Flyers’ brain trust usher in ‘a new era of orange’

Flyers' Daniel Briere
FILE – Danny Briere speaks during a news conference Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Voorhees, N.J. The Philadelphia Flyers have fired general manager Chuck Fletcher and promoted former franchise great Danny Briere to the interim job, according to a person familiar with the decision. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Friday, March 10, 2023, because the move had not officially been announced. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Keith Jones addressed the media this morning, a day removed from accepting the President of Hockey Operations role for the Philadelphia Flyers.

He is the third head on the chimera. A bridge of communication between Comcast Spectacor and business partnerships, Jones also oversees Daniel Briere and John Tortorella. Briere will make the hockey decisions, including input from Tortorella.

The Flyers are calling this a ‘new era of orange.’ Here’s what we’ve learned from today’s press conferences:

Dan Hilferty

Hilferty acknowledged the discourse about inviting former Philadelphia Flyers into the front office. However, he is aware that the NHL has evolved but believes the Flyers can do the same without forgetting the roots which made the franchise great.

Additionally, to everyone saying ‘sell the team,’ Hilftery added that it isn’t for sale.

The common goal is to put the Flyers in a place to compete for the Stanley Cup. In describing how the front office will operate, he confirmed that Briere oversees the hockey decisions. Providing more clarity, Jones will collaborate with Briere and Tortorella while collaborating with Valerie Camillo, communicating transparent statuses of the franchise.

“In terms of the President of Hockey Operations, that person, Keith, is the leader of the team. That includes all aspects of team building, setting a vision, and also hiring or firing.”

Dan Hilferty; 5/12/2023

The hiring process was tenuous. Reportedly, Jones and Eddie Olczyk were finalists for the position. Between those two, Jones knows the current state of the Flyers. For how the President of Hockey Operations role will function in Philadelphia, Jones is the smoother fit.

John Tortorella

Immediately, Tortorella noted Jones as a ‘fantastic’ hire. He already worked with Briere to finish the season, on board with the front office.

“What you have are two strong hockey minds and personalities not being afraid to shed their opinion in discussions. That is going to be so productive.”

John Tortorella; 5/12/2023

As quickly, Tortorella sounded off about the stigma of hiring former Flyers to help in the front office:

“I don’t get, in this process, when people start talking about Flyers Alumni. Jonesy, an ex-Flyer. Danny, an ex-Flyer. What has happened? Why do people think that they’re diseased; that they’re an ex-Flyer, if you come from the organization that you shouldn’t be in the organization, that you need to look outside?”

John Tortorella; 5/12/2023

The ones who care the most are right here, summing up those comments. There is a constant doom-and-gloom about former Flyers Alumni from the fanbase, but the title of ‘Flyers Alumni’ doesn’t make a poor hockey decision or dictate which players will miss a season because of injury. Chuck Fletcher wasn’t an alumnus. It’s an improper label.

Flyers' John Tortorella
PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 08: Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella looks on during the game between the ST. Louis Blues and the Philadelphia Flyers on November 8, 2022 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Tortorella is excited and intrigued to get to work with Briere and Jones. The trio already began to ‘scratch the surface’ on a few things that need to take place this summer, as the bench boss put it. He’s ready to clash opinions in the war room to make the Flyers stronger on the other side. 

Keith Jones

Being a former player in an executive role doesn’t make a hire a ‘red flag;’ but the lack of experience Jones has does. It raises questions, but the Philadelphia Flyers are concerned with centering this franchise. A stellar communicator, Jones was the lead analyst of Flyers hockey. He isn’t unaware.

“To be able to lead this team back to the winning tradition that everyone knows it can, and should be, is a true honor and one that I do not take lightly. I consider the Philadelphia Flyers organization the gold standard of the NHL and professional sports. I’ve seen how this city and these fans can rally around their team, and there is nothing that compares to that feeling.”

Keith Jones; 5/11/2023

His finger is on the pulse. It has been since he arrived in Philadelphia, traded by the Colorado Avalanche. He said, “I couldn’t believe I was going to be a Philadelphia Flyer.”

“This is the only team I would have ever thought about doing something like this. I would not have interviewed anywhere else. I only did my job on television to do my job on television. I never campaigned to get into a position to take a job like this.”

Keith Jones; 5/12/2023

Jones provided an interesting point. His inner circle shows signs of success in the NHL, including Craig Berube, Rick Tocchet, Joe Sakic, and Rod Brind’Amour; he has a wealth of knowledge in contacts from his playing days, and from a league perspective, Jones noted his relationship with Gary Bettman grew.

Teamwork, simply put, is the collaborative ingredient qualifying Jones for his role with his new Flyers front office team.

Daniel Briere

A lot of pressure rides with Briere. The dynamic of this front office expresses that he must be every bit the managing dynamo the Philadelphia Flyers believe. Jones will communicate the vision of the rebuild, and Briere will execute it. 

“I truly believe this is an exciting time for the Flyers with the steps we’ve taken this past season, the way our team has responded to the standard that was set both on and off the ice and the path that we are on. There is a lot of work to be done but these last few months have only strengthened my resolve and made me even more eager to rebuild this team and deliver this city a Stanley Cup.”

Daniel Briere; 5/11/2023

Patience is critical. Briere stressed the obligation of rebuilding correctly, giving his full attention to the Flyers fans:

“You have my full attention. It’s been an incredible honor to serve the last two months as the GM of the team. The fact of the matter is, it’s only made me hungrier to turn this thing around. We are on our way, and I consider it my highest duty to rebuild and restore this team to its winning ways for years to come.”

Daniel Briere; 5/12/2023

Previously, Fletcher was the President of Hockey Operations and the GM of the Flyers simultaneously.

The previous front office philosophy limited teamwork and transparency. Fletcher had too much power, and it was hard to hold him accountable. Splitting up those positions between Jones and Briere helps balance perspective in the front office, sometimes coming to a conclusion over splitting differences. Briere welcomes the disagreements for the betterment of the franchise:

“I don’t want people around me that are just ‘yes men, or yes women.’ I want different opinions. I want people to bring their own vision, and we’ll come up with the right answer.”

Daniel Briere; 5/12/2023

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)