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Danny Brière reveals new vision for Flyers’ style of play

We’re not in the ‘70s anymore. And that’s a good thing.

Buffalo Sabres v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Everybody in the hockey realm knows what “Flyer hockey” looks like — it’s a rough, unforgiving style of play characterized by physicality, toughness and a no-nonsense attitude. And to many of the Philadelphia Flyers’ top executives, it’s an extremely difficult style to play against.

Except it hasn’t been difficult to play against at all. In fact, it hasn’t been difficult to play against in years.

The Flyers have been molded to play this style of hockey since the Broad Street Bullies took the NHL by storm in the ‘70s. But in the year 2023, that style of play has become null and void. The Flyers are about to miss the playoffs for the third straight year, and they’ve only won one playoff series in the last decade. All thanks to the nostalgic urge to keep that out-of-date monicker relevant.

Something about “Flyer hockey” has to change.

And it’s about to.

While guesting on The John Kincade Show of 97.5 The Fanatic, Flyers interim (and likely soon-to-be full-time) general manager Danny Brière revealed his idea of what “Flyer hockey” should be in today’s NHL. And for many, his vision will be music to the ears.

“If I’m defining Flyer hockey, it’s not the Broad Street Bullies from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Times have changed. You can’t play the game that way anymore, so we have to be realistic when we say that,” said Brière.

“To me, Flyer hockey is a team like John Tortorella is trying to build right now. A lot of character, competitive, guys that work hard every single night. At the moment, it’s been a little more trying scoring goals. We have a hard time scoring goals and creating offense. That’s gonna come eventually. But we want to build our culture. Guys that are working hard, guys that are competing every single shift. And we’ve seen that a lot more of our team this year, but it’s far from being a finished product. We still have a lot of work to do. But that’s how I would define Flyer hockey.”

It’s no secret the Flyers lack elite talent on the current roster. They certainly don’t lack physicality department, though, leading the league in fights and ranking fifth in hits. But they’re floundering in the area that matters most — goal scoring.

The Flyers currently rank 31st in the league in goals per game (2.59). The only team scoring fewer goals per game is the Chicago Blackhawks — a club unmistakably in tank mode.

At this moment in Flyers history, high-end talent is almost nonexistent. Sure, Travis Konecny is a solid piece on the wing. Owen Tippett is developing into a legitimate offensive force. Kevin Hayes (when he’s not being benched for his defensive errors) possesses All-Star potential. But right now, the Flyers do not have any truly elite players on the roster.

However, it feels like a change is coming judging by Brière’s comments.

Last Sunday, Brière admitted a full rebuild is on the way. And as the rebuild takes shape, it’s possible “Flyer hockey” will take on a complete overhaul.

Sure, the Flyers will still aim to be tough and be “hard to play against.” But in this new iteration, ideally, the Flyers will be hard to play against because of their smarts and skills as opposed to their beef and brawn.

The Flyers have a golden opportunity to add some elite talent to the roster soon, too. This year’s draft class is glorified for its depth. All-world talent Connor Bedard is the crown jewel of the bunch, but Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson, Matvei Michkov and Zach Benson are all potential stars in the making. The Flyers could finish with a top-five pick, and if they’re lucky, one of those young studs could fall into their lap.

And, not to mention, the Flyers will have two first-round picks in next year’s draft as well thanks to the Claude Giroux trade.

As Brière admitted during his introductory press conference last weekend, the Flyers’ rebuild is going to be a multi-year process. It is going to take time, and the Flyers’ shift from playing their outdated style of hockey to a new-school approach won’t happen overnight. But the acknowledgment that a change is needed is a big step for a team that’s been living in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Overdue, but still needed.