference as the Flyers' interim general manager on Sunday morning. A full transcript follows below. A "five takeways" article, summarizing the main points during the session will run today on PhiladelphiaFlyers.com.
2) The Flyers return to practice at 11 a.m. EDT Monday at the FTC in Voorhees. Over the rest of the week, the schedule is as follows:
Tue: Game vs. Vegas Golden Knights at Wells Fargo Center (7:00 p.m. EDT)
Wed: Day Off
Thue: Practice at FTC (11:00 a.m. FTC)
Fri: Game vs Buffalo Sabres at Wells Fargo Center (7:00 p.m. EDT)
Sat: Game vs. Carolina Hurricanes at Wells Fargo Center (5 p.m. EDT)
Sun: Day Off
Mon: Practice at FTC (11:00 a.m. FTC)
3) Flyers Daily: In the weekly Mondays with Meltzer edition of Flyers Daily, Jason Myrtetus and I discuss the fallout from Danny Briere being named interim GM, the implications of Briere giving an endorsement for Brent Flahr to stay on as assistant GM, what a "rebuild that's not a fire sale" might look like, and more. To listen to the podcast, click here
4) The Flyers returned Tyson Foerster and Elliot Desnoyers to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Sunday. They had been on emergency recall to the NHL club while Wade Allison and Brendan Lemieux were sidelined with respective day-to-day injuries.
4) Phantoms Update: The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (31-22-6) won their fifth straight game with a 5-2 victory over the Utica Comets at the PPL Center on Sunday. Young goalie Nolan Maier stepped up to deliver a 27-save performance in net. After a scoreless first period, goals by Foerster (19th) and Desnoyers (team-leading 21st) established a 2-0 lead for the Phantoms. In third period, Utica twice drew back within one goal but the Phantoms pulled away late. Garrett Wilson (PPG, 12th), Max Willman (ENG, 9th) and Cooper Marody (ENG, 12th) scored.
The scorching hot Marody, who had a two-point game (1g, 1a) on Sunday, has racked up six goals, four assists and 10 points in the team's last four games. He is a top candidate for AHL Player of the Week honors. Adam Brooks, Olle Lycksell and Egor Zamula chipped in an assist apiece against the Comets.
5) Flyers assistant coach Brad Shaw, a longtime friend and former teammate of Flyers Warriors head coach Brad Marsh, was a special guest instructor at the Flyers Warriors' practice on Sunday morning.
Briere Transcript: March 12, 2023, Press Conference
Hi everyone, Danny Briere here. First of all, I want to start by thanking Dave Scott for trusting me and giving me this opportunity. I had the chance to work with Dave closely with the Mariners when I started my career, my second career after stepping off the ice and then in the last couple of years too with the Flyers. I want to thank Chuck Fletcher as well for the chance, the opportunity of including me on the staff in the past season. It is a true honor to be in this role. I've been a Flyer for a big part of my career. I love the Flyers. I love the logo. I spent a lot of days, a lot of sweat, a lot of sacrifice here for this organization. It's a true honor to be in this position. It's also the city I call home. I've raised my kids here; that's what they consider their home. I'm very proud to be here, to live here, and to be part of this. 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. Put a plan in place hopefully for an important summer ahead of us.
Over the last couple of days, how have you navigated the emotions of Chuck getting fired, someone you work with closely, and earning the interim role?
It's been a little bittersweet, to be honest. I have so much respect for Chuck Fletcher. Anybody that has had the chance to work with him and under him the last few years will tell you, he is true gentleman. One of the nicest person in the hockey world. You know that side is tough. It's also the business of hockey. That's what we're in. I have a lot of respect for Chuck and I, again, thank him for giving me the opportunity. Then on the flip side, it's the excitement of being here, of representing the Flyers as Interim GM. It's a pretty cool moment. It's something that I'm extremely proud of. To be honest with you, it's something that will stay with me for a long, long time. This emotion of having that title is pretty special, to be honest.
