Archive for the ‘ Hockey ’ Category

Open Letter to John Saunders


While watching ‘The Sports Reporters’, John Saunders, during his segment entitled ‘parting shots’, had a lot to say about the NHL and its handling of Sidney Crosby, as well as the game of hockey as a whole. The minute editorial piece can be seen here, http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=7286389. He urged his audience to respond to his segment, which I felt compelled to do. Here is my response.

John,

Your ‘parting shot’ segment on the November 27th show demonstrated two major problems that ESPN and it’s litany of analysts have. One, no one in Bristol has any real insight to the game of hockey, and two, whenever hockey is talked about there is way too much emphasis placed on changing the game, instead of trying to understand the way it is played. Sidney Crosby came back to the Penguins starting roster this week, and in related news there were 29 other teams that had players who battled for their team. Crosby is one in a number of all-star caliber players to lace them up night in and night out for a league that has a marketing problem. Should the game of hockey have a rules change so that the game gets less physical? No, every player knows that the game of hockey is physical, and has been since they first started to love the sport.

Why bring up Super Mario? He had non-hodgkin’s lymphoma and missed three years. How is that related to a head injury in the slightest? On that note, how is Tom Brady’s knee injury related to any type of head injury? You can protect the QB in football because the QB is not expected to be able to take hits. Hockey players don’t have the luxury to be protected in a bubble. You claim that there was once a double standard to save stars from the onslaught of hits. When was this? For decades the NHL has had one way to deter players from going after stars, enforcers. Gretzky had a slew of them, as did Messier, and every other big name star. They are on the team to protect the star and go after any opposing player who threatens him. And this type of thought process was used in the old NHL, before the rules changed to allow finesse players more room on the ice. This rules change was thought to cut down on big hits, but unfortunately it has caused many players to keep their head down and get rattled more frequently. Big hits are an NHL mainstay, and unless the players get smarter about keeping their heads up during a play they will continue. It’s not something where a rules change needs to occur. It’s a physical game, and if the players aren’t interested in it they can go try their hand at football.

Have you ever actually watched a hockey game that did not feature a player named Crosby or Ovechkin? With names like Stamkos, Toews, Giroux, Iginla, Tavares, the Sedin twins, etc. the NHL talent pool is deep, and none of them are complaining about being hit while playing. The NHL front office can be blamed for the fact that many of the countries half-hearted hockey fans do not know these players, but your job is to know more than the typical fan. Your job is to try and understand how hockey is played, instead of just pandering to your executives who insist that you say something about Crosby, despite the fact that you truly have no idea what to say.

My services are always available. Trust me, you need them.

Thank you for your time,

Adam

In Nee(D) of Help


Trade rumors are an everyday occurrence in sports and the Philadelphia Flyers are no different than anyone else. Sometimes a change of scenery is all a player needs to boost him to play at a higher level. That is the reasoning that propels many trades in the National Hockey League involving veterans. It’s not always that easy, which is why the success rate when bringing someone in is not always great, remember Kris Versteeg in Philadelphia, but the Flyers try to make moves to better their team during the season almost every year, and, once again this year, a move is imminent. Although it seems to have been put on hold currently.

The backline for the Flyers is stagnant, in need of a definite change to spark some life to it, but is there a viable option in the trade market? Being near the top in the league in scoring is great, however when coupled with ranking in the lower third for goals against it doesn’t help win playoff games, let alone championships.

Erik Gustafsson offered the team some much-needed options, both on the rink and in the front office. With his emergence on the rink as a quality NHL level defensemen the Flyers were rumored to be shopping around Matt Carle, once a stalwart on the blue line when paired with Chris Pronger, who is now plagued by constant turnovers and lackluster effort. The plan seemed to be working smoothly and trading Carle for another defensive option was clearly the way the front office wanted to go, but Gustafsson subsequently injured his wrist and has been placed on long term injured reserve, effectively ending any trade moves for at least 6 weeks.

With more time to stew about the current roster while watching opponents cut through the defense with ease the need gets increasingly more evident from game to game. Whether the Flyers want to bring in a promising young talent or a wily old veteran is moot, something needs to happen for this team to have consistent showings in the future. But, that being said, there’s no reason we can’t speculate. Here are the best possible defensemen that could use a change of scenery.

 Johnny Oduya – The Winnipeg Jets are an oddly built team that is looking for depth throughout their roster. Given that realization, Oduya may be available, for the right price. What is that? To get this young defenseman the Flyers would have to part ways with a player like Brayden Schenn.

