Philadelphia Flyers fans might need to wait to see their team return to the bright lights of the NHL and Interim General Manager and President of Hockey Operations Daniel Briere is hoping the fans remain patient heading into the 2023-24 season.
Briere took the podium on Monday along with head coach John Tortorella for the team’s end-of-season press conference in Voorhees, New Jersey. The Flyers finished with the seventh-worst record in the NHL, finishing with the fourth-fewest goals scored and 11th-most goals allowed through 82 games.
Briere replaced Chuck Fletcher on an interim-basis in March and worked alongside Tortorella in scouting the roster for a busy summer ahead. Although fans might not want to watch another Flyers rebuild this summer, Briere admitted it’s what best for the team.
“It started with me, with the rebuild,” said Briere. “I didn’t hide behind it. I came in, I said it. Now, how fast or how long it’s going to take, players will dictate that. But everybody’s on board. Everybody agrees that we need to do this the right way.”
“We might need a little bit of patience from fans in that regard,” he added.
There were plenty of expectations surrounding the Flyers following Tortorella’s appointment last summer, but by season’s end, those expectations turned into frustrations for many parties. Several players had to deal with Tortorella’s aggressive coaching style, including Travis Konecny, Tony DeAngelo, and others, who all received benchings at one point or another in 2022-23.
DeAngelo did not feature in the Flyers final five games of the season, opening the door to speculation about his immediate future with the team. Despite DeAngelo’s attitude towards being a member of the franchise he supported as a child, Tortorella opened up about the team’s needed growth to accept honest opinions about their play.
“Understand, at least here, you’re going to have to accept the honesty and understand that that’s all it is, is honesty. It’s not a personal thing,” Tortorella said. “We have a ways to go there. I think we’re way too goddamn sensitive about that. About simply coaching. That surprises me. That’s something that we’re going to have to really grow at.”
“If you look at this year alone, Torts bought into what we’re trying to do, and giving the chance to the young guys to play, to have more opportunities, more of a chance,” Briere said. “The message was really clear, and he bought in, and he knows it’s going to be part of it next year as well. Like I said, I’m not the only one making decisions, he’s not the only one making decisions – we have a group of people all together looking at what is the best for the organization, not just in a moment, but moving forward into the future.”
The Flyers did have a few bright spots during the season, which is something Tortorella and Briere will hope continues over the summer and into next season. Konecny became the first Flyers since 2018-19 to register 30+ goals, Owen Tippett, Cam York, and Morgan Frost all enjoyed positive seasons, and Carter Hart showed resiliency despite being hung out to dry for many games.
While many fans might be looking at all of the negatives with the Flyers, Tortorella and Briere are hopeful for continued growth from plenty of the positives.
“I thought we had some really good progress with our kids,” Tortorella said. “A lot of them were put into some heavy minutes in key situations. So in a year where I’m sure everybody around us, an atrocious year as far as this, that, the record, not making the playoffs, I don’t look at it that way.”
“Well, what I would say to that is our young guys have a lot of value to us,” Briere said when asked about the team’s commitment to keeping young players. “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.”