Posts Tagged ‘ NHL ’

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

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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.

Hello to the Old and the New


Tonight’s Flyers game introduced another new epoch that the front office had envisioned during the summer of change; first off, it showcased the ability that Jaromir Jagr has to put the puck in the net during games that actually matter. After seeing him score against us for so many years it was a nice change of pace. With two quick snapshot breakaway goals Jagr reaffirmed the notion that he should be feared by defenses around the league when given space, despite his grey hair and wrinkles. His shot, stick handling, and quick bursts of speed are still evident, and will continue to improve thanks to his incessant work ethic, study time, and fervor to be great (late night practices galore). It also re-introduced us to Scott Hartnell. (Yes, believe it or not he is still on the roster) He recently was fortunate enough to replace James Van Riemsdyk on the top scoring line, and partnering up with Giroux and Jagr seems to have reinvigorated his game, which had lost its way as of late.

The move paid off quickly, when Hartnell netted two goals in his second appearance on the line and looked more like a player worth a cap hit above four million dollars instead of the salary dump that many viewed him as early on in the season. (Remember the Nashville rumors?) Keeping Hartnell on the top line is a no brainer if he can keep up his hot streak, but even if his numbers start to dip he could still make his presence felt with his physical play and energy in the dirty areas. He added an element to the former Briere-Leino line that was invaluable to its success, and could prove to be the type of spark plug that boosts everyone on the Giroux line.

In this young season the Flyers have looked great, good, okay, downright horrible, pathetic, uninspired, and above average. No, not all at once, but the team must search for an identity that allows the young skaters to feel comfortable while also taking advantage of their strengths on a regular basis. Laviolette’s system takes time to be implemented and has proven to work in the past, but requires certain attributes and instinctive that may be foreign to rookies.

So what does this Flyers team need to make consistent play a habit? Stability within the roster, strong skating, and a commitment to back checking are always at the top of the list.

Matt Read and Brayden Schenn have both seemed to supplant themselves within the lineup for the foreseeable future, while Harry Zolniercyzk and Zac Rinaldo will likely make the trek from Glens Falls to Philadelphia and back on a regular basis, however one decision is still up in the air. With the time quickly approaching regarding what to do with Sean Couturier, the 18 year old 1st round draft pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft, there are a few possible directions the Flyers can still go with their roster.

There are parties on both sides of the line, whether to send Couturier back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) or keep him up in the NHL, but the one major sticking point is always going to be money. Couturier has a few things to work on, some are tangible like skating and strength, and some are intangible like maturity and patience, but he has proven himself to be worthy of the high draft pick and can certainly hack it in the big time.

However, by pushing him back to Juniors, where he has had back to back 96 point seasons, doing so in 68 games and 58 games respectively, the Flyers can push back his contract another year, making his NHL contract essentially void for this season, and giving another year to the back end, when he will undoubtedly have improved both the tangibles and intangibles in his game.

Overall he’s looked better than Brayden Schenn and certainly sports better stats, but centering a fourth line with Talbot and Shelley could make it harder for the youngster to make a dent during the season. Given the possibilities the Flyers have financially with Couturier in the future it is surprising to keep him up this year, however his impressive play and the recent moves to clear cap space and contract amounts to fit him into this years plans have made it clear that Couturier will be around past the tenth game.

With the season being so fresh, and the book on this Flyers make-up so thin there are few things to go on, but with some chemistry and dependability starting to show the Flyers could be pushing towards the type of year that Ed Snider had envisioned

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.

Rights to Bryzgalov, Now What?


The Flyers new hope between the pipes?


For the Philadelphia Flyers the offseason started shortly after the handshake line on May 6th, for the fans it may have started directly after the all-star break, when the wheels started to fall off of a bus that was previously headed to the Stanley Cup finals. Ever since February rolled around fans have hemmed and hawed regarding the goalie situation more than any other subject surrounding the team.

The organization as a whole has tried to alleviate some of the blame given to that specific position, trying to deflect towards ideas such as numerous injuries, intermittent spouts of lackluster play without explanation, and an overall loss of control or team accountability. The problem with these ideas is simple; none of them will fly with the fans. Goaltending has been a hot button issue for the Flyers since the 88-89 season, before Hextall’s contract issues started to effect his play, but there is a possibility that a savior is on the horizon, or so everyone hopes.

Yesterday the Flyers traded Matt Clarkson, a 2012 3rd round pick, and a conditional pick for the rights to Ilya Bryzgalov.

