The Philadelphia Flyers introduced two new leaders of their hockey operations department Friday in what is being called “A New Era Of Orange.”
There was president of hockey operations Keith Jones, working in an NHL front office for the first time.
There was first-time general manager Daniel Briere, who had the interim tag removed Thursday, two months after he replaced the fired Chuck Fletcher.
And there was coach John Tortorella, already preparing for his second season with the Flyers and 22nd running an NHL bench.
So, how will the veteran coach handle working alongside a rookie president and a still-learning GM?
“I never even thought of the word rookie for either one of them because I think they’re seasoned hockey people,” Tortorella said.
Tortorella already has a base of knowledge with each of them. He coached Briere for two seasons as an assistant with the Phoenix Coyotes and renewed that relationship when Briere was part of the interview process that led to Tortorella being hired by Philadelphia when Briere was special assistant to the GM.
And Tortorella worked with Jones at TSN in 2014-15 and rekindled that friendship this season when Jones worked on Flyers TV broadcasts.
Each is new to their roles, but Tortorella doesn’t see that as an impediment. Instead, he sees opportunity.
“I think I can help them and they can help me,” he said. “I do. That’s what I like about that. … I think all three parties are willing to learn. I have strong convictions. I’m going to voice my opinion. I think they’re the same way. They may do it a little bit differently than me, I’m sure. But I have to … my listening skills are going to get better because I think I can learn from them. Do I think I can help them in certain situations? Absolutely. And I think they’ll listen. And it’s going to reciprocate.
“We’re three people I think with pretty strong personalities, that they’re not going to override one another, but they’re also going to be very honest amongst the group when we have those conversations.”
Tortorella already started that process with Briere. They watched several games together late in the season when Tortorella opted to allow his assistants to coach.
“We were able to converse about that play, that player making that play during a game, and it just kind of snowballed into some great conversations that we knew we were going to have to have this summer,” Tortorella said. “So, our relationship started evolving that way.
“He’s a sharp mind. And the thing about Danny, he has that boyish look about him but he has some strong, strong beliefs in how this should be done. And it aligns with how I feel about it too.”
They won’t always be in such alignment, but Briere said he isn’t worried that Tortorella’s robust opinions will overwhelm his.
“I’ll push my voice if I truly believe something needs to be said,” Briere said. “It’s kind of the same approach that ‘Torts’ has with his players. Everybody is allowed to have a say, and as he says, confrontation is healthy. We’re going to have different opinions. And that’s how we’re going to come to resolution and answers.”
Tortorella said he’s also relishing the opportunity to work with Jones in his new role.
“Wealth of knowledge just because of his job the past 20-plus years,” he said. “And I think he’s not afraid to voice his opinion. I think that’s so important.”
Jones said he’s long admired Tortorella’s coaching acumen, and also got to know the person beyond the abrasive side Tortorella can show publicly.
“I’ve always been impressed with the way that he coaches,” Jones said. “I think there’s things that he can tweak, I think there’s things that we can talk about. I know [the media] side of the business … I just want to make sure that we’re likable. There’s things that we can work on together. But I know he’s the right coach for this team. I was ecstatic when he was hired by Chuck. I thought it was the perfect coach. And I think he proved in many ways last year that he was. As we move forward, he’s a huge part of this team.”
Jones, Briere and Tortorella will be a three-man unit within that team as the Flyers map a path back to Stanley Cup contention.
“Everybody I think has the personality to voice their opinion, and not just agree along the way,” Tortorella said. “I think that’s how you solve problems. I think that’s what the process is about. I’m thrilled. … We’re going to have some arguments along the way, and that’s healthy. But to know that we’re in it together? I’m thrilled.”