- Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.
Philadelphia Flyers interim general manager Daniel Briere acknowledged the team needs a multiyear rebuild as he campaigns to earn the job on a permanent basis.
Briere, 45, replaced GM Chuck Fletcher on Friday. Fletcher, who was fired after five seasons, was also the team’s president of hockey operations. Briere said he would be honored to fill either job opening but was focused on the general manager’s position.
“I don’t have a problem with the interim tag. I think [ownership is] going to take the proper time to evaluate who should be full-time in that position. I see myself staying here and being part of the future. I hope they believe in me as well. It feels that way,” he said.
Briere played with the Flyers for six seasons during his 17-year NHL career. He was hired as a special assistant to Fletcher last year and was involved in decisions such as the hiring of coach John Tortorella.
Dave Scott, the chairman of Comcast Spectacor and governor of the Flyers, has called the team’s path back to Stanley Cup contention “a multiyear process.” Briere agreed with that timetable.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that this isn’t a quick fix. It’s going to take a little while,” said Briere.
Fletcher famously said last season that the Flyers needed “an aggressive retool” rather than a rebuild. While Briere said he wasn’t afraid to call the next phase of the team a “rebuild,” he cautioned that doesn’t mean Philadelphia will “have a complete new team” next season.
“We have to be careful. I want to make sure that ‘rebuild’ doesn’t mean fire sale,” Briere said. “There’s a big difference between the two. So I want to make that clear. We’re not going get rid of everybody. We have some good players here, some players that are in certain roles that we’re going to keep as well.”
Briere said his next few months will be spent evaluating players and hockey operations staff with an eye toward the future, getting the chance to “dive a little deeper” into the players on the roster and in the Flyers’ system.
Briere anticipates that assistant general manager Brent Flahr will remain in place through the season and as part of the Flyers’ NHL draft preparation. But Briere was noncommittal when asked about how the team’s senior advisers fit into his vision for the Flyers. Former NHL general managers Paul Holmgren, Bobby Clarke and Dean Lombardi, as well as former coach Bill Barber, have come under scrutiny for how much influence they have behind the scenes with Flyers ownership.
“I have a lot of respect for those guys for what they’ve accomplished in their career both on and off the ice,” Briere said. “I’ve been in this position for 48 hours. I’ve had a quick chat with them. But at this point, that’s all that’s happened. So we’ll see moving forward happens there.”
As for his job prospects, Briere said he wasn’t concerned about his lack of front-office experience. Before becoming special assistant to Fletcher, he ran the day-to-day operations of the ECHL Maine Mariners, a minor-league team the Flyers had purchased. Briere also said he studied the general managers for whom he played, including Holmgren, Buffalo’s Darcy Regier and Colorado’s Joe Sakic.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that I can do the job. I’m going to have some great people around me as well. It’s not something that I’m going to do alone,” Briere said. “I’m not gonna lie: It’s something that I saw myself doing from early on when I was playing. I always believed that I could be in this position one day.”
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