What does that exactly mean? The Flyers are now the only team that can negotiate a new contract with Bryzgalov until July 1st, a day where he is set to become the cream of the crop of the 2011 free agent class. Making a move to acquire rights to a player is a risky endeavor given the propensity most players have for testing the open market. At the same time, this is not the first time the Flyers have traded for negotiating rights, most recent of which was the move to negotiate with defenseman Dan Hamhuis last off-season. In that instance, a contract was never agreed upon. In theory, the addition of Bryzgalov makes the Flyers a top-tier contender for the Cup next season, but getting to that point is a lot harder than many fans might think; so before everyone rejoices and thanks the Flyers for finally answering their prayers it is a good idea to wait and see what happens at the negotiating table.

Bryzgalov made $4.5 million dollars last season for the Phoenix Coyotes and is easily the biggest reason the team has been competitive over the last two years. Now, at 31, initial reports are that Mr. Bryzgalov wants a 5-year deal somewhere in the range of 30-32 million dollars. That would average out to make him the 5th highest paid goaltender in the league, and the second, or third, depending on money, highest paid Flyer on the team, next to Danny Briere and Kimmo Timonen. With 78 regular season wins over the last two years the contract amount he seeks is not astronomical, but the Flyers aren’t interested in his regular season stats. They currently have a team that finished second in the standings in the regular season, yet they did not finish where they wanted.

Each year the Flyers have excuses due to their consistency to lose when it matters most, in the playoffs. And each offseason the front office makes a collection of moves that will hopefully help the team, without ever really answering the bell on a stud goaltender, for a few reasons. They don’t grow on trees, and they aren’t necessarily required to win a championship these days. Many fans have been screaming for a “legit, playoff experienced goalie”, while at the same time throwing out two prominent names of Tomas Vokoun and Ilya Bryzgalov. Now fans are staring at the possibility of cheering for the latter choice next season, but is that a good thing?

Recently, with a subpar back-end playing in front of him Mr. Bryzgalov has faltered in the playoffs. In 2010 he lost in a first round series that went 7 games, while sporting a 3.44 GAA, which is passable but not superb. In 2011 he was swept in 4 games, with a GAA clip of 4.36 and a save percentage south of 88%, both of which are not good. The Coyotes were certainly not as talented as the Flyers are up front, but their defense was just proven to be suspect, at best, even after you take away the bad goals allowed by Boucher and Bob. Is it worth over six million dollars a year to get a passable playoff goalie? Is it worth dumping a fair amount of cap space to put him between the pipes for 5 years?

If the answer is a resounding yes, which is a forgone conclusion at this point, then some things need to happen in order for the Flyers to create enough cap space to sign Bryzgalov. Offering money to current unrestricted or restricted free agents is going to be tough. That list includes Nikolai Zherdev, Dan Carcillo, Ville Leino, Darroll Powe, Sean O’Donnell, and Brian Boucher. Acquiring cheap replacements for that crop of players is unlikely, putting many of those positions up for grabs amongst the young farm system guys in training camp. Seeing those players go leaves the Flyers with six empty roster spots and a total salary cap hit of $55.65 million next season, $3.75 under the cap.

Depending on the players involved there will need to be two, or three, big dumps of salary to generate enough cap room, fill the necessary voids, and sign Bryzgalov.

Pay attention to the small fact that Briere, Richards, Hartnell, and Timonen have ‘no trade clauses’ in their contract, making them immovable entities. Taking that into account, the easiest solution is to take a player that can generate some trade interest, usually reserved for a younger player, and has a substantial cap hit; namely, Jeff Carter (sorry ladies), and his $5.75 million dollar contract per year. In conjunction with that the possibilities are abound, and could include trading Kris Versteeg, $3.075 million next year, or Matt Carle, $3.45 million next year. Last but not least, there is still the question of Bobrovsky. It is clear that he is in need of some tutelage, but given his age and his $1.75 million dollar annual cap hit, he could be an extremely inviting proposition for a smaller market team that has the luxury of time without as much pressure.

The idea that the Flyers could finally have a true NHL proven talent at goaltender next season is enticing, but there are far too many variables at this given moment to justify throwing a party or prepping the parade floats. A top-level goalie is nice, but only when you can work it into the framework of the team. We don’t live in the pre-salary cap NHL world any longer, despite our constant wishes. While the goalie is the most important piece to the puzzle, there still are many pieces that have to be accounted for. If signing Bryzgalov leaves us a few pieces short than the same outcome is sure to come along next offseason.

Contract disputes might leave Bryzgalov in the dark

What We Learned


Game 1 of the 2011 Flyers vs. Bruins series started off with a proverbial thud for the home team, but what can the coach, the team, and the fans take from the whipping?

