What Do Briere's Words Really Mean?

Published November 29, 2023 at 10:20 PM
Let's start with the facts first. It's obviously true that the Flyers are rebuilding. Also true is that in the early process of a rebuild, the rebuilding team doesn't have any players that can be considered an "untouchable" where trade talks are concerned. In his comments last week, Briere is 100% correct when he says he has to listen to all offers if other general managers call about certain players.

Where things start to get twisted is when he says he "expects Carter Hart to be our goalie for a very long time", and Hart himself has come out and debunked the rumors and reports saying he wouldn't stay through another rebuild; which was the biggest concern after the GM switch back in March, yet somehow most read Briere's comments as "Hart's definitely getting traded". It's a twisting of the words that proves how differently people read and interpret things.

Briere's words struck many as "he's definitely being shopped around", while for myself(and I know for a few others) it read as more of a "he's as untouchable as they come on a team where nobody is "safe". We're not actively shopping him, but he can't be ruled as "untouchable" because that wouldn't be good for business. If a team calls and is willing to oversell to acquire him, we have to - at the very least - consider the offer, but it's going to take a lot for a trade to happen that involves a goalie we see as the future in our net".

Hart was the team's MVP this past season. It's hard to see a team deciding to trade their MVP just because. It's also worth remembering the Flyers have been notorious for being "the place goaltenders go to end their career" because before Hart many would or could argue the team had not had a legit #1 goalie in decades, and the one other chance they legitimately had at developing one, they let slip away because the owner was impatient, and now Flyers fans are watching him about to play in his first Stanley Cup Final and wondering "what if only they'd been patient, then maybe this team would have another cup already".

While it's true, and I fully agree that Briere has to listen to all offers, for all players, where Hart is concerned, I have to think that if the offer doesn't include anything the media would consider "over payment" on the acquiring team's part then it's probably not a very good deal, and the Flyers would be much better served holding on to Hart than potentially watching another situation unfold where they have no legit #1 in the future while Hart flourishes on another team and the fan base is once again left wondering "what if only".

Given goaltenders don't tend to rake in huge hauls on the trade market at any time overpayment wouldn't be very hard to accomplish, but that may once again come down to everyone's interpretation. Some could see the deal as an overpay while others may thing the Flyers didn't get enough.

Regardless of how it plays out, it's going to come down to interpretation.

But back to the facts, Briere sited the goaltending prospect pipeline as being a reason for even considering offers for Hart, and there are a couple of promising kids within the line, but none of them are yet fully NHL-proven. The closest is Samuel Ersson, but even he struggled at times in both the AHL and NHL this season, and until we see if he can work through long down stretches and hard struggles consistently, and bounce back from them, it's hard to imagine watching the Flyers without Hart in net and not knowing if there's a legit replacement behind him for the future.

In the end, given how differently everyone read and interpreted the comments, it may be truly hard to know exactly what Briere's words really meant. He's either going to make a trade, or he's not, and neither direction really tells anyone anything one way or the other. One thing that is for sure, though is if the Flyers do decide to go the trade route with Hart, the fanbase could be left hoping one(or two) of the promising kids in the pipeline pans out, and possibly even turns out to be better than Hart.

Perhaps, if Briere and (to a lesser extent) Jones play their cards perfectly, maybe one day "hope" won't be the only thing Flyers fans have to hold onto and look forward to with this team in the future, with or without Hart.
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