Every Philadelphia team has that guy that just gets us. He is one of us. Joel Embiid is the passion of the city. Jason Kelce is pretty much what 80% of us Eagles fans look and act like. Same with John Kruk. There are guys that connect with us because of their fun, vibrant personality. It’s been a long time since the Flyers had a guy like that.
Yeah, Claude Giroux was the man, but he was too business. Wayne Simmonds was definitely a fan favorite. And some Flyers fans can trace the team’s apathetic slide towards mediocrity to after they traded Simmer away. There was no way in Hell that Simmonds would let the team….his team…play half-assed. But if you go back even further to 2014, I’d say it began when we lost Scott Hartnell.
It wasn’t that Hartnell was the best player. He never was or would be; although he did score 30+ goals twice as a Flyer. He battled injuries and played hurt. Much of the time, he kept falling down. He fell so much, he had a charity called Hartnell Down. Money would be raised for every time he fell on the ice.
But he also joked with the fans. Who could EVER forget that classically magic moment when he played around with the Pittsburgh version of Hulk Hogan?
But not only that, when the fan had passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer, Hartnell honored the gentleman.
Hartnell was a good player, but also a lot of fun. And when he was traded away for RJ Umberger, a former Flyer, it didn’t feel right. Umberger would be bought out after some bad seasons in Philly while Hartnell would score 64 goals in three seasons in Columbus before finishing up his career in Nashville.
Kevin Hayes could’ve been everything that Hartnell was. Hayes, like Hartnell, was a solid, but not great player who could check, score, and do what was asked. Hayes also connected with the fans earlier on in his career, especially with his relationship with Gritty.
The Flyers have a lot of young talent and some up and coming stars. But they need someone fun that the team can rally behind in the locker room and on the ice. They also need someone who can energize the fans with both his play and his attitude. Hopefully they can find that guy soon.