Flyers chairman Scott to retire; Hilferty becomes successor

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA — Dave Scott will retire as chairman of the Philadelphia Flyers’ parent company Comcast Spectacor and be replaced by Dan Hilferty.

Hilferty, who was recently named CEO of Comcast Spectacor, will succeed Scott as chairman of the company on April 17 and as the team’s governor on July 1.

Scott joined Comcast Spectacor in December 2013 and the Flyers have struggled under his reign. They will miss the playoffs for a third straight season and haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1975.

“Our number one goal for the Flyers will be to consistently compete for the Stanley Cup,” Hilferty said. “It is going to be a process that will take time to get on that path, but I’m confident we are headed in the right direction with Danny Briere as interim GM, Coach Tortorella, and our hiring of a President of Hockey Operations soon. Our leadership team will be fully focused to deliver on this for our fans while also continuing to make the sports complex the best location for sports and entertainment in the nation.”

As Chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectacor, Hilferty will lead the company’s entire portfolio, including the Philadelphia Flyers. Spectacor Sports and Entertainment CEO Valerie Camillo will continue to work directly with Hilferty, overseeing the Wells Fargo Center, including its continued transformation, and lead the Flyers’ business operations.

Tortorella earns 700th career win, Flyers top Wild 5-4

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PHILADELPHIA — John Tortorella needed one word to sum up if 700 career wins meant anything to the Flyers coach.


OK, then. Good thing the brusque Stanley Cup winner isn’t paid by the word.

James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal in a shootout, and Philadelphia beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Thursday night for Tortorella’s 700th victory.

Tortorella is 700-573-181 in 1,454 games as an NHL head coach. His 700 wins rank 12th in NHL history and his career games rank ninth in NHL history. He led Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004. In his first season coaching the Flyers, Tortorella joined Peter Laviolette as the second American-born coach to win 700 games.

“I think the culture’s kind of changed around here,” Flyers forward Joel Farabee said. “I think he’s done a really good job of keeping the group together.”

Farabee, Scott Laughton, Rasmus Ristolainen and Tyson Foerster scored for Philadelphia. The Flyers have two straight games for the first time since Jan. 9-14 when they won three straight. Yeah, it’s been that kind of season.

“Farabee’s starting to pop, he’s looking real good. Tyson is looking real good,” Flyers defenseman Tony DeAngelo said. “This is all about laying the foundation for next year but we get a lot of money to do this job. It’s something we love, so we’re gonna go out and give it our best every night.”

Matt Boldy had two goals for the Wild, and Oskar Sundqvist and Marcus Foligno also scored.

“We weren’t very good. They were good,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We knew they were playing well, they played well tonight. We were loose. We were not firm, turnovers, it didn’t look like our hockey club.”

The Flyers and Wild were tied 1-all at the end of the first period, 3-3 at the end of the second and 4-4 headed into OT.

The rebuilding Flyers have been plucky of late. They had won two of three coming into the game, with the lone loss in overtime. They showed some of that grit in the final two periods, scoring late tying goals.

“It’s a credit to their group, to their coaching staff, that they’ve got them playing the right way,” Evason said.

Boldy poked a backhander past Carter Hart with 6:28 left for a 4-3 lead. The Flyers, playing more for the No. 1 pick and for pride, tied the game on Foerster’s second goal of the season.

Farabee tipped in Cam York’s shot early in the second for a 2-1 lead.

The Wild got going when Boldy ripped one top shelf past Hart for his 24th goal of the season that tied the game 2-all. Foligno scored his seventh goal for the 3-2 lead.

Ristolainen buried a hard slapper from the blue line on the power play for the tying goal with 23 seconds left in the second.

“I think it’s good to try to lay this foundation, kind of get ready for next year. You see guys getting confidence,” DeAngelo said.

The Flyers only played ahead in the first period.

Laughton scored off the rush for his 17th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead. Sundqvist celebrated his birthday with a deflection for the tying goal with 3:24 left in the period.

The Flyers had been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL until the start of this seven-game homestand (3-2 so far). They have scored at least three goals in every game and at least four in the last four.

“We have definitely gotten to the net better,” Tortorella said. “We have spent a lot of time on the ice and with tape as far as getting to that area.”


Wild: Host Chicago on Saturday.

Flyers: Host Detroit on Saturday.