 Luke Schenn – If the Flyers are willing to part with their own Schenn, swapping Brayden for his older brother, defenseman Luke Schenn from the Toronto Maple Leafs, should be high on their list. Luke is having a much-maligned start to his 2011-12 season and catching a lot of grief for it in Toronto. Creating a need for a fresh start in a new city.

 Shea Weber – The biggest fish in the small pond of available defenseman is Weber, Nashville’s blue chipper who had to go through arbitration to get his current contract, a one-year deal. Getting him in mid-season would cost more than the Flyers are willing to part with, but it would be a gigantic splash. Remember when Scott Hartnell was on the trading block and was then moved to the Giroux/Jagr line. There are plenty of players that can flourish in that scenario, and Hartnell’s stock has risen because of it.

 Ryan Suter – If the waters aren’t warm for Weber, the Flyers should inquire about Suter, another Nashville defenseman who is rumored to be on the trading block, along with Weber, but at a considerably cheaper rate. The Predators can’t afford both players, so depending on whom they want to keep the other will be available.

 Johnny Boychuck – The Bruins are stout defensively and could part with Boychuck. A physical blue liner that could add another right-handed slap shot to the power play is always a welcomed addition.

 Cory Sarich – There have been rumblings that Sarich is on his way out in Calgary after being a healthy scratch in five straight games. He is the epitome of tough and doesn’t seem to fit anywhere in the Flames roster. A move should be on the horizon for him, at relatively cheap costs.

12 Ideas for the NHL in 2012


Clearly the NBA learned nothing from the NHL over the last few seasons. The NHL had a lockout that nearly crippled the league in more ways than one. Not only were games and TV contracts lost, arenas left empty, and countless marketing dollars nowhere to be found, but the reputation of the league was tarnished, only to be slowly creeping back to pre-lockout levels now, a full six years after the fact.

While NBA owners and players argue over three percent of the share of the league they threaten to give the same fate to a league that saw record numbers watch the playoffs and championship series. Whether fans watched because they rooted for Dirk and the Mavs or hoped that Lebron, D-Wade, and Chris Bosh would simultaneously break their legs is irrelevant.

Their sport was hot, and now they’re digging their own grave; news that could be great for hockey fans. Key word – could.

In the wake of their stupidity stands the NHL, a league prime to capitalize on millions of fans who’s TV’s are tuned to less than exciting comedies, dramas, and reality television shows. The huge question is how.

People watch baseball and basketball because they grew up playing it. A basketball is 20 bucks and there are hoops almost everywhere, and the only things baseball requires is a glove, a ball, and a friend. Hockey will never be able to compete on that level, but implementing more youth programs around the country, mirroring the efforts made in Philadelphia by the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, could, at the very least, help put a stick in kids hands more often than not. Coupled with that is an across the board understanding that our countries economical future is uncertain and at present is downright shameful, therefore prices should be lowered for equipment and rink time. Money for expensive equipment is simply not an option these days, but there is no reason that multi-million dollar companies can’t help out with programs that are supplemented by NHL teams and owners.

As it stands now the NHL is obviously failing in the way it markets. Ask 100 people in any shopping mall in the country and there are two names that every person will recognize. Outside of Crosby and Ovechkin people will struggle, which leads us to idea number two; Gary Bettman needs to step down as commissioner. I’m aware that this is not going to happen, but the second part of this idea is much more practical. Bring in a marketing guy, preferably someone with a background of transforming a mediocre product into something people talk about. Apple did it; the UFC did it, why can’t the NHL do it?

That being said, marketing players requires marketing personality, something that hockey players are not necessarily oozing with. In addition to hiring a marketing guy idea three would have to include teaching players to be more comfortable in their newfound celebrity. Whether it is on television, at signings, at restaurants, or anywhere that fans can be influenced by their attitudes and charisma; the players need to learn how to step up and take charge of recruiting fans to the sport.

24/7 was a major step forward in trying to showcase the personalities the NHL has, in addition to the talent on the ice, however it is on HBO, immediately shrinking the possible viewing audience by nearly 70 percent of households. A reality show was a great idea, one that I’m sure Bettman did not come up with, but idea four is a caveat onto this; try to get a behind the scenes show, much like 24/7, on basic cable. Will it be as vulgar and over the top? No, but it will have the possibility to be seen by a much larger audience. That’s the point.

