Hear from Flyers Governor Daniel Hilferty and President of Hockey Operations Keith Jones as they meet with the media at Flyers Training Center.

On Wednesday morning, President of Hockey Operations Keith Jones and Comcast Spectacor CEO and Flyers Governor Dan Hilferty conducted a roughly half-hour long offseason press conference with the local media.

The two Flyers executives talked about the state of the rebuild one year into the "New Era of Orange", from both business and hockey standpoints. Hilferty and Jones also discussed their thoughts for the next steps in the process.

Here are three overarching takeaways from Wednesday's session.

1. Changing culture and perceptions is a work in progress.

Hilferty noted that anytime there are large-scale changes in an organization -- a new CEO, a new general manager (Daniel Briere), and a new president on the hockey operations side -- it means that a different direction was needed.

This was the case with the Flyers, who have only won a playoff series once in the last 10 years and failed to qualify for postseason play since reaching the second round during the pandemic-affected 2019-20 season.

"If you look at the track record that we've had over the past decade, it's been not a great one. I felt that we needed to do three things, we needed to change the discussion around 'Oh, here they go. Again, it's a losing environment,' to 'What are they up to? They're not overpromising, but they're looking us in the eye and having a conversation about where we're headed.' And that's what we've tried to change," Hilferty said.

"The whole ‘New Era of Orange’ was about, we're going to, as much as we can, look each of you in the eye and have an honest conversation about where we are."

Hilferty said that affecting meaningful change does happen overnight. The main focus of last season was to try to improve the culture on the hockey side -- take the next steps in identifying who will be part of the club moving forward, restoring greater competitiveness and structure on the ice as well as establishing stronger camaraderie in the dressing room.

On the player relations side, it meant unveiling fully renovated facilities including a brand new locker room at the Wells Fargo Center. It also meant having Briere, Jones and Hilferty himself regularly interact with players after games, in much the same supportive tradition established by the late Ed Snider.

The long-term goal, starting with building back toward being a top team in the standings while also maintaining a commitment to these other details, is to reestablish the Philadelphia Flyers as a team for whom players will want to come and hate to leave.

Jones said in this regard, "We still obviously have a long way to go. We're keeping our eye on that prize, but it does start within. I do think there's been a lot of progress made on the team coming together and the players enjoying playing here again. When we're in a position to go out and you know, get a premier player through free agency, this is going to be a destination that they want to come to again."

On the fan relations side over the past year, the first steps taken in the process meant focusing on greater transparency and boots-on-the-ground accessibility. For example, it is not at all uncommon for Hilferty to interact with fans who attend practice at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees. It's also common to see Jones -- or even general manager Briere -- chatting with fans in the Assembly Room on a game night at Wells Fargo Center.

The fans' input is not just encouraged but openly sought for people's candor about what's working, what isn't working and how the fan experience can be improved at the arena, the practice facility and public events.

Hilferty said that there's nothing revolutionary about any of these steps -- these were all fundamental parts of how Ed Snider believed the franchise must operate to be successful. The key is to maintain those commitments, year-in and year-out.

"You don’t want to take a step back. You want to make sure that you continue to build the culture," Jones added.

"I think that it’s an everyday thing. You have to pay attention to it. You have to be around. It was great that Hilf was around as much as he was. Including road games, which is very unusual but very welcomed. Our players sensed that they feel like they are part of something important."

2. Commit to spending on roster-build, but do it wisely.

The Flyers have never been a team -- either before or since the establishment of a leaguewide salary cap -- that has been shy about having one of the top payrolls in building their NHL roster. Last season, following several summertime trades, the team was able to weaponize their in-season cap space to some degree.

Most notably, it was done as part of the Sean Walker trade near the deadline in order to acquire an additional first-round Draft pick for the 2025 Draft. The Flyers took on the remainder of Ryan Johansen's contract, which runs through the 2024-25 season, in order to secure a first-round pick through Colorado's rental of impending unrestricted free agent defenseman Walker.

Moving forward, however, Jones said the Flyers want to focus on devoting their cap space to players on the active roster. The POHO feels the organization has lost too much cap space to buyouts and retention in trades. A buyout doubles the existing length of payment commitment in exchange for shorter-term lessening of a bought-out player's cap hit. On the back end, it means continued cap consequences beyond the remaining term of the original contract.

Additionally, players who are dealing with long-term injuries that preclude a return to the ice (such as Ryan Ellis) cannot be bought out. This is forbidden under the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement. While using long-term injured reserve (LTIR) designations provides a temporary allowance to exceed the salary cap during the season, it also runs the risk of incurring overage penalties on the next season's available cap space once bonuses are paid out.

