When people say, “I want my country back!”, it can be construed in many ways. I know when I’ve said it, I have meant that I wanted to go back to a time, in my youth, when if people had political differences, we could talk about them reasonably and respectfully, without making it personal and making things worse. Maybe it was naivety of my youth or maybe it is the absence of social media that made living in the 80s and 90s seem better. Maybe it is just nostalgia.
But I’m not here to talk about that. “I want my team back, dagnabit!” I want my Flyers to be like who they were. But what does that mean, exactly? Well, to me, it means a lot of things.
The playoffs used to be our birthright. It was a natural things. The Flyers were always gonna be in the playoffs. They might be one-and-done, but they made it. Between the team’s founding in 1967 to the 2011-2012 season, the Flyers missed the playoffs just seven times. Five of those years were a stretch from 1989-90 to 1993-94.
Since then, the team has made the playoffs just four times. We’ve gone from being dominant; one of the pre-season Stanley Cup favorites year in and year out and we are a joke; an afterthought. And to be fair, the fans of the Detroit Red Wings are in the same boat as we are.
Consistency in Lines
I want a steady line that is formidable. Boston’s Perfection Line of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand have been together for eight years. Eight years! I’d love to have that kind of stability back on the Flyers. The Legion of Doom and Doom II was Eric Lindros, John LeClair, and Mikael Renberg/Mark Recchi for about that length of time. We also have had the famed LCB Line during the Broad Street Bully Era of Reggie Leach, Bobby Clarke, and Bill Barber.
Now, this is no fault to Coach John Tortorella as he has to juggle lines around to see what fits. The top lines have seen a lot of fluctuation this season. This is what happens with a new coach. Still, I would love to see this team find a line that will be together and are dominant for the next five years or more. I would love for this team to have a line that sends shivers down the spines of our opponents.
When I think about the ownership of the Flyers, I think of that classic scene in Slapshot:
I want an ownership that cares. When Ed Snider owned this team, the team succeeded. The team succeeded, in part, because that man bled orange and black. This team was his passion. When he died in 2016, the Flyers were knocked out in six games by the Capitals in the first round. They’ve been to the playoffs twice since then.
The team is just a ledger in a book owned by Comcast. If you think they are in a hurry to fix this team, let me ask you a question: “How long does it take for the cable guy to come over and fix your internet/cable?” As long as we keep filling up the Wells Fargo Center and buying the merchandise, they are quite fine with things as they are.
I want a team that cares about winning. Over the last decade, this team became complacent. Like losing was no big deal. We don’t have to play dirty, but I want a team that is angry about losing and will go down swinging. But for years, I could watch a Flyers game and tell, even from the first period, that the game was lost because the general sense I got watching them was an “Eeyorish, watcha gonna do” style of play. They wouldn’t chase a puck into the corner after dumping it off, they wouldn’t make any real offensive attack, and they played with no spirit or energy.
There are a lot of things that Coach Tortorella is doing right. This is among them. They have a spark in them that they haven’t had in a while. He’s pushing them to play and they are responding. Even when the lose, they are not playing like doormats. This is still a rough season, but considering they are playing at near .500, that’s remarkable when you consider the injuries that mounted up and the relative inexperience of many of the players.
I believe this team is trending in the right direction. Time will tell. But I want my team back. I want the orange and black to be intimidating colors again. I want the Wells Fargo Center to be rocking as we hang up banners. I want the Flyers to be one of the premier teams in the league. Maybe it will happen soon. Still, I want my team back.
I have seen my Phillies go from perennial cellar dwellers (except in 93) to the toast of the city twice. I have seen the Eagles capture the hearts of this city time and time again. Even the Sixers have had players that have magnetized the Delaware Valley. It would be nice to see the Flyers, the team that used to be the class of the Philly sports world, return to the top of the mountain. It would be nice to see a parade down Broad Street and see someone like Kevin Hayes or Travis Konecny give a Jason Kelce level speech. It would be nice to have that hope again, every September, that maybe, just maybe, this will be our year.