Flyers’ Briere addresses media following Hart sabbatical

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Flyers' Carter Hart
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart (79) stops a Detroit Red Wings center Joe Veleno shot in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Yesterday, the press release from the Philadelphia Flyers (25-17-6) regarding Carter Hart being granted an indefinite leave of absence surprised and drew questions.

“Carter Hart has requested and been granted an indefinite leave of absence citing personal reasons. The club will have no further comment at this time.”

Daniel Briere; 1/23/2024

Not much could be said from the Flyers organization, and representation for Hart remained mum on the matter. Daniel Briere held a press conference this morning at the Flyers Training Center. The hope was to receive an elaboration on Hart, and potentially any substance to the Hockey Canada speculation.

Messages were sent to Hart’s agent, Judd Moldaver, and lawyer, Scott K. Fenton, seeking comment or further clarification on the situation, but communication wasn’t immediately returned.

After reading a prepared statement regarding Hart, Briere faced questions about the leave of absence and how it would affect the Flyers. Briere made it clear that he wouldn’t be sharing information with the media, citing he wasn’t able to comment and that the team would wait for information from the investigation to be made public. There is an inference the two are potentially connected, as it is all speculative, considering Philadelphia is instructed to not comment. However, this situation is handled delicately, and should not be unpacked with assumptions until proven otherwise.

From the optic lens of a sports franchise, this situation is critical in terms of what could happen between Hart, the Flyers, and the NHL. Briere stated the NHL and Hockey Canada as the hub of investigative report updates. Despite that, all eyes will be on how Briere handles his team business moving forward.

This season, Hart missed time due to an illness and participated in a goaltending tandem instead of assuming a larger quantity of a starting role like last season. Hart is 12-9-3 with a 2.8GAA and a 90.6%SV. Those numbers are similar to Sam Ersson, who is as impressive this season. In the offseason, Hart is set to become a restricted free-agent.

After sharing what he could about Hart, Briere did praise John Tortorella for making the Flyers a tough team to compete against. He highlighted Ersson, the defacto starting goaltender, for earning the trust of the coaching staff with his development and play this season.

Ersson is 12-7-3 with a 2.44GAA and 90.5%SV. Briere emphasized the plan to not wear out Ersson as he continues to develop. At first, Briere admitted his skepticism of Tortorella developing younger prospects versus playing veterans but turned the corner, confident in the culture Tortorella created on the ice and in the locker room. Another glowing example is the breakthrough Tortorella had with Morgan Frost after their discussion about healthy scratches in the lineup. While the young prospects are growing on the ice, veterans like Marc Staal, Sean Couturier, and Rasmus Ristolainen receive their flowers as mentors:

“We’re moving in the right direction. I’m extremely happy with where it’s at, at this point, but there’s always room for improvement. We want to keep building towards it. The next part is just the experience part; winning on a nightly basis. I love how we’re coming into games thinking we’re going to win every game. We’ve had some good stretches and down stretches here and there; part of the culture has limited us from going down to tail spins, but as we get better, the culture is going to keep improving, in my mind.”

Daniel Briere; 1/24/2024

The NHL Trade Deadline is looming on March 8th. Philadelphia won’t wheel and deal for the sake of aggressively seeking a player or assets. They’ll make ‘hockey trades’ that make sense. If the correct offer is there, Briere will listen:

“We’re not going to make trades just to make trades. If there’s something that makes sense that we feel makes us better for the future, we’ll strongly consider it. The one thing that I won’t be doing is, I won’t be trading prime assets just to make a run.”

Daniel Briere; 1/24/2024

Methodically, the Flyers and Briere will delicately handle individual situations regarding their players in addition to tacticfully planning ahead. Everyone is waiting for more answers, and we’ll be here with more content as it all unfolds.

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)