The next idea is in much the same vein as the last. The NHL and its TV contract department must do whatever needs to be done to get off of Versus, or NBC Sports, or NBC International, or whatever it is they want to call themselves in 2012, and onto a real network. It doesn’t matter if it’s less revenue to start, revenue will be made up in other areas when more fans are converted. Considering the fact that ESPN2 shows crossfit games I’m sure they have the market share time for the NHL, especially with a litany of NBA timeslots to fill, creating a golden opportunity for the NHL.

Being on a network with the reach and reputation like ESPN and its family is a plus, but people still aren’t going to magically turn the dial, they need a reason, and what better reason than feuding teams, players, coaches, cities, etc. Americans love feuds almost as much as train wrecks, so give them one. Ok, fabricating hatred between teams or individuals is bad, but the Crosby vs. Ovechkin feud was programming gold. With the way hockey players are, nothing needs to be made up, just encourage their own animosity to come out both on the ice and off of it. Those feelings could not only fuel better ratings, but could also stimulate the players to play just that much harder.

With feuds, growing animosity, and a sure hatred that some teams have for others there is sure to come more physicality, one thing that hockey cannot live without but has decided to try and lessen in recent years. Hockey needs hitting, it needs fighting, and it needs the threat of something happening to a grinder if he goes after a star. Ground rules are also necessary; let’s get this straight, hockey isn’t bare knuckle boxing, but it isn’t pillow fighting. The NHL has to realize that they can’t push fighting to the brink of extinction and claim it as a positive step forward. The lack of fighting, or the threat of fighting, is directly connected to the incessant amount of boarding calls, cheap shots, illegal checks, hits to the head, and dangerous plays. Fighting needs to be an integral part of the game for the game to survive. The game would actually be safer with it playing a bigger role. And let’s not misconstrue the viewing public’s taste, people love to watch violence, it’s just taboo to admit it in the world of hockey these days. MMA seems to be capitalizing on the blood lust just fine.

With the re-implementation of fighting, the league must also repeal the instigator rule. Doing so will not only further encourage the physical players to fight each other, but will also help get rid of the bad penalties that currently riddle the league. In addition to this change the league must also establish written rules regarding the headshots, boarding, intent to injure, and hits to a defenseless player penalties that I continue to complain about.

Most of the rule changes listed here require players to be more prepared to take on an even more daunting physical battle night after night. Two things that the NHL can do to combat that side effect are, one, to play less games on the schedule. This not only will keep players fresher throughout a grueling season, but will also make every game truly mean something. Two, league officials must also contact hockey companies regarding the equipment that they are making. For years the idea was to continue to “improve” players padding by making every piece of equipment larger, harder, and stronger. This design is more of a flaw than anything else. These days players are already bigger, stronger, and faster, and now strapped with padding that enables them to hit another person with virtually no pain to themselves means that they are less like hockey players and more like American gladiators. By making padding bigger hockey companies created more concussion problems for the players. It’s time to reduce them.

The last rule change is the most drastic. The NHL should adopt something that European soccer leagues have been doing for years. If a team, or two for that matter, underperforms in the NHL they should be sent down to the AHL for the next season. This would increase the probability that the players will give it their all towards the end of the season given the realization that there is no longer “nothing to play for”. They’re literally playing for their job, a motivation tactic that could increase viewership despite a team being underwhelming all year long.

All of these changes, when combined, have the possibility to increase popularity of the NHL, while at the same time helping to save players from nasty concussion problems that currently plague it’s most popular player.

Yes, I realize that none of them will ever actually happen.

40 Gets You WHAT!?!?


I guess Carter and Richards taught him well...before they left.


We are all led to believe that life works the same for everyone. Go to school to learn a trade, and then eventually, after proving your self worth to a company willing to hire you for said trade, you will be paid accordingly, based on your worth to the company and your proficiency at the chosen craft. But wouldn’t it be nice to leave school and get paid for what your employer thinks you’re capable of, instead of the base salary amount?
It’s simple to change the path, all you have to do is become a professional athlete and that dream will become your reality.

Professional sports stars are paid in such a way that undermines the basic ideology of how our country works. Highly touted rookies’ contracts routinely crack the multi-million dollar figure despite the fact that they’ve proved nothing, and with incentives and endorsements it’s a guarantee that the pockets in their soon to be sewn custom suits will need to be made bigger than normal, along with their credit limit.

The recent signing of James VanRiemsdyk can be lumped into this category as well. While JVR is not a rookie, one good postseason, consisting of 2 series, coupled with an average regular season campaign, in which he scored 40 points total, does not add up to a six-year, 25.5 million dollar extension. Well it doesn’t for everyone but the Philadelphia Flyers.

