The Flyers have officially ended the Chuck Fletcher era by naming former Flyers winger Keith Jones as team president and cementing Danny Briere’s role, removing the interim tag from his General Manager title. It has been reported that Jones was vying with Eddie Olczyk for the position of team president.
The selection of Jones over Olczyk would seem to be a nod towards the franchise’s past identity of a hard-nosed hockey team, which will restore hope to Flyers fans who saw the team becoming less of a sports team and more of a click bait marketing campaign for the spirit of the age which would be more in line with the media hungry Olczyk.
With the leadership team now in place, they should be free to address issues that have plagued the organization during Fletcher’s rule.
The Flyers Must Be Honest with Themselves
The Flyers, like the rest of us, are operating in a post truth environment. Be it “two weeks to stop the spread”, “inflation is transitory”, “it is safe and effective” or “the banking system is stable”, consumers of information are lied to on a daily basis. While sad, society has adjusted for the most part and count on being lied to. It is already factored into the equation. The Flyers were no different, insisting that a very flawed team was on the cusp of cup contention. History has shown that view to be far from accurate. While not quite on the level of Russian disinformation, Comcast wants maximum interest in the team, and it is not shocking that they might say anything to mislead us. The real question is were they misleading themselves?
Under the Scott/Fletcher regime, I believe Dave Scott truly thought that the Flyers were close to a contender. Be it words from Hextall, the state of the prospect pipeline, Scott was optimistic. Scott was a comcast corporate man, but also had a deep loyalty to Mr. Ed Snider. I believe Scott was looking to get one last cup for the departed Snider. It is hard to fault him, this was some one following his heart to the point that maybe it clouded his judgement.
I also believe that Chuck Fletcher did nothing to dispel that notion, and likely reinforced Scott’s belief in order to get the job. Fletcher made bad, wild gambles, mortgaging the future to make them. Fletcher knew that the team was not close to contention, as evident by the panicked, illogical, shoot the moon style bets he made. He went along with the lie, promoted it to make sure his paycheck kept coming.
The Flyers era of self-deception must end. There are several challenges the Flyers must address, but the organization has to admit that the challenges exist. Jones and Briere have to understand and accept that the team is no where close to contending, and won’t be until there are solutions for structural roster problems, some of which have long contracts. It will take a sustained dose of sober truth to get this team back on the right track.
While Briere has been wise not to put a timeline on a rebuild, the team is undoubtedly in need of one. There must be a cohesive plan, which will have a time line as a byproduct, but it all must start with an honest assessment of the team. Without that, it is just a waste of time and resources.