Forget the irrelevant. In a pregame interview with NBC, 43-year-old Mark Recchi, a former Flyer and current Bruin, said that the Bruins players have not been pre-occupied with thoughts of making up for last years blown chance of closing out the Flyers after taking a three games to none lead. “Nearly half of this team wasn’t here last year, so it’s not a big deal to us. We are just focused on this year.” Same old cliché’s from a veteran hockey player who does not want to give his opponent any headlines to post on the bulletin board in the locker room. It is completely understandable for Recchi to not draw attention to the past; but if you believe that the Bruins players haven’t been thinking about a rematch since game-seven ended last year, then you probably have pictures of the Lochness Monster, Big Foot, and the Abominable Snowman hanging up in your room. At the same time, the Flyers can’t think of what happened last year, its not going to help them this time around.

Impose fear and close shooting lanes. The Flyers not only have to match the Bruins physical play, with more than Pronger and JVR answering the call, but they also must sacrifice themselves in front of shots for the sake of the team as much as Boston is willing to do. That does not mean that they should go out and hit everything that moves or lay down in front of every shot taken, it means they have to be physical and smart at the same time.

Stay out of the box. The Bruins power play is basically non-existent, but it was easy to see that penalties kill momentum in one fell swoop, damaging any hopes of building sustained pressure on top of one or two positive plays.

Help out the goalie. It is abundantly clear that Tim Thomas is better than whichever goalie plays for the Flyers. Realizing that fact means that the Flyers defense has to play twice as hard as the Bruins do without the calming sense to rely on in net. Covering open spaces in the slot and behind the net, tying up opponents sticks that have any chance of redirecting a shot, back-checking at a fervent pace, and keeping the odd-man rushes to a minimum are all musts. When the weakness is the goalie the idea is to make it easier on him, not to showcase the biggest flaw even more.

Set up match-ups that work in the Flyers favor. Why is the fourth line playing against the Bruins top line? What has Carcillo done to garner so much love and top-line playing time from the coaching staff? As the home team the Flyers have the ability to get the last change before the puck drops. Even the Bruins coach, Claude Julien, said he wants to keep his top guys away from “certain players” on the Flyers bench. Well he only gets the ability to set that up in three games this series, other than that he has to try and react to what Laviolette does. Take advantage of it!

Ultimately, this playoff series will involve the athlete’s body, heart, and determination more than his ability with his stick. Some Flyers players didn’t figure that out before Game 1 was out of reach.

‘All About Bob’ to ‘What About Bob’ in 24 Hours


Five goals against Ryan Miller is no easy task.

The Philadelphia Flyers offense came alive in game two of their round one match-up with the Buffalo Sabres. The only problem was that the Sabres were able to match the Flyers throughout their first period onslaught, making the difference between game one and game two about as opposite as possible. For lack of a better comparison, it was night and day.

Bobrovsky was pulled in the first period after allowing three goals on seven shots. Awful? Absolutely, but it is not as though the outing was impossible to rebound from, especially considering the ability that Bob has shown this season to bounce back from losses and play well.

Tonight Brian Boucher will start in net. After a solid performance in his game two substitution and a general rumor that the players like to play in front of Boucher more than Bob it is not surprising that game three features the veteran goalie starting between the pipes. What is surprising is the backup situation. Naturally one would assume that Bob would simply put on a hat, take a seat and work the bench’s door, waiting for his time to avenge himself.

So much for that thought! Michael Leighton has been named the backup goalie for the first away game for the Flyers. I will give you some time to put your eyes back in your skulls and close your jaw. Once again, Leighton is the backup for game three. A player who has faced 36 NHL level shots this season, where he allowed 4 goals against in his only appearance, and was subsequently sent down to the Phantoms for some “conditioning training”.

Sporting a 2.22 goals against average and a 93 percent save percentage sounds impressive, except when you take into account it was all done in the AHL, the minor league. Add to that the fact that he only went 14-12 and his promotion from Phantoms starter to backup goalie for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations boggles the mind. Let’s be honest, the last vivid memory Flyers fans have of this guy is the soft goal he let up against Patrick Kane that allowed the Blackhawks to skate away with the Cup in the Flyers building. If something happens to Boucher can he really be counted on after a third of a year in the AHL and that memory surely in his head?

Peter Laviolette is a great coach, a king of the timeout in last years playoff run, and trusts Leighton ever since he picked him up off of waivers from Carolina last season, but this decision not only influences this season, but many to come. If the Flyers view Bobrovsky as a possible NHL stud goaltender down the line they should strongly question this decision internally.

Not allowing the kid to prove himself will become a detriment to his overall confidence level and may eventually come back to bite the organization in the rear.

That being said, hopefully Boucher finds his playoff magic, Leighton will not have to be used, and everyone can celebrate a spirited effort in a Flyers victory tonight.