What do Eric Belanger, Sergei Samsonov, Simon Gagne, Lauri Korpikoski, David Booth, and Mike Knuble have in common? That’s the offensive company that JVR has in the 40-point club this past year, none of which jump off the page. So how did JVR earn such a lucrative contract in the new penny-pinching, salary cap stricken NHL? Potential? Possibly. If he comes out this year and scores 50 goals while leading the team deep into the playoffs the Flyers front office will look like geniuses. Paul Holmgren could write his own checks at that point. More of a probability is the fact that the Flyers looked into their crystal ball and realized that they don’t have a legitimate, youthful, big-time scoring threat on their roster besides the hopes of JVR.

The deepest team in the league last year has gotten slimmer and older rather quickly. Leading goal scorer, gone. Second place is 33. Third is more of a playmaker than a sniping threat. Fourth leading scorer is just plain lucky, and fifth place is gone. They already gave massive amounts of rubles to the new goalie, what else are they going to do with money that seems to be burning a hole in their bank account? Overpay for a right-winger seems to have been high on their summer to-do list.

The move still urges fans to jump on each side of the proverbial fence; are you a fan of the deal or are you not? If you are, chances are high that it is because you have been drinking the same kool-aid as the front office, effectively drilling the belief that JVR will grow into one of the strongest scoring threats that this league has to offer into your mind. If you are skeptical, you are not alone. With a bigger cap hit than Claude Giroux, who is widely viewed as the Flyers most talented player, the deal comes with question marks. However, Giroux’s deal does not bypass his immediate year of eligibility for unrestricted free agency the way JVR’s does. Translation, Giroux’s next contract will come sooner, be much larger, and may include more bidders than just the Flyers.

While it is a lot of money for a presumably unproven high draft pick from a few years back, the fact of the matter is that the money is there, and with no where else to put it why not take a roll of the dice? With the departure of Richards and Carter the management has successfully proven that contract amounts and lengths do not matter to them in the slightest, and will undoubtedly try to rectify their potential mistake by shipping him out of town if the need eventually arises.

Translation, a JVR jersey is just as safe as a Richards one was.

How Soon Until They’re ‘Gellin’?


Who's name will appear on the back?

After an offseason that contained more fireworks than every Fourth of July celebration in the area combined, the expectations surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers next season are up in the air. The star staples that became synonymous with the orange and black are gone, a true number one, albeit high-priced, goaltender has arrived, and currently an unfinished roster complete with possible young guns, veterans, and ultra-veterans hoping to make the team are what Flyers fans have to look forward to. With great potential the question naturally arises, what can be constituted as a successful season?

Obviously the goal for every team is to win the Cup, but with a revamped roster is a parade down Broad Street the only thing that will appease fans? What if the team is competitive and loses in the Conference Finals? There is really no telling how talented this team will be, how players will fit together, or how much chemistry the new additions can create during camp and pre-season action, but that never stops anyone from guessing.
With many new faces the lines are surely going to be shuffled multiple times throughout the first half of the season as players start to gel with each other and productivity is determined, but how should the forwards’ lines look to start?

It’s no secret that this roster is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, and depending on whether or not Michael Nylander can make the team will most likely determine who centers the Jagr line. Don’t forget, the two were linemates with the Rangers and the Capitals and were a great pair, but Nylander is 38 years old and coming off of season-ending surgery last year. If he makes the team, Brayden Schenn will have to wait a little longer to don the famous Flyers sweater, instead skating in Phantoms purple to start the season.

Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell will probably stick together and look to add a player like Maxime Talbot to the mix. Talbot can offer a mix of finesse with hustle and scrappiness; traits that can work well coupled with Hartnell in the corners and will give Briere more space in his office, behind the net. Claude Giroux and James Van Riemsdyk, two players who look to have a lot of scoring possibilities thanks to Giroux’s pass first mentality and JVR’s wish to shoot from anywhere on the ice, will look to stay together as well. A physical presence added to that line is the most logical of choices. Look for high energy forward Wayne Simmonds to be given a shot. Simmonds has the ability to play physical but has showed the possibility of scoring in the past. Playing with Giroux and JVR could translate into a twenty-goal season for Simmonds for the first time in his career.

