PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers have named long-time television analyst Keith Jones team president of hockey operations and have removed the interim tag from general manager Danny Briere’s title.
Jones was a surprise choice Thursday after he spent the last 23 years as an analyst for Flyers telecasts on NBC Sports Philadelphia. He worked on national broadcasts on NBC, and most recently for TNT’s coverage of the NHL in each of the last two seasons.
Jones broadcast the NHL Winter Classic, the Stanley Cup Final, and other league showcase events. He also spent 21 years on the SportsRadio 94WIP Morning Show.
“To be able to lead this team back to the winning tradition that everyone knows it can, and should be, is a true honor and one that I do not take lightly,” Jones said. “I consider the Philadelphia Flyers organization the gold standard of the NHL and professional sports. I’ve seen how this city and these fans can rally around their team and there is nothing that compares to that feeling.”
The Flyers are coming off one of the worst seasons in franchise history under first-year coach John Tortorella and have missed the playoffs for three straight years. They haven’t won a Stanley Cup since taking consecutive championships in 1974 and 1975.
Briere was promoted to interim general manager after Chuck Fletcher was fired in early March as the organization started to shuffle the front office ahead of a lengthy rebuild. Dan Hilferty was named chairman later that month of the Flyers’ parent company, Comcast Spectacor.
“I’ve dedicated my life to the sport of hockey and to be given this opportunity with the confidence from Dan Hilferty and the leadership group, in a city that means so much to me, words cannot describe my excitement,” Briere said. “I truly believe this is an exciting time for the Flyers with the steps that we’ve taken this past season, the way our team has responded to the standard that was set both on and off the ice and the path that we are on.”
The Flyers hold the No. 7 pick in the NHL draft. They are $9 million under the salary cap for next season, with several young players expected to compete to make the leap to the NHL. The Flyers have scores of veterans such as Cam 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 has 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.
Briere was one of the most productive postseason players in Flyers history and led the franchise to its last Stanley Cup Final in 2010. Jones played nine years in the NHL and scored 258 points (117 goals) in 491 career regular-season games with Washington, Colorado, and Philadelphia.
“This is a storied franchise with the most passionate fans in the National Hockey League. Our ultimate goal is to deliver them a championship. Achieving that goal will take time,” Hilferty said.