With regards to the Flyers roster as a whole, over the last few weeks, John Tortorella and Chuck mentioned the importance of taking this slow and doing this the right way. In his comments about Chuck being removed, Dave Scott knew this is going to be a multiyear process. Obviously, you're the Interim GM. You're not the full time GM as of yet. Do you agree that fixing this and getting the Flyers on the right path is a multiyear process?
Yes, I do. That's my belief. It needs to be done the right way. At this point, I think that's what's needed. That's what's going to be important moving forward and not rushing to things. We're going to keep evaluating players. We’ll have a lot of discussions in which direction we're going to move, but there's no doubt that this is not a quick fix in my mind. 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. There's a lot of good young players on this team. We've definitely gone on the younger side and I think it shows at times. It showed this year and it's going to show until the end of the year. We're a younger team. We maybe lack a little bit of experience. I think it's the right way to go at this time.
When we were talking to John Tortorella yesterday, he said that you have some pretty strong opinions about where you think this organization needs to go. What are some of the strong beliefs that you have and that you're able to do as you move forward here?
Well, I'm not going to get into player’s names and stuff like that at this point. I think it's a little too early for that. I have my own way of seeing things, obviously. I have my own opinions. I'm not gonna lie about that. Everybody sees things their own way differently and I do as well. I'm really looking forward to spending more time with the coaches, get their thoughts, and also our staff here on the second floor. I have some good people around me that I want their opinion and I'm going to talk to a lot of different people, moving forward, evaluating, and deciding on what the next few steps will be at this point. It's only been 48 hours. To be honest, we haven't dived really deep into any of that at this point. I'm just trying to survive those last 48 hours. My phone hasn't stopped buzzing for more than about three seconds. It was a little bit of survival mode the last couple of days.
I know you were involved in the interview process with John Tortorella when you guys were hiring this head coach. What did you like about his interview and what you've learned about him?
There was a lot to like about John. I think what really was striking for me was how he was going to rebuild the culture over here. Looking at the last couple 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. We interviewed a lot of great candidates, guys that were probably great coaches and could have done the job. In my mind, I felt John Tortorella was the perfect guy at this time to get us back on track and I really feel we've seen this. We've seen it this year. You look at not just the way we play, but talking also to players around the league, executives around the league, and they all say the same thing: The Flyers are tough to face. They might not have the most talent at this point. They might be a little inexperienced at this point. But man, it's tough to face you guys. We've heard that constantly over the year. I've been really proud of the players and our coaching staff, the way they enforce that and how tough they've made us to face the season. I think it was the right step in the process. The mentality is different around here, from what I've seen from the previous two years. It's really exciting. I think and I still believe that John was the perfect decision at this time for us.
Two questions. The first one, you’re obviously talking like someone who's gonna be a part of this decision-making for the long term, why the interim title? What do you do to get it full-time? Is it a try out for a few weeks or what exactly is going on with that?
Well, look, I think it's the right thing to do. I'm okay with it. I don't have a problem with the interim tag. I like that Dave and his staff are going to take the proper time to evaluate who should be full time in that position. You know, I see myself staying here and being part of the future. I hope they believe in me as well. It feels that way. I honestly don't have a problem with the tag. We'll see what happens next. Like I said, I'm honored to be here and to be in this position. I want to do everything possible to help put this this franchise on the right track at this point.
A quick follow up, a lot has been made of the senior advisors on the Flyers, the guys who've been around for decades now. Are they part of your decision-making? Do you see them playing kind of the same role in the past with that?
I don't know at this point. I am not sure. What I can tell you is I have a lot of respect for... I assume you're talking about Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, and Paul Holmgren. I have a lot of respect for those guys for what they've accomplished in their career, both on and off the ice. Lots of respect. I've been in this position for 48 hours. I've had a quick chat with them. At this point, that's all that's happened. We'll see moving forward with what happens there.
There are two openings right now: President of Hockey Operations and General Manager. Does one of the two jobs appeal to you more than the other?
Well, I have the GM part in my title, so that's kind of what I'm going with at this point. I haven't really thought about President. At this point, I probably see myself as the GM, I would say, but I would be open to whatever Dave and Dan would see fit. It really doesn't matter to me.