There is bad news and good news for the Flyers in terms of their salary cap picture. The bad news: The organization does not have much liquidity under the cap entering the 2024 offseason. The more encouraging news: The Flyers have quite a few cap commitments currently slated to end after the 2024-25 season, and the cap ceiling itself is projected to rise by significant margins in upcoming years with the pandemic in the rearview mirror.

Jones noted during Wednesday's press conference that the Flyers rebuild timeline is directly impacted by salary cap space on one hand, and by how wisely the available space is used. At present, there are a lot of cap dollars tied up in players who are not on the roster.

"I think the one indicator on the timeline that's out there for everyone to see is the money that we have tied up right now, for players that aren't playing for our team. A lot of that is going to start to come off with a cap. I do think that if you're looking further down the line, that is where we're going to start to have some real key decisions to make," Jones said.

"We have to get them right. There's no room for error on whatever players we add to the mix in a couple of years. Those are things that we have to pay a lot of attention to right now. And that's something that we're really focused on. Some of that is growth from within, some of our younger players, and whoever we draft with the two first round picks we have this year, and then the multiple first round picks next year. That's going to be key."

Jones paused and then added, "At the same time, the removal of money off the cap, the dead money, is something that we're going to be able to use to our benefit, as long as we do everything right here and make sure that this is a place that people want to play. It's really important for us to get that message out. It's important for us to continue to communicate with our fans, it's important for us to show off our fan base."

A big key to making the right decisions moving forward: a strong commitment to the continuous improvement of scouting (both amateur and pro) and player development.

"I think there's a blueprint out there that we can maximize and hit on, but we've got to do it right. I'm pretty confident that we have a group of people around with Dan’s support and Danny Briere, you know, pounding the pavement to find those type of players. I think we're going to be in a position to get things to a point where we're playing in the playoffs, not just for one year, but for multiple seasons trying to contend and win a Stanley Cup," Jones said.

3. On-ice improvement still measured in increments.

Even when the Flyers found themselves in the driver's seat for a playoff spot down the stretch of the 2023-24 season -- a position the team later relinquished after a fatal eight-game losing streak against a series of non-playoff teams -- both Jones and Briere publicly stated that the team was not yet a bonafide contender.

Jones and Briere were encouraged by the competitiveness the team showed. The Flyers beat 30 of the other 31 teams in the NHL at least once in 2023-24, with the lone exception being the Nashville Predators (against whom Philly went 0-1-1 in the two-game season series). This did not mean the Flyers have "arrived" as a bankable playoff-caliber team, but it did speak to the fact that no opponent could take a win over Philadelphia for granted.

"I don't think there were many teams that came in and felt like they could get an easy two points playing the Flyers. If you look at our record against the Final Four teams, or even the two teams that are playing in the Stanley Cup final, it was respectable, to say the least. I do think there's been some incredible growth in that regard," Jones said.

"I think some of the disappointment and the losses at the end of the season is going to be something that our players carry with them. I think it's going to be valuable for them. We didn't lose to the best teams in the league. We lost to some of the worst teams in the league. It wasn't playoff teams ramping up their play and taking advantage of us. It was us overlooking the opponents that were playing. There's valuable lessons in that."

The Flyers still had a chance at a playoff spot entering the 82nd and final game of the 2023-24 regular season. At the same time, Jones and Hilferty cautioned that the 2023-24 season was not a typical season in terms of the cutoff point for making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

The Washington Capitals claimed the final playoff spot in the East in 2023-24 (via a tiebreaker edge over the Detroit Red Wings) with 91 points. Normally, it takes at least 95 points -- sometimes even more -- to earn a wildcard spot in the playoffs.

Come next season, the Flyers' aim is to further the growth they showed in 2023-24. However, the bigger-picture goal is not to squeak into the playoffs one year and then yo-yo back down out of the playoffs the next. The Flyers went through that very experience annually during the mid-to-late-2010s. There is no desire to repeat it.

Jones and Hilferty reiterated several times that the No. 1 focus is still the long-term goal of getting back to a stature where it's not a question of making the playoffs but of how far the team can go once the postseason rolls around.

In the immediate term, the Flyers will try to organically improve enough next season to better their 87-point output from 2023-24. But it will not be done at the expense of the longer-term objectives.

"Honestly, on the business side, I'd love for us to make the playoffs but it's not how in my role I'm measuring the success of what these three leaders are doing, led by Jonesy," Hilferty said, referring to Briere and head coach John Tortorella in addition to Jones.