Flyers interim GM Danny Briere believes franchise needs a rebuild

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PHILADELPHIA — Danny Briere is not reluctant to say the word his predecessor willfully avoided when plotting the best course for the forlorn Flyers: rebuilding.

Briere knows the Flyers are a mess – the depressed state of the team a topic former general manager Chuck Fletcher rarely addressed head-on – and is using what time he has as the interim GM to show he’s the right person to fix them.

That starts with the hard truth.

“I don’t think this is a quick fix,” Briere said. “That’s my belief and that’s why I’m not afraid to use the word rebuild.”

Briere was promoted to interim general manager and replaced Fletcher after he was fired following 4 1/2 seasons and only one playoff appearance. The Flyers have just 24 wins, their 59 points are third-fewest in the Eastern Conference and they will miss the playoffs for a third straight season.

Yes, the record was abysmal, but what ultimately doomed Fletcher was his inability to settle on a true plan to turn the Flyers into a perennial playoff team. He touted the Flyers this season as a playoff team, even with a mismatched roster of aging, overpriced veterans, too few prospects and so many injured players – such as Cam Atkinson and Ryan Ellis – it was easy to see it was going to be a long season in Philadelphia.

Well, easy for everyone except Fletcher.

Coach John Tortorella has been blunt about the hard days ahead from his first day on the job and never backed down from saying the Flyers need a multiyear process to become a playoff team. The low point came in December when on the same day at different news conferences, Tortorella said the team was “not even in the foundation, we’re at the footer,” while Fletcher said the Flyers were still in play for a wild-card spot and he expected them to remain competitive the rest of the season.

The Flyers, who open a seven-game homestand this week, have won two games since Feb. 9 and are on a three-game losing streak.

Briere championed Tortorella’s hiring and the pair are on the same page when it comes to the hard work needed to at least make the Flyers competitive, much less in the hunt for Philadelphia’s first Stanley Cup since 1975.

“What was really striking for me was how he was going to rebuild the culture over here,” Briere said. “Looking at the last couple of years, it was tough to watch, at times. I felt we were an easy team to play against. You don’t realize how important culture is until you lose it.”

The 45-year-old Briere, a beloved former Flyer who led the team to its last Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2010, has one caveat when it comes to rebuilding.

“I want to make sure rebuild doesn’t mean fire sale,” he said. “We’re not going to get rid of everybody.”

Briere seemingly will have a major say in the direction of the franchise. The interim tag isn’t expected to stick and his fast rise through the organization likely means he gets the job full time. Briere said the interim tag for now “was the right thing to do,” and team chairman Dave Scott said a “restructuring” of the front office was in the works. Fletcher also served as team president. The Flyers will now use two people in those roles.

Briere also was quick to say he respected the Flyers’ veteran consiglieres of Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, Paul Holmgren and Dean Lombardi but didn’t know how the foursome would factor into any future decision-making.

The Flyers have only three free agents – and Fletcher’s failure to deal James van Riemsdyk at the trade deadline was an organizational black eye – and loads of veterans such as Atkinson, Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov all on the hook for hefty salaries for multiple seasons. Moving them could be a challenge. Briere said while some younger players such as Noah Cates, Owen Tippett and Cam York could be foundational pieces, no Flyer is untouchable in trade talks this summer.

It’s now up to Briere to think ahead, not just this offseason, but to map out a future for many seasons beyond this one.

Draft the right prospects. Sign and trade for healthy, productive players. Keep their own talent from regression. Don’t take shortcuts. It’s a rewarding cocktail that has eluded the Flyers for a decade.

Briere is up for the challenge.

“Oh, there’s no doubt in my mind that I can do the job,” he said.

Flyers fire embattled GM Fletcher, give Briere interim job

Carlee Calfee/NHLI via Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA – With the Philadelphia Flyers in need of a complete franchise overhaul, Chuck Fletcher called the shots at the NHL trade deadline and came up empty.

A day later, the Flyers sent Fletcher to represent the team at a town hall meeting for season-ticket holders, where he was about booed off the stage.

His week only got worse.

A series of bad contracts, unfortunate injuries, sagging attendance and one of the worst records in the NHL ultimately doomed Fletcher, whom the Flyers fired Friday from his position as general manager and president of hockey operations.

The team promoted franchise great Danny Briere to the interim general manager role, the latest front-office shakeup for an organization that has not won a Stanley Cup since 1975. Briere, who served as special assistant to the GM, is considered a rising star in the front office.

