It has been difficult and frustrating to be a Flyers fan lately. Not just this season but since June 23, 2011 as far as I am concerned. The day the organization traded Mike Richards. The Flyers decided they needed a ‘star goalie’ following that debacle against Boston earlier in the spring. I remember seeing Snider’s face after the sweep and it was obvious changes were in the picture. What’s done is done and Bryzgalov is gone. It was and will remain the worst acquisition ever made by the Flyers. It also goes to show a contract does not mean much in Philly. Not with Paul Holmgrem around anyway. Carter, Richards, Brière and Bryzgalov were all given long term contracts and yet the team roster keeps changing year after year. This is not the way to win a championship. Except for the New York Yankees and some soccer teams in Europe I don’t recall any professional team that bought a championship.
No matter what the outcome of the 2013-14 NHL will be for the Philadelphia Flyers the turn of events that occurred in the last month or so could be significant for the future of this franchise. It could result in a much needed change of philosophy since things just did not work out:
1) The fans and the management (hopefully) are finally starting to realize that seeking out to sign every single player available on the market may not be the way to go.
2) Giving more time and opportunities to drafted players and other young players acquired via trades to develop within the organization.
3) Let things go and be patient. Stick with the same roster and adjust with minor trades when and if need be. Be active but be wise. Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make.
Now the question: Is this change of mentality possible with Paul Holmgrem around as GM? I don’t think so. For the owner Ed Snider well I would hope he learned yet another lesson at his age. Those buyouts are costly and he doesn’t like being the target of a bad press. I like the man and I don’t want him gone. Even by natural cause. One thing is for sure he tends to be docile with former players turned coaches or managers. However he will have to replace Holmgrem soon. I’m not sure if there is a special advisor with the team. If there is none there should be one to make sense when the team is in a mess. Every team should have one. Serge Savard was around for the Molson family two summers ago when a desperate Montreal Canadiens team was looking for a GM. Scotty Bowman gave the Blackhawks some kind of direction as team advisor before the two Cups ended up in the Windy City. Detroit has one. L.A. too probably. Decisions need to be taken at another level. Holmgrem does not have to be fired. He can be given another position within the organization. Ron Hextall is back in Philadelphia as assistant GM with a Stanley Cup ring from L.A. and I believe he is next in line to be the general manager of the team. It would only be logical. For a GM, signing, trading and being constantly on the phone with other teams do not serve any purpose unless you have a vision of where the team is going and this is where Holmgrem deeply failed. Laviolette should have been fired after the loss against the Devils in the 2012 playoffs. The short season last year was a disaster for the coach, the team and we witnessed the end of the short Bryz era. Thank you for that. Laviolette most likely asked for a last chance he already had and it did not work in September nor October. That training camp was a waste of time all considered. I think the real 2013-2014 Philadelphia Flyers will show up by December. Lecavalier, Streit and Mason are good additions. Giroux should get in gear as well. Lines have been changed often and there is a new coach. Honestly I don’t expect Craig Berube to be head coach for a long time either. That was too easy of a choice that supports the lack of vision theory. It is tough to become head coach after you have been assistant. It comes to who makes the decisions at the end. And now those who make decisions for the Flyers are not the right people.
The Flyers are not just another team. No one is indifferent to them around the league. This is a winning franchise and their fans expect them to make the playoffs every single year. I have been a fan of the Orange & Black jersey for more than 3 decades. They were down more than once but never out. They will be back.