Posts Tagged ‘ Richards ’

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

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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