Nylander centering a line of Jaromir Jagr and Jakub Voracek is a possibility, but Schenn could be implanted to replace Nylander depending on training camp. Jagr will most likely be called upon to push Voracek’s game forward, while simultaneously being a crutch for the young European, given the fact that they are from the same hometown in the Czech Republic. The fourth line could once again feature Blair Betts and Andreas Nodl, with an open door policy for the other wing position. Eric Wellwood and Ben Holmstrom could both snag the last forward position with stellar play in camp, but a more likely alternative is split time for both.

Head coach Peter Laviolette will undoubtedly see things differently in camp and will pair different players together a head scratching number of times before he sees a connection that works for his system, but if this mock-up turns out to be accurate an assistant coach offer should be in the mail!

Ok, I’ll settle for free tickets.

What’s With all the Black and Gold


As with many fans of the Philadelphia Flyers I waited with baited breath on July 1st. I waited, and waited, and waited some more. In fact I’m still waiting for the organization to make that one big move that everyone was sure would come. Perhaps not to the levels of Steven Stamkos, but maybe Ales Hemsky or Paul Stastny or another player on that level. After all, there had to have been someone the flyers brass were targeting, right? It seems as if that was common knowledge.

After bidding adieu to Mike Richards and Jeff Carter my Philadelphia Flyers t-shirt collection has been dwindling. I have been forced to retire my previous sweaters and players’ shirts emblazoned with their names due to common fandom rules. If there is any reason for a big move to be made it is clearly my wardrobe, well and for the team to get better, but that is obviously second.

First came the news that no offer would be made to Steven Stamkos, arguably the second or third best player in the league. Given the price tag to acquire him, and the subsequent truckload of money it would take to sign him to a long-term contract it was an easy pill to swallow. Then came reports that the Flyers were one of the frontrunners to land Jaromir Jagr.

Jaromir Jagr

Was I supposed to gasp? They were going to possibly sign a guy who has over 600 career goals and nearly a thousand assists in his NHL career, how could that news not be exciting?

Because Jagr is not Teemu Selanne, a player in the twilight of his NHL years but is still a stud. He’s not even Niklas Lidstrom caliber these days. Granted, Lidstrom is a defenseman, but the point is that he cannot lead a team any which way you slice it. There is a reason Jagr played in Russia. You might be saying that that reason is his desire to play in his home country, but the simple fact that he signed a one year deal to play for the Flyers immediately disproves that notion. Add to the over-the-hill comments the understanding that Jagr was a Penguin, and will always be remembered as a Penguin, and you have a bigger reason for dislike. Sure, he was a Ranger for a quick second among a few other quick layovers, but don’t act like it won’t be weird when Jagr dons his number 68 orange and black sweater and you are asked to cheer.

That was the biggest hurdle I had to jump in order to be okay with the signing, and just about the time I came to grips with the idea, the Flyers decided to sign another Penguin. Not a “once beloved” penguin, or a former penguin, but Maxime Talbot. Paul Holmgren must have been playing a joke. He scored two goals in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals to bring the Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh, but outside of that is there a Talbot highlight of him playing hockey that I’ve missed? I understand that he had a few quality segments in HBO’s 24/7, but that doesn’t exactly convey greatness. This is the same guy who fought Dan Carcillo and then put his finger up to his mouth to silence the Philadelphia crowd before the penguins came back from three goals down to win; he is now a Flyer, and everyone seems to be okay with that.

Really?

Yes, really. I’ve said it before and it still rings true, as fans we have to cheer when our team tries to make itself better. We cheer, scream, throw things, lose our voices, waste our money, and dissect every pass, shot, and hit the players make because we want to be watching hockey in June. We want to be able to wear a Flyers shirt proudly in the beginning of summer and all the way through until next season.

Maxime Talbot


Talbot and Jagr are not the sexiest choices that were available, but their mix of veteran knowhow and playoff leadership may help propel the team to new heights. With a large make-up of young talent these types of men are a necessity, and will hopefully make their money as much in the locker room as they do on the rink. When you spend your time looking at the box score of the game this upcoming season you will not be getting the entire story. Talbot is scrappy, a quality that goes for miles in Philadelphia sports allure, and Jagr is a rental that might work out nicely for a quick jolt to the top of the heap. Most important, they’ve been there before, something you cannot put a price on. Maybe it is a Talbot speech that will help the Flyers overcome a hole to come back in the third period to win a game, or maybe it is Jagr’s prowess with the puck in tight spaces that will help vault Brayden Schenn’s young career to new heights when given free space. Their productivity is beyond points per game or plus/minus numbers, and at some point we will all understand that. Hopefully in the playoffs.