As a quick follow up, Chuck Fletcher did not like the word rebuild when he talked about the future. Is that something that you don't like to use too? Or do you see this as a rebuild?
Not at all. I believe it's needed. We have to be careful, and I want to make sure that rebuild doesn't mean fire sale. There's a big difference between the two. I want to make that clear. We're not going to get rid of everybody. We have some good players here. Some players that are in certain roles that we're going to keep as well. We're going to look at every possible option out there to improve the team. I don't think this is a quick fix. That's my belief and that's why I'm not afraid to use the word rebuild. As long as you all understand, those little asterix, that it's not a fire sale. It doesn't mean fire sale for me.
Danny, what are kind of your primary focuses over the next couple of months heading into the off-season, Draft and does having the interim tag impact any of that?
Well, the next few things, it's helping John, his staff finish the season strong. Obviously, I know a lot of the players, but I'll have the chance to maybe dive a little deeper with his coaching staff and the people upstairs around me. Have deeper discussions on evaluating players and what the next few steps moving forward. At the same time, the draft is going to be a key opportunity for us to improve our team for the future. The reality is, unfortunately, we're not going to make the playoffs most likely this season. We're going to be positioned pretty well to add a key quality player for the future of this franchise. That's going to be important the next couple months to send the proper people in the right place to see us who's out there. Make sure we make the right pick. That's also going to be a key responsibility of my job.
You are the interim GM, but are you empowered if there were changes in the front office, either additions or subtractions that you're allowed to make?
That's a discussion that I need to have with Dave and Dan, but I believe so. At this time, it's not about rocking the boat. It's more about evaluating everybody that's in place, evaluating our players, finishing the season strong and being a help to the players and staff and everybody around me. Try to get everything on track finishing off. I'm not looking to change anything drastically right at this moment. I've had this job for 48 hours. It's not going to happen overnight. This is going to be a long process. Just like we've talked about doing things the right way, I think it applies also with everybody on the staff, not just the players.
It's pretty clear based on our conversation this morning that you would like to ultimately be named the GM. That said, you've only been an official member on the front office as a special assistant for a little over a year. What gives you the confidence that you have the necessary experience to take on that role for the players?
Oh, there's no doubt in my mind that I can do the job. I'm going to have some great people around me as well. It's not something that I'm going to do alone. I was never a player that worked alone. I always believed in team first, team mentality first, and it's going to be the same approach on this side. I love working with people and it's going to be the same way moving forward now. Even when I played as a player, I was always someone that studied my opponents, also studied my GMs, and what they were doing and whether the other GMs were doing. I probably started doing that a little deeper when I got to Buffalo, the way the Darcy Regier kind of built a young team that went to a couple back-to-back Conference Finals. I came here, learned a lot under Paul Holmgren as well, where we were a lot closer, maybe when I arrived to winning the Stanley Cup, but it was also coming off a year where we finished last, I believe, the year before I got here, and how he was able to rebuild that team. I went to Montreal with Marc Bergevin where he also had to rebuild the character of his team. In the year that I was there, I was able to take a team to the Conference Final as well and then to Joe Sakic in Colorado. I got there early in the process; they were just the latest Stanley Cup Champions. I was there early in the process when that rebuild was being made. Now I like to think that I was able to help some of the young guys because I was at the end of my career. More of in leadership role, little less responsibilities on the ice. I felt that I was there more for leadership, but I also saw how things were being built at that time. Since then, I've tried to follow how teams were building their teams. I've also learned on the business side, different things that you don't realize as a player, how everything works in front offices. It's been a great process. Yeah, maybe I was hired officially under Chuck in the past year, but my journey has started a long, long time ago. I've always been someone that pays attention to what's going on, how processes are being done, and how I could use it if one day I'd be in that position. I'm not gonna lie, it's something that I saw myself do from early on when I was playing. I always believed that I could be in this position one day. Again, it’s why it's so special and so exciting for me.
