June 24, 2011 1 Comment
Let’s say you’re on a road trip with your family from New York to New Mexico. You drive and you drive, and you drive some more. You get to El Paso, and your dad decides to turn the car around, drive back East, and try the trip on a completely different route, because he thinks it’s better. If your family didn’t stage a mutiny before he had the chance to do it, you’d be pretty pissed off the rest of the trip. That’s what Paul Holmgren just did with the Flyers.
Most hockey fans with an idea of what they are talking about believed that the Flyers were one competent goaltender away from winning a Stanley Cup. Well, they’re going to get their goaltender, but they just removed two of the key cogs that helped make the orange machine roll. Most people believed that Ville Leino and Nikolai Zherdev would have to go in order to create the cap space for Ilya Bryzgalov, the Russian goaltender whose days in Phoenix were quite obviously over. Instead, they’ve got Bryzgalov, a team minus two of its best players, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and a prospect. This is a team taking on a whole new image; a team that looks like it’s trying to start something new.
I don’t know if you missed the hockey season that preceded this one, but the Flyers played in the Stanley Cup Finals as a 7th seed, against the Chicago Blackhawks, who had basically stocked the warchest and invested everything they could into winning the cup in 2009-10. Fittingly, the Flyers lost on a weak goal, which really captured the problem in Philadelphia. Goaltending. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter might have been party animals, and that might have made Paul Holmgren mad, but they were not the reason that the Flyers got their butts handed to them by the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Bruins. It was, once again, putrid goaltending, and defense that left a lot to be desired.
For Mike Richards, Los Angeles gave Philadelphia Brayden Schenn, who was its top prospect, and Wayne Simmonds, a solid 2nd or 3rd line scorer, who helps the Flyers maintain some depth. Schenn has scored 315 points in 242 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL, and many believe that he will be a very strong player in the NHL one day. Is one day going to come soon enough for Flyers fans? It’s hard to tell.This is a town that is starving for a cup.
Speaking of one day, that’s what the Flyers are planning for with the 8th pick of this NHL Draft, which they received from Columbus, along with a 3rd rounder, and Jakub Voracek, another mid-line scorer. Maybe Brayden Schenn and Pick #8 will be a dynamic duo that will dazzle Philadelphia in the future, but again, that’s not what Philly was supposed to have been planning for. This trade feels like Paul Holmgren cutting off his nose to spite his face. One of the amusing undertones to this is the fact that Paul Holmgren looks exactly like Jurgen Prochnow, famous for his roles in Das Boot, and the movie that focused on a glass called das boot, Beerfest.
Amidst all of this, they signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a 9 year, $51 million deal. In the last two off-seasons men named Ilya have signed for 26 years and $156 million. That seemed relevant to point out. Bryzgalov’s contract will likely be front-loaded, and when he gets old, the Flyers and him will part ways, with very minimal financial damage to the Flyers, and Ilya having made the lion’s share of the money he could possibly earn in the contract.
There are rumors that the Flyers could be in the market to make a run at a guy like Brad Richards or Steven Stamkos, but that feels like a “pie in the sky” idea. Paul Holmgren looks like a mad scientist if it works out that way, but it’s a lot of eggs in a fragile basket if that’s his plan. All I know is, I feel like somebody should have jumped in front of Paul Holmgren before he finally pulled the trigger on this deal. I don’t think that Philly fans are going to like the end result of this, as they may have just turned themselves into the Phoenix Coyotes of the East. A team with a really strong goaltender, but no player who really terrifies his opponents. Mike Richards was always a threat, Jeff Carter could score from anywhere on the ice. All of that has been sacrificed in order to take a completely different route to the cup.
Welcome to El Paso, Flyers Fans, and I’m sorry to tell you– the car’s turning around.
Steve Sabato is a Staff Writer for Home Field Advantage