With Dave Scott’s retirement and Dan Hilferty’s promotion, Flyers continue to make necessary changes


On the Philadelphia Flyers Charities Carnival on Sunday — the primary time it had been held since February 2020 — it wasn’t Comcast Spectacor chairman and crew governor Dave Scott making the rounds and chatting up these concerned with the occasion. It was newly employed CEO Dan Hilferty, together with Spectacor Sports activities and Leisure CEO Valerie Camillo, who was shaking arms and beginning conversations.

Scott’s absence and Hilferty’s presence makes much more sense now.

On Monday morning, Comcast Spectacor introduced what had been rumored for weeks — that Scott can be retiring from his remaining positions with Spectacor, after relinquishing the CEO position to Hilferty in mid-February. On April 17, he’ll formally step down as chairman of Comcast Spectacor; on July 1, he’ll relinquish his spot as crew governor, although that’s largely for logistical causes slightly than any trace that he’ll retain critical affect over the summer time.

Beginning on April 17, Hilferty will basically take over each roles. It’s his present now.

When Hilferty was employed, it initially appeared that his focus would largely be on the enterprise aspect of the operation — particularly, utilizing his huge contacts within the Philadelphia enterprise neighborhood with the intention of serving to to construct up the realm surrounding the Wells Fargo Heart. In any case, Hilferty has lengthy been an influence participant on the town scene, spending 10 years as CEO of Independence Blue Cross, and chairing the 2026 Philadelphia World Cup committee, which efficiently nabbed host metropolis standing (together with 10 different U.S. cities) in 2022.

However Scott’s tenure was winding down. My learn is that the crew’s struggles of the previous few years have worn him down — he was very a lot anticipating Ron Hextall’s expertise accumulation methods adopted by Chuck Fletcher’s extra win-now pivot to lead to a stretch of a yearly rivalry, and that very a lot regarded to be the case in 2019-20. As an alternative, all of it fell aside, and immediately the Flyers have been dealing with an prolonged rebuild, with Scott in his 70s and unlikely to see the fruits of it. Scott very a lot made the ultimate name to take away Fletcher, however looking back, it very a lot performs as a ultimate housecleaning to set his successor Hilferty up able to remake the group as he sees match.

It’s simple to perceive why followers have been furious with possession for the previous few years, and why the “promote the crew!” cries have gotten louder and louder because the crew has slipped additional into irrelevancy. Comcast Spectacor was largely content material to take a wait-and-see method to the state of affairs because it bought worse, so it makes good sense that followers would determine that if Comcast wouldn’t deal with the state of affairs, maybe the final hope was that new possession would are available and make these much-needed changes to get the membership again on monitor.

That stated, when it comes to core sports activities crew possession priorities, Comcast Spectacor has had the appropriate ones: they’ve an open checkbook and hardly ever meddle in hockey affairs.

They spend a ridiculous amount of cash on the crew, from participant salaries to off-ice personnel to area upgrades. Not like another NHL possession teams, Comcast has by no means been low cost when it comes to the Flyers. Nor do they do a ton of meddling. Certain, they’ve poked their noses in from time to time, pushing Hextall to be extra aggressive on the finish of his tenure and blanching on the concept of a rebuild for much too lengthy on the finish of Fletcher’s tenure. However even these “meddles” have been no less than partially influenced by the opinions of “hockey folks” within the group. For essentially the most half, Comcast has trusted the hockey decision-makers to construct the crew, and given them a clean test to achieve this.

That’s what followers ought to need in an proprietor. The issue on this case? The Flyers homeowners employed and have been listening to the mistaken hockey folks.

Is that an issue? Completely. Worthy of anger? Little question. Nevertheless it’s extra of a fixable downside than, say, convincing a lifelong tightwad to really spend cash. Or get an embarrassment-a-minute proprietor of the Dan Snyder selection to cease meddling in crew affairs and being a normal embarrassment at each flip. The answer wasn’t essentially for Comcast to promote the crew. It was to persuade Comcast to rent simpler hockey crew builders.

It should now be Hilferty’s job to just do that.

