Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider has
the earned reputation of a man who does not take losing lightly.
In light of that fact, with the way the Flyers have been playing lately, Mr.
Snider's employees would be wise to fear for their job security.
The fact that Snider hates losing has made him a larger-than-life character
during his 40-plus years with the Flyers, but that trait hasn't helped
Philadelphia win a Stanley Cup title since it claimed back-to-back titles in
the mid 1970s.
Snider's no-nonsense attitude might be comforting for Flyers fans if
Philadelphia was one firing away from figuring things out, but, alas, there
doesn't seem to be an easy solution for a team that's 12-15-1 and hasn't won
more than two games in a row at any point this season.
Philadelphia's helplessness to find a quick fix to its problems was on full
display Tuesday night in New Jersey. At the start of an important home-and-
home series with the rival Devils, the Flyers came out flat and fell behind
3-1 in the first period en route to a deflating 5-2 loss.
Following the latest setback, Flyers players offered up votes of confidence
for their head coach and general manager, who could both feel Snider's wrath
if things don't change soon. With his team sitting tied for last in the
Atlantic Division with the New York Islanders and out of a playoff spot,
Snider may start the head-rolling process as soon as this weekend, especially
if the Flyers don't show some life in Friday's finale against the Devils.
Considering the way the club is currently spinning its wheels, it's hard to
believe this is a franchise less than three years removed from a run to the
Stanley Cup Finals in the spring of 2010. Then again, when you look at how few
players are left in Philly from that run and how the ones who departed are
doing, maybe it isn't such a mystery after all.
No one can ever question the Flyers' desire to win, but the way the club goes
about chasing a Stanley Cup title can be dizzying to say the least. With
Snider at the helm, the organization seems incapable of doing anything other
than charging full bore at that elusive third championship, leaving prudence
and common sense in the dust.
The go-for-it attitude has cost the franchise dearly over the last few
seasons, most notably with the decision to bring in high-priced goaltender
Ilya Bryzgalov via free agency and to move centerpiece forwards Mike Richards
and Jeff Carter after a disappointing run in the 2011 postseason. The fact
that all of those decisions came on the same day tells you how quickly things
can change when things aren't going the Flyers' way.
Bryzgalov has been up-and-down during his time in Philadelphia and is known
more nationally for his entertainingly odd postgame interviews than his puck-
stopping skills. Still, it's not all Bryz's fault the Flyers are where they
are right now, three games under .500 and fighting just to stay in the Eastern
Conference playoff conversation.
It would be nice to be able to blame one person -- like Bryzgalov or head
coach Peter Laviolette or general manager Paul Holmgren -- for Philadelphia's
disappointing season, but as usual, there's more to it than that.
That's not to say the Flyers shouldn't buy out Bryz this summer or even fire
Laviolette and/or Holmgren. All of those things would make perfect sense
considering the disparity between where this team is at and where the front
office thinks it should be, but there are other ways of turning things around
besides getting rid of a bunch people when things don't go as planned.
Since Snider isn't firing himself, he needs to at least consider the fact that
reshuffling the deck every few years may not be the best way to build a
winner. The constant push for a title has produced loads of playoff
appearances and six unsuccessful trips to the Stanley Cup Finals since the
Orange and Black won the second of consecutive championships in the spring of
1975, but at some point you'd think the idea of committing to an old-fashioned
rebuilding phase would gain traction.
At times, the Flyers have given off mixed signals as to whether they're
rebuilding or going for it. The events of June 23, 2011 is a perfect example
because even though Philadelphia brought in Bryzgalov for nine years and $51
million, they also dealt Carter and Richards to Columbus and Los Angeles,
respectively, for a sizeable haul of talented, yet unproven, youngsters. Of
course, Bryz's contract meant the Flyers may have liked those young players'
small contracts even more than the prospects themselves.
The fact that Richards and Carter, who was dealt to Los Angeles midway through
the 2011-12 season, already won a Cup together with the Kings should've been
an omen to the franchise to be patient with its own talent. After all, Kings
general manager Dean Lombardi had years to build his team via the draft before
making a big splash with trades for guys like Richards and Carter.
But the Flyers showed they had done little to heed the lessons hidden in their
own mistakes again in the summer of 2012 when they dealt winger James van
Riemsdyk to Toronto for defenseman Luke Schenn. While van Riemsdyk is at 14
goals and counting for the Maple Leafs this season, Schenn is part of a
retooled, but still ineffective Flyers defense.
All indications point to the fact that the Bryz signing and trading of Carter
and Richards were direct orders from Snider to Holmgren. If Snider in turn
fires Holmgren for the results of those decisions, there's little hope
anything will change for the better in the Flyers' front office.
Snider is a Hockey Hall of Famer who has done a tremendous amount of good for
the city of Philadelphia, but in recent years his desire to see another
championship seems to have clouded his sense of what is best for his hockey
With so much movement in and out of Philadelphia in recent years, maybe the
best bet in order to get the Flyers out of this rut is acknowledging that
always going for it isn't necessarily a noble pursuit. Being aggressive is not
a bad quality, but it shouldn't be the only weapon in one's arsenal.
Nobody thinks Snider and the Flyers are failing to achieve their goals because
they're not trying hard enough.
Maybe if things continue to get worse in 2013 the team will finally realize
that patience should always be a top priority when attempting to build
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