Sіobһаn’s Oріnіon: Brіere Sһould’ve Been Sһortlіsted For GM Of Tһe Yeаr If Flyers Mаde Plаyoffs

Flyers GM Danny Briere didn’t make the shortlist for General Manager of the Year, but if the Flyers had made the playoffs, there’s no reason why he couldn’t have.

Danny Brière right to say no Flyer is untouchable, even goalie Carter Hart

Okay, yes, we get it. The Flyers didn’t make the playoffs. That dead horse has been beaten way too much, as if Flyers fans needed the constant reminder. They don’t.

It’s a shame, too. Not just because the season ended in a way that’s not reflective of just how good the Flyers proved that they could be, but because it means that a lot of people in the organization didn’t get the recognition they probably should’ve gotten, and that is highlighted the more than ever with the absence of Danny Briere from the shortlist of nominees for the NHL’s General Manager of the Year award.

It would be naive to think that Briere could’ve snuck onto the shortlist despite the Flyers not nabbing a playoff appearance, but in a way, it does still feel like a bit of a snub for those of us that have been tuned in to all of the positive change he’s brought about in his first full season as GM.

If you look purely at the business side of things, Briere has made some incredibly shrewd moves to really kick the Flyers’ rebuild into gear.

Let’s start with the draft. Obviously, the crown jewel of Briere’s draft business is snagging Matvei Michkov seventh overall, but also picking up players like Oliver Bonk, Denver Barkey, and Carson Bjarnason certainly look like they’ll pay off as well. Briere showed that he wasn’t afraid to take risks—taking a Russian player like Michkov wasn’t viewed as the safest of moves, looking past the “undersized” label on a player like Barkey, etc. Briere has proven that he has a vision for the Flyers, and knows how to execute it, even if it means not playing it safe.

Then there are signings like Garnet Hathaway and Ryan Poehling, who have seamlessly integrated into the team and established themselves as consistent and reliable players that have earned the respect and praise of their coaches and teammates.

“Me personally, coming into my first year, it doesn’t feel like my first year,” Hathaway said during exit interviews back in April. “It feels like I’ve been here a long time in a great way.”

He also secured contract extensions for Nick Seeler and Owen Tippett, along with bringing goalies Ivan Fedotov and Alexei Kolosov out of the KHL and into the Flyers system (which came as a shock to pretty much everyone considering the ever-increasing political tensions with Russia).

Briere’s trade activity not only showcased his fearlessness as a GM, but his commitment to implementing a specific culture within the Flyers. He wasn’t afraid to trade away team mainstays like Ivan Provorov and Kevin Hayes, and managed to pull off that trade for Jamie Drysdale in essentially complete secrecy. Briere and President of Hockey Operations Keith Jones have proven that they won’t hesitate to let a player go if they don’t want to be a Flyer (looking at you, William), and have so far shown that they can get some pretty good things in return.

Speaking of implementing a culture, it deserves mentioning that Briere doesn’t shut himself in his office and field phone calls from scouts all day to help make his decisions. He and Jones make the journey out to games (home, away, and sometimes even foreign countries) to watch their players and prospects. They are in the locker room interacting with players; they’re involved with Flyers fans and the surrounding communities; they have already made unbelievable progress in mending a previously fractured and divisive relationship between the Flyers organization and its supporters. When, in its first year, your front office is drawing comparisons to the way Ed Snider ran things when he was alive, you know you’re doing something right.

Briere also had to navigate an incredibly difficult and chaotic situation when goalie Carter Hart took an indefinite leave of absence from the team and, along with four other professional hockey players, was charged with sexual assault, stemming from accusations made back in 2018. Briere handled it as well as anyone could have asked him to—he remained cool under pressure, didn’t shy away from being honest about the situation, but also didn’t give too much information away so as not to fan the flames of such incendiary circumstances.

It’s frustrating that the only thing that really held Briere back from being shortlisted for GM of the Year was the fact that the Flyers just barely missed out on playoffs. But as his career continues, I do believe that we’ll look back on this first year of his and remember it positively. It’s difficult to imagine anyone other than Briere being the architect behind the Flyers’ rebuild, and it’s been a while since the fans have been able to have such faith in the organization’s higher-ups. He may not have gotten on the list this year, but have no fear—Danny Briere is just getting started.

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