May 8, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers left wing Scott Hartnell (19), right wing Wayne Simmonds (17), defenseman Eric Gutsafsson (26), left wing James van Riemsdyk (21), and left wing Eric Wellwood (47) watch as New Jersey Devils players celebrate after game five of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals at the Wells Fargo Center. The Devils defeated the Flyers 3-1, to win the series 4 games to one. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Flyers Need To Reevaluate Approach

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Adam Proteau of The Hockey News took a shot at the Philadelphia Flyers in a recent column.

Proteau called out Flyers’ General manager Paul Holmgren and Owner Ed Snider for their recent turn-style approach of assembling a Stanley Cup-caliber team.

 

“Unfortunately, evidence suggesting constant roster turnover isn’t the ideal way to construct a Stanley Cup-winning product  continues to mount.”

 

When the Flyers made their unlikely run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, the cornerstones of the franchise, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter had each played five seasons with the Orange and Black. The acquisition of defenseman Chris Pronger clearly made a difference, but Richards and Carter were the faces of the franchise. As the 2012-2013 season draws to a close, let’s look at the top two teams left in the playoffs to see how stable their rosters have been.

Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask arguably make up the core of the Boston Bruins, give or take a player. Each man had his name etched into the Cup two years ago. Each player has made a contribution to this year’s run to the Final.

Bergeron, 27, is one of the premier defensive forwards in the game, he already has a Frank J. Selke Trophy and almost won another this year. Zdeno Chara, 36, has been the rock on the blue-line since 2006 and his game-saving block on Evgeni Malkin preserved the Eastern Conference title seeing the sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Chara also took the Norris Trophy home in 2009. Krejci, 27,  a playoff wizard, has played a pivotal role in this year’s Cup run. He was also a key member of the 2011 championship team. Lucic, 25, is a force on the ice with a scoring tough and Marchand, 25,  is a pest who knows how to put up points. Rask, 26,  has come into his own this year in the playoffs with his .942 save percentage, it leads goaltenders in the playoffs and his 1.78 goal against average is second to Chicago’s Corey Crawford.

The Windy City features a young core that is scary-good. Patrick Kane, 24, is one of the top playmakers in the game and has unbelievable hands. Jonathan Toews,25, this year’s Selke Award winner, is one of the best in the world. Patrick Sharp, 31, can snipe with some of the best. Duncan Keith, 29, a Norris Trophy winner, Brent Seabrook, 28, and Corey Crawford, 28, hold down the fort defensively. The average service time each player has spent with their respective club is five seasons. Eliminate Crawford from the mix and you have a group of men that has been together for six years.

In the past six seasons, Boston and Chicago have missed the playoffs once. Both have two conference titles and a Stanley Cup to their name. So what is the difference between these two franchises and the Flyers? You guessed it… Patience.

As Flyer fans, we have been conditioned to demand quick fixes. We are not very patient and want immediate results. The origins of this mindset leads to the big man himself, Ed Snider. Since Snider founded the Orange and Black, the Flyers have made sixteen trips to the final four of the NHL playoffs. That is the most appearances of any franchise. Since the Stanley Cup years in 1974 and 1975, the Flyers have made six more appearances in the Stanley Cup Final, only to fall short of their goal.

Win-now mode has brought numerous banners to the rafters, but those years have not brought the banners that truly matter. In ten years, nobody outside of Philadelphia will remember the 2010 Flyers – except the Bruins. What the Flyers need to do to win a championship is to change their approach on how they assemble a team. Trading away young, developing players has proved to be a mistake in the recent years. Sharp and Justin Williams, both former Flyers, have Stanley Cup rings and have made a name for themselves in the NHL. Williams has proved to be a clutch player when it really matters, while Sharp has multiple 30-goal seasons to his name. Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Sergei Bobrovsky? Their accomplishments away from Philadelphia have already been recorded and repeated over and over again.

After the Blackhawks beat the Flyers to win the Cup, they lost defenseman Brian Campbell and forward/defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. The following season, the ‘Hawks barely squeaked into the playoffs. After two consecutive years of first-round exits, the Chicago front office did not panic. They allowed the team to grow.

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers could be the next great core in the NHL. Captain Claude Giroux is entering his fifth season. Jakub Voracek is going into his third with the Flyers along with Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds. The average age of this core – Giroux, Voracek, Read, Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier – is 23.5 years old. Schenn and Couturier are entering their third season in the NHL. Richards, Carter and Bobrovsky did not become credible NHL members until their third season, and I’m not saying Schenn and Couturier will do the same but just something to nibble on during the off-season.

Giroux, 25, didn’t break out until his third season as well. His fourth season is already well documented.

While the trade rumors circulate, Flyers fans should pray Paul Holmgren holds tight to the youngsters. They may be going throw the normal growing pains of development but each player has the potential to contribute and contend for a Cup. Maybe another image of a former Flyer lifting the Cup will resonate with Paul Holmgren.

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Tags: Claude Giroux Jakub Voracek Jeff Carter Mike Richards Philadelphia Flyers The Hockey News

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