First, as Adam [Kimelman] was referencing, the still is relatively new to you in the front office and you were talking about your preparation for it. But in your mind, how important is it as there's a search for a team president is there to have somebody with high degree of experience in a front office role? Or does it really kind of depend on who the candidate is?
Why I think there's many ways to go about that. That would be more of a question for Dave Scott and Dan Hilferty. I don't want to put words in their mouth that whatever they decide. It might be someone that can help in a day-to-day decision, or maybe it's someone else that we find in a different role. I'm not sure. That would be more of a question for them.
Chuck, in one of his last press conferences, was talking about how he's not planning a fire sale. He mentioned a number of young players as a group that in his mind were growing and continue to build on key guys like Noah Cates, Owen Tippett, Cam York, Morgan Frost and maybe a couple other guys. In your mind, is that the group that go in each day individually? Are these guys that you're looking to continue to grow as an organization?
Well, what I would say to that is our young guys have a lot of value to us. At the same time, we're not in the position to not listen to anyone. The young guys are not the guys that we would be shopping, obviously. Yes, I have been really impressed in the development of the guys that you've mentioned under John Tortorella. That's the really exciting part for me. Seeing some of the young guys take a step this year. In the last few days seeing also guys like Elliot Desnoyers and Tyson Foerster come up and hold their own. Gives us a lot of hope moving forward. They're all going to be part of the evaluating process. As you've seen, there's no one that's untouchable anywhere. If Wayne Gretzky can be traded, anyone can. But obviously, some players have more value than others and I'm not going to deny that.
I don't know if you know this yet or not. As far as Brent Flahr, is he going to be around? Is he going to be the leader of the Draft? And moving forward, is he going to be on the staff here?
That's my expectation. I have a great relationship with Brent. He's been tremendous. He's included me on everything since I started working with Chuck. I have a lot of confidence in Brent. You look at his track record at the draft. It's pretty impressive. So yeah, I would say so.
The timing was a bit curious, right after the trade deadline. How active were you in trade discussions? If this was going to happen, would you'd rather had it before the deadline to get a full crack at shaping the roster that way?
I didn't even think of that. I was trying to help as much as I could at the deadline like everybody else. That's really not my decision. It happened 48 hours ago. I'm ecstatic. I'm so happy and honored to be here. I'm not questioning what was done before or when the decisions were made. To me, it's about moving forward. Looking to this day and moving forward. That's what I'm excited about.
Have you been given any idea what kind of timeframe Dave and Dan have to hire full time people? Obviously, your interview started 48 hours ago and it's going to be ongoing. Have they given you any ideas of when they want to have full time people in those two positions?
No, I don't know what the timeline is at this point. I have the feeling, or I was kind of led to believe that it's not going to be something that's going to drag into next season. I don't know the timeline of things. I'm sure they're going to reach out to people and talk to different people. Hopefully, the decision is made soon.
Last year, we were talking about the development program needing improvement. This season has been a big year for the Phantoms with a lot of young players taking bigger bites of the team. Do you feel that that is on the right track? Or do you think that it still needs to be accelerated?
That's a good question. Something we're going to evaluate deeper. At the same time, I think Lappy has done a great job preparing these guys when they were called up. Like you mentioned, they've done a really good job coming up and helping. You look in the case of Cam York, I remember beginning of the year when we sent them down, you would have thought that was the end of his career. Even though it wasn't easy for him, it was a tough time. He battled through. I was really impressed on how he got through that and how Lappy’s staff was able to get him back on track, work with him, and how good he's been since he got called up. He's playing heavy minutes for us in our top four and on the power play. It's been an impressive process, so it's got to be part of the evaluation.
You've come across like trying to find your feet a little bit. Were you surprised when you got the call?
A little bit, obviously. You don't go to work expecting the person you work for to be fired. Like I said, the last 48 hours it's been a little crazy. Lots of people reaching out. Lots of friends reaching out. I couldn't keep up and I apologize to everyone if I haven't had the chance to get back to you yet. It's been a little crazy. I know I'm repeating myself and I apologize for that, but it's been pretty amazing. It's quite an honor. I’m trying to survive at this point the last 48 hours.