Daniel Briere’s first test

The former playoff hero gets his chance, with a fanbase to re-energize and lot of work to do.

After five tumultuous years under the eye of Chuck Fletcher, the Flyers have finally waved the white flag. He has been fired, effective Friday, from his roles as President and General Manager. The reign that started in December of 2018, divided the fanbase at nearly every turn, and yielded just one playoff appearance in the 2020 bubble, has finally come to a close.

To replace the departed Fletcher, the Flyers have decided to bring back a familiar face, at least for the time being (shocker I know). Playoff hero Daniel Briere is back; named interim General Manager for the foreseeable future. Briere cut his teeth in management with the Maine Mariners, overseeing day-to-day operations for the ECHL club as the President and Governor, before joining the Flyers as a special assistant to the General Manager last season.

There have been rumblings about Briere’s future in management in the recent past, and since his retirement in 2015, he has been tipped to move up in the organization and praised by multiple members of the Flyers’ brass, including the man he will succeed as GM.

He will get his chance now, a fresh pair of eyes to oversee a pivotal point in Flyers’ history where there are doubts about the construction of the current roster, and even more regarding the direction and decision-making process of the organization.

But as he takes over, there is one major question that Briere needs to answer: what is the front office trying to achieve?

Throughout Chuck Fletcher’s tenure, the Flyers were rightly criticized for their refusal to fully commit to either competing or rebuilding. The Flyers had entered a holding pattern since their playoff appearance in 2020; not being good enough to make the playoffs, but still having enough talent to pull them out of prime draft position.

This middling performance led to Fletcher becoming a sitting duck, and it was only a matter of time before it cost him his job.

Briere, and the more senior individuals above him, need to make a decision before this offseason on whether they want to continue grasping at straws and trying to retool, or embrace the facts in front of them, strip this entire project down to the studs, and start over.

To his credit, Comcast Chairman and Flyers Governor Dave Scott did make it quite clear in his comments regarding the firing of Fletcher that the organization seems to be trying to pivot. Scott said that the organization “will begin the process of re-structuring our Hockey Operations Department by separating the President and General Manager positions”, in addition to re-establishing “the standard of excellence that our fans expect”.

Words are simply words without concrete action, but after hearing the organization deny reality for at least the last half-decade, it is good to hear something that sounds like progress.

Briere’s job won’t really start until the offseason, if he does ultimately get the interim tag removed. But until then, he has the task of communicating a concrete plan to a frustrated fanbase that craves stability.

A healthy portion of the fanbase has accepted the fact that the team will not be competing for Stanley Cups anytime soon, that’s not the issue. The current problems arise from the front office’s stubbornness and refusal to face the music and admit that they failed in their original goal of creating a contender.

This new regime, whether it is ultimately led by Briere for the long-term or not, has an opportunity to wipe the slate clean, begin acquiring assets for the future, and communicate to the fans a new vision that is based in sensibility and the modern hockey landscape.

Let’s hope they can get it right.