An Unsavory Meal

Points taste good, and we’re starving.

Results this week: Rangers 3, Flyers 0; Rangers 5, Flyers 2; Sharks 2, Flyers 1; Ducks 5, Flyers 4 (SO)

Current record: 8-13-4, 20 points

Record at this point last year: 11-12-2, 24 points

Upcoming schedule: Dec 6 at Kings, Dec 9 at Blue Jackets, Dec 11 vs Devils

I grew up in a middle-class family.  Being middle-class, we didn’t go out a lot and didn’t have money for a lot of extras, and we saved money wherever we could.  One of the ways we saved money was buying generic food over name brands.  One week, Mom came home with a big generic bag of large lima beans and cooked them to go along with a meal we were having.  They were the worst thing I ever tasted; they tasted like I imagined an old cardboard box would taste.  They were terrible, and there was nothing I could do to them to make them any better.

I didn’t watch the Rangers home-and-home when they first aired due to Thanksgiving celebrations; they went into the DVR for later viewing.  And so as I was sitting down to watch those games, knowing the outcomes due to social media, it reminded me of sitting down to eat an endless plate of those lima beans for five hours straight.

You want to know where the Flyers stand?  That’s where the Flyers stand.  I can barely stomach them, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

I will say this: Craig Berube is the perfect coach for this team.  No one expected him to win anything, the team is two years away from making any kind of noise, and no one will get upset when he’s fired.  Berube is just a bookmark in Flyers team history until they hire the guy they expect to move the story forward, no different than Paul Holmgren taking over Mike Keenan’s Flyers in 1988 and taking them to the conference finals before they failed to do squat the next three years he was the guy.  On top of all of that, this team may not only fail to make the playoffs but be in position to take a shot at Connor McDavid, and Berube’s scratching of Lecavalier may force him out of town and/or to retire and get off of the Flyers cap.

Speaking of which, what the hell was Paul Holmgren thinking by signing Vinnie?  “I’m really thinking about firing my coach if he starts slow, but first let’s lock up an aging player he really wants for five years.”  Or was it someone else’s decision… like, say, Ed Snider’s?  There are four possible scenarios:

Scenario 1: Holmgren made both choices.

This means Homer signed the 33-year-old Lecavalier to a five-year, $22.5M deal, then fired the coach he specifically came to play for three games into that 410 game deal.  I’m going with “no”.

Scenario 2: Snider had something to do with the signing, Holmgren fired Laviolette.

To be fair, Ed has been involved before: you don’t sign guys to contracts like Mike Richards or Jeff Carter signed without getting the owner’s okie-doke to offer it.  Snider was involved in the Bryzgalov signing as well.  It’s entirely possible Homer had a mandate from on high to go get someone big to help the team, even when Homer knew his coach was probably toast and probably should have been toast since the off-season.  Of the four scenarios, I think this is the most likely.

Scenario 3: Holmgren masterminded the signing, and Snider had something to do with Laviolette’s firing.

This is harder for me to believe.  It would make more sense to fire both Laviolette and Holmgren simultaneously, bring in a GM (like Hextall) and let him select his own coach.

Scenario 4: Snider did both.

Not out of the question, but hard to believe.

So the two most believable scenarios are 2 and 3, where Snider had a hand in things, but wasn’t controlling everything.  This is fairly consistent with perceptions of how the Flyers have operated.

The question is this: how much does Ed Snider love the Flyers?

For years, the Flyers spent money with abandon (like giving Chris Gratton $10M in 1997.  CHRIS GRATTON!).  They were able to spend their way out of mistakes, throwing good money after bad.  Those days are gone; in the cap-era NHL, teams need viable NHL players to progress through their system and remain controllable (and cheap) for years before either being re-signed or signed away in free agency.  This means big deals which turn out to be bad deals linger like a stale fart, stinking up everything around it and affecting the team’s ability to effectively spend the limited amount of money they have under the cap conditions.  This also means you can’t trade away young prospects you’ve become impatient with; you need to be patient and let people develop.

Unfortunately for Ed (who turns 82 in January), time grows short.  Old people die every day.  And so he has a painful choice to make: if he really, truly loves the orange and black, he will support Hextall’s departure away from the quick-fix, short-sighted philosophy that saw them deal the likes of Patrick Sharp, Sergei Bobrovsky, and countless other prospects who blossomed elsewhere, build the Flyers from within, and probably never see them win another Stanley Cup.

Flyers fans and the city of Philadelphia as a whole owe a great deal to Ed.  He brought the Flyers to Philadelphia.  The organization has never wanted for anything in terms of resources, has never threatened to leave town for want of a state-of-the-art facility, and has always put the emphasis on winning, even to a fault.  The Flyers are a first-rate organization with passionate fans, two Stanley Cups, and a tremendous history that touches not only the NHL but international hockey history. Mr. Snider is responsible for a lot of that.  And now he can give them one of the most precious, most important and valuable things he’s ever granted: time.

Other Thoughts:

-Vinnie Lecavalier forcing a trade or retiring without damaging the Flyers cap too badly would be a dream scenario, yeah?  Otherwise that deal is an albatross.

-Bellemare Watch: healthy scratch?  Why?

-I still think Berube is bulletproof until the end of the year.  He’s just testing them a bit more than we thought he would; he could probably come out of the locker room half-dressed, dropping F-bombs and giving everyone the finger and just have to pay a fine.  Unless you’re going to bring someone like Dan Bylsma in for the long-term, it doesn’t make sense to make a switch now.

-And I still think Snider should hand Mike Babcock a blank check next year and ask him to fill it in.  I don’t think there will be a finer mind available.

-The Flyers yet again demonstrated that playing better hockey and keeping the puck more doesn’t result in wins right away.  The problem they’ve faced is being consistently good; when you’re consistently good, the wins come, but you can’t just be good here and there and expect to win.  The league is too good for that.

-The team MVP has to be Mason, followed by Voracek and Giroux.  Mason has kept them in some ridiculous games where they have stunk so badly and yet had a chance to pull it out late because of his work.

-If I told you that this team would win a Cup in five years or less, would you believe me?  If they stick with this rebuild and most of those young defensemen pan out as the real deals, it could happen.

-Speaking of young defensemen, Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim were invited to Canada’s World Junior camp as two of the ten defensemen they called in.  It’s exciting to track these guys and see how they do, and this is further proof that not only are we watching them, but international hockey people are watching them too and they are being selected to compete for places on the top international teams, and are top talent.

-Hopefully with the West Coast trip ending and some East Coast teams coming up, the Flyers can get going again, if only so I don’t have to feel like I’m eating lima beans for the rest of the season.

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