Talbot Hoisting the Cup


The signings took a while to get used to, and seeing Jagr in a Flyers jersey will be weird for quite some time, especially when flashbacks of him in black and gold drift into my memory, but with the absence of any big move you have to be okay with the idea that the Flyers are building this team the right way, without suckering themselves into big contracts. Maybe they still have a trick up their sleeve regarding the eventual destination of Sergei Bobrovsky, but for now we can just sit and ponder what is to come.

Although my closet is a little mad at them for waiting.

Melrose quality Mullet

Blowing Up and Starting Over


New homes for Carter and Richards, far away from one another.

It must have been a dream.

Price check on item numbers 17 and 18, again that’s price check on #17 and #18. Is the “store” crazy to sell the two lynchpins of their franchise at the same time for a seemingly discounted rate? This is the best sale of the century!

In fact it was not a dream at all, it is simply the tale of the Philadelphia Flyers’ moves in 28 hours leading up to the NHL entry draft, told from the perspective of anyone who has not had the proverbial “privilege” of being a flyers fan. Trading away two players that were touted to be the cornerstones of a franchise may seem brash, and in some circles even downright stupid, but the move to part ways with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter will pay dividends this year and for years to come. Two players, two long-term contracts, countless headaches by every fan, and zero Stanley Cups in the trophy case at the Wells Fargo Center with this group seems to have worn down the effervescent Ed Snider to a point of no return. Reasons that forced the chairman to inform GM Paul Holmgren to get rid of the two players he once stated he would take over Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Maybe it’s not the play of Richards and Carter that can be blamed for the lack of results in this most recent playoff run; however, wearing the C on your sweater automatically pushes you to the front of the line in the pecking order when a finger needs to be pointed, and wearing the A means you aren’t far down that line. The goalie was an easy scapegoat for everyone to place blame on regarding the failures this season, and despite believing that Sergei Bobrovsky will eventually be a solid goaltender in the NHL, the Philadelphia Flyers tried to set the record straight, they aren’t okay with ‘eventually’. In three swift moves on one day the Flyers freed up cap space, freed themselves from two hefty contracts, got younger, acquired a future stud in Brayden Schenn, and locked up the cream of the free agent goalie crop, Ilya Bryzgalov for an exorbitant amount of time, and got better in the process.

Brayden Schenn, a highly touted youngster


If you were previously unsure, the name of the game is winning ‘now’, it always has been for this organization. They’ve just become accustomed to coming up short. Mid-season pick-ups, off-season maneuvers, and the outwardly constant shuffle of coaches have made that abundantly clear. The organization wants to win and were previously willing to do a good amount to try and make that happen. They have now proven that they are willing to do anything. Re-working the top of the line-up to accommodate the signing of Bryzgalov was not a necessity, but has been done with the overall purpose of re-formulating the game plan in an effort to hoist the Cup.

They could have taken the most logical path and traded away Carter, a move that would not have shocked many Flyers fans, in order to make room for the goaltender we so desperately needed. Instead they decided to give the 2011-12 Flyers a new identity, from the top down, by trading Richards along with the aforementioned Carter. Logical? Not exactly. Gutsy? You bet. If it all works out then the empty feeling that some fans had when they heard the news will be forgotten, replaced with joyous praise and multiple hugs, from people who don’t normally give hugs, once they see the big shiny Cup paraded down Broad St.

The idea that the Flyers are now better than they were with Richards and Carter is debatable, and obviously is rather hard to prove given the lack of finality that this roster currently has, or the understanding that they have yet to play a game. That being said, the constant question of “who is leading this team?” is now gone. The laid back attitude that both players seemed to have regarding losses, a trait that was nauseating to a fan base that detested even the idea of losing, is gone.

What is now added is the stress of figuring out a roster that is presently unfinished. There is still a fair amount of cap space, and there are more moves that need to occur to help round out the roster; but isn’t it nice that the Flyers finally have some wiggle room? For a team that is notorious for running their cap up to the ceiling, and sometimes being forced to sign college kids to 24 hour deals, having the ability to pick and choose what to do next is a welcomed change, and could be the remedy that they need.

With a new Captain, most likely Chris Pronger, and a group of young players that will be asked to step into the spotlight, like Claude Giroux and James Van Riemsdyk, this Flyers team has the opportunity to exceed expectations. There are sure to be some growing pains when players are asked to take on strange roles while the team takes on a different identity, but as the team moves forward, having the ability to make necessary moves and round out a roster the right way gives the Flyers a better chance now than before.

That’s the point, right?

It's their team now