Maybe he’ll have a concrete plan for a rebuild – which could involve more lean seasons – that Fletcher did not express over his 4 1/2 seasons on the job. The Flyers went 141-145-43 under Fletcher.

The Flyers, who had just one playoff berth in Fletcher’s tenure, play Saturday in Pittsburgh. Philadelphia is 24-30-11 this season under first-year coach John Tortorella and set to miss the playoffs for the third straight season.

“The Philadelphia Flyers organization has always been defined by grit, determination, and a standard of excellence. Over the past several seasons, our team simply has not lived up to that standard, so today, we will begin to chart a new path forward under a new leadership structure for Hockey Operations,” Flyers Chairman Dave Scott said.

Briere, who helped the Flyers to their last Stanley Cup appearance in 2010 when they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks, was promoted last year from his player development role to special assistant to the GM.

“Flyers fans deserve a better team than what they’ve seen on the ice over the past few seasons, and a clear plan to return this team to Stanley Cup contention,” Scott said. “We know that this will be a multi-year process, and we are committed to doing it right, because we want to put this franchise on a path toward winning the Stanley Cup, period.”

Briere didn’t know how he wanted to stay involved with hockey once he retired in 2015 from a 17-year career – with 307 goals and 696 points.

He met shortly with former Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, who signed Briere to a free-agent deal and invited him to spend time on the administrative side of the operation. Briere learned the business from the ground up – marketing, ticket sales, social media, finance – and caught a break in 2017 when the Flyers’ parent company bought an ECHL team in Maine. Briere largely oversaw the day-to-day operations of the team.

Scott said the Flyers will look to restructure the front office and that starts with breaking the general manager and president roles into two jobs.

“We view this as a critical opportunity to not only re-establish the standard of excellence that our fans expect, but also to bring new energy, accountability, and strategic vision to our organization,” he said.

The Flyers haven’t won the Stanley Cup since consecutive championships in 1974 and 1975, and have advanced to the second round only three times since that 2010 run.

Fletcher’s biggest blunders may have come last week, when he failed to receive anything at Friday’s deadline for James van Riemsdyk or other aging, expensive players.

“The deals that were presented to me were not good deals for the Philadelphia Flyers. Last summer, being more aggressive was not going to be good for the Philadelphia Flyers,” Fletcher said last week. “Maybe in the short run it makes me look better, but we don’t want Band-Aids anymore. We want to build this the right way and we’re committed to doing it. Those are my words, my actions will have to back it up, but we’re committed to doing it.”

He went all out in 2021 with a series of moves that didn’t really pay off. His trades for defenseman Ryan Ellis and forward Cam Atkinson yielded nothing because of injuries, and the Flyers have received little production out of the rich contract extensions given to Joel Farabee, Sean Couturier and others.

Scott noted as much Friday, saying Fletcher faced significant challenges, “including some that were outside of his control.”

Fletcher was hired in December 2018 to replace Ron Hextall – now Pittsburgh’s general manager – and soon fired coach Dave Hakstol, who is coaching the Seattle Kraken. Fletcher hired Alain Vigneault as coach but a promising first season that included a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals in the 2020 COVID-19 bubble unraveled.

The Flyers became the first team in NHL history to have a pair of 10-game losing streaks within the first 40 games of the season and Vigneault was fired early last season.

Scott said he didn’t see the Flyers undergoing “a three-, four-, five-year rebuild at all” while Fletcher continued even early this season to tout the team as a playoff contender.

Tortorella never saw it that way. The blunt coach who won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay has insisted he needs time and patience to turn the Flyers into winners. He might get there, eventually. Fletcher just won’t be along for the ride.

Flyers’ DeAngelo suspended 2 games for spearing Perry

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Tony DeAngelo was suspended two games by the NHL for spearing Tampa Bay’s Corey Perry during a scrum in front of the net.

DeAngelo received a major penalty and a game misconduct for pushing a stick into Perry’s lower body. The action set off a more intense scrum.

DeAngelo said after the game he was trying to give Perry “a little shot.”

“I wasn’t looking for it to go there,” he said. “He tried to slash my stick out of my hands the second beforehand. He talks all game.”

DeAngelo will miss games at Carolina and at Pittsburgh, and forfeit about $54,000 in salary.

DeAngelo has 10 goals and 34 points this season.