So what changes in brief time period? It’s essential to keep in mind that when Scott took over for Ed Snider, he was removed from a hockey skilled. The implementation of Invoice Barber as a senior adviser, for instance, was lengthy defined by these shut to the previous guard as getting Barber to basically train Scott the finer factors of hockey. It is sensible that Scott would then belief the recommendation and judgment of stated instructor and his interior circle of former Flyers when making large choices.

Hilferty, alternatively, doesn’t want to be “taught” hockey. He’s a lifelong Flyers fan who grew up in South Jersey. Certain, he might not have performed the sport at an NHL stage. However he’s not going to want a crash course in Hockey 101. He is aware of the sport and cares about it. He received’t want to lean on the previous guard the identical method that Scott felt like he wanted to do.

That’s not to say that Hilferty received’t respect the senior advisers — Barber, Bob Clarke and Paul Holmgren. Some (or all) would possibly even stay of their present positions no less than in title. In any case, Hilferty grew up watching these guys and cheering for them. He’s not going to unceremoniously kick them out of the group. However my learn is that they received’t be the guiding affect anymore, even when they’ll nonetheless be revered for his or her lengthy tenures and love for the group. Hilferty’s “hockey man” isn’t doubtless to be Barber — it will likely be whoever Hilferty and Comcast picks as president of hockey operations to function the bridge between possession and the entrance workplace in Voorhees.

Hilferty can also be far more of a pure media presence than Scott ever was. It’s not that Scott had dangerous intentions, however he was susceptible to tone-deaf asides, reminiscent of when he praised nonentity Gerry Mayhew to kick off the notorious “aggressive retool” information convention within the wake of the crew’s 13-game shedding streak. Hilferty isn’t Snider — nobody will likely be — however he’s a much more energetic presence. Don’t anticipate Hilferty to go radio silent and ignore media requests for 13 months as Scott did whereas the Flyers burned this previous 12 months. It might be a shock if Hilferty wasn’t considerably extra energetic when it comes to pitching his imaginative and prescient for the Flyers and utilizing his lifelong fandom of the crew as a method to exude credibility with the fan base.

As for additional organizational changes underneath Hilferty — yeah, they’re coming. That was abundantly clear the minute that Fletcher was relieved of his duties, and I reported as a lot earlier this month. Anticipate additional shakeups to come over the subsequent few months.

That stated, the sense I do get is that Hilferty could be very a lot on board with Daniel Briere as the final word alternative for normal supervisor and John Tortorella as the top coach, so don’t anticipate that to change together with his elevation. This part from Hilferty within the information launch asserting his promotion was very telling in that regard.

“Our primary objective for the Flyers will likely be to persistently compete for the Stanley Cup,” it reads. “It’s going to be a course of that can take time to get on that path, however I’m assured we’re headed in the appropriate path with Danny Briere as interim GM, Coach Tortorella, and our hiring of a President of Hockey Operations quickly.”

Briere remains to be very a lot the odds-on favourite to nab the full-time GM place. And Torts isn’t going anyplace both. Hilferty likes the old-school/new-school dynamic between the 2, and now the main focus turns to discovering a 3rd voice as president of hockey operations to full the brand new triumvirate when it comes to hockey decision-making energy in Philadelphia.

However that will likely be removed from the one resolution that’s made concerning the construction of hockey and enterprise operations over the subsequent few months. It is a key window for Comcast, with the followers demanding critical change. If they need to remake the group, that is the time to do it. Fletcher is gone. The person in cost on the prime is not instantly beholden to Flyers tradition and the senior advisers who’ve offered a guiding presence since Snider’s dying.

That is Hilferty’s likelihood to reap the benefits of his standing as an outsider, absent blame for the present state of the Flyers. At 66, he’s no stopgap — he’ll doubtless be working the present for fairly some time. If Hilferty chooses, he can make vital changes to how the Flyers do enterprise and how they assemble their crew. The approaching months and years will decide whether or not he efficiently takes up that mantle, and actually places his stamp on the group as a complete.

(Photograph of Dave Scott: Len Redkoles / NHLI by way of Getty Photos)