The Flyers kicked off the NHL’s pink slip season on Friday, announcing that Chuck Fletcher is out as general manager and Danny Breyer is now in the big chair.
There are few nicer people in the game than Fletcher. It’s a whole class. But it’s fair to say that this wasn’t a shocking decision. It felt, really, since last summer, like the clock was ticking on Fletcher as Philadelphia’s general manager after two frustrating seasons.
Enter Briere, and don’t let that official “temporary” designation as GM fool you — he has a great chance of becoming a full-time GM there. I would be very surprised if it wasn’t at the end of the pilots operation.
Even in his playing days, Briere was the thoughtful type who gave the impression that one day he’d be a GMO — just like his old Sabers teammate Chris Drury.
If people could just stay off Briere Road in Philadelphia, it could do really well. But it’s the Flyers, so who knows?
My friend Scott Burnside wrote an excellent profile on Briere for the athlete Three years ago, which certainly made an impression on Brier that Brier was working his way up the managerial ranks. And that’s exactly what he did, he got his way.
Then came the GM interviews in Montreal last season, when Breyer ended up as a final round candidate for the job landed by Kent Hughes, impressing the Habs group along the way in those interviews.
So this day was coming at some point. And it was just a matter of time.
We also had a change of GM in Nashville, as Barry Trotz takes over from David Boyle (the best GM in NHL history) on July 1st.
These two moves are changing the executive landscape in the league. Could they be just the beginning? Let’s take a look at other GM positions across the league:
Hey, did you know the Leafs GM was on an expired deal?
Toronto is finally trying to make it out of the first round of the playoffs, is having another stellar regular season, and GM couldn’t be busier ahead of the trade deadline. It’s all there. That is, either way.
Personally, I think Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment should have made this decision last summer. Loosely extending or cutting the doublas. (I was going to stretch it.) It wasn’t ideal to put your GM in a lame duck position in the NHL’s largest market. It’s fine in most NHL markets, but not in Toronto. The same reason Habs owner Jeff Molson wouldn’t let Mark Bergevin roll around in the wind all season a year ago and felt compelled to make the managerial changes he did when he did. Montreal and Toronto are not markets where the lame duck situation can easily be ignored.
The question is, what does the MLSE board see as worthy of an extension now for Dupas? One playoff series win? two? Will you reach the Stanley Cup Final? I think we’ll find out this spring. But I can assure you, on the look of Dubas’ other front offices, he won’t be out of work for long.
Brad Triliving, Flames
For the second time in his tenure as Calgary’s GM, Treliving is working on an expired deal. that happens. Boston’s Don Sweeney and Carolina’s Don Waddell both worked on expired deals in 2021-22 before re-upgrading after the season.
But this expired deal comes at an interesting time for Treliving, as he’s completed his ninth season at the helm after being named Flames GM back in April 2014. He’s been there for a while. They are in the midst of a race. The unique part of all of this is that head coach Darryl Sutter signed a two-year extension prior to the season. My understanding is that Flames ownership also had extension talks with Treliving around the same time, prior to the season, and for whatever reason those talks did not result in a deal. I think both sides have mutually agreed to talk again at some point.
I suspect those conversations will happen again before the end of the regular season. So we’ll see where this goes.
Dorion was signed through the 2024-25 season with a club option for 2025-26. He’s been a GM Sens since April 2016, so he’s completed his seventh season. His team is certainly looking to finally step up after rebuilding and signing young key players. But he’s on this list because a new property is on the horizon.
The hope is that the sale of the Senators will close by July, though those things could drag on. But either way, new owners are on the way.
So what does that mean for Dorion? It wouldn’t be surprising if the new owners wanted to reshape the organization, and that could include a change in General Motors. What I think would make more sense if the sale didn’t close until July or later is to allow Dorion at least another year since then by then most major hockey decisions will have been made by the June draft anyway. That should give the new ownership a chance to get to know Dorion next season, when he’s under contract anyway, before you decide to.s what should be done.
This is how I would play it, but we’ll see if the new owners feel the same way. Sometimes, the owners come in and want their management in place right away.
Hextall was hired as Pens GM in February 2021, agreeing to a four-year deal that also carries a team option for the 2024-25 season.
What is important to remember is that the team’s ownership group, led by Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, hired him. Then Fenway Sports Group took over as in December 2021. Say what you will, whenever a team changes, the current GM is the one to watch.
Hextall has come under fire in Pittsburgh, with the local media drawing some heavy criticism, especially over the past month. The thing that baffles me a bit, as I watch from afar, is that the Penguins are sitting exactly where I thought they would be before the season: in a spot full of cards. They are no longer a top level team in the conference.
Now, they could also miss the playoffs, which I suspect would be bad for Heckstall.
But I also believe that the function Hextall was already assigned to by previous ownership has changed on him. I think he’s set to make tough decisions about the core of aging – maybe start rebuilding, maybe in separate ways with an old player like Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang, for example. It seems very clear to me that the new owners wanted to keep the band together. So we are here.
Finally, it goes without saying that playoff results have a way of upsetting the apple cart. So let’s see what the first round has to offer in this regard.
(Photo by Kyle Dubas: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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