Category: Flyers (page 1 of 251)

Philly Fans (and Media) and the Fear of Something New

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Hinkie is a fraud. Chip Kelly thinks he’s still in college. Dave Hakstol should still be in college. The Phillies.

These are the loudest and most prevalent(?) gripes about Philly sports today. Many writers echo these sentiments (locally and nationally). The old-timers feel that way. But shouldn’t a town that has felt the joy of victory so infrequently in its history be more willing to accept a different way of doing things as long as the goal is to win championships? David Murphy has a theory:

Maybe the people who complain about Hinkie and Kelly and Dave Hakstol are all the same people, and, if they are, maybe they are indicative of some sort of reactionary ethos that lies deep in the identity of this town, one that opposes anything that is not done the way it is “supposed” to be done, the way it has always been done, the way our fathers and their fathers watched it be done, back when programs cost a nickel, and Concrete Charlie wreaked havoc all over Franklin Field.

And, if they are, maybe the volume and violence of their reaction to the recent upheaval is indicative of the influence that the protectors of the ethos once held, because theirs is the reaction of a power structure that is no longer. And if all of this is true – if the hate of Hinkie and the doubt of Kelly originate with an ideology so strong it once served as a fundamental aspect of selfhood in the city of Philadelphia – then maybe it long served to influence the decision-making of the city’s sports teams, pushing local ownership groups toward the familiar, the comfortable, the traditional in their hiring, prioritizing guys who said “wooder” and “sawff pressle” over guys with newfangled ideas who didn’t really care what the locals thought.

Murphy’s right. For a city born out of dissent and revolution, Philadelphians are a proud, traditional people. In fact, “Phila,” the Greek word for love, might not be what describes us best after all. Maybe it’s “storge,” meant to show “mere acceptance or putting up with situations, as in ‘loving’ the tyrant.” Storgedelphia sounds awful though.

The Phillies’ last three managers have been hires from the quasi-inside. The Eagles stuck with Andy Reid for 408 years. The Sixers’ GM history is a list of former coaches and Billy King. And the Flyers finally hired not only someone from outside the Flyers, but also outside the NHL. In dire sports times like these, risk should be greeted with enthusiasm (or at the very least, acceptance), but the capital “w” Writers and first-time, long-timers prefer things to be the way they’ve always been. The way that brought two Stanley Cups to the Flyers (last in 1975), three championships to the Sixers (last in 1983), two World Series wins to the Phillies (’80 and ’08), and exactly zero Super Bowl victories to the Eagles.

But, to many, people who embrace the risks are Kool-Aid drinkers or apologists or don’t know enough about the sport, as if you have to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the dead-ball era to want to win. The Flyers have been stagnant, the Sixers have been goal-less, the Eagles hit a wall, and the Phillies have been tumbling down a steep hill, hitting every bump along the way. But instead of really looking at the Sixers’ post-Iverson era or the Eagles’ lack of Super Bowl wins, it’s just: Different is bad. Nerds don’t belong in sports. It’s all a Ponzi scheme. Chip is just going back to college anyway. They’re all frauds*.

But the thing is, it’s easy to know what you’re getting. It’s relaxing to know you’ll get at least 10 wins and make it to the second round of the playoffs. It’s less stressful to know you’ll finish right around .500 and maybe luck into winning a playoff round. But it’s also less fun. And as much as sports here are “business,” they are not serious business. They’re supposed to be fun. And if you can’t have fun because things aren’t the way things were — or even worse, if that makes you angry — then you’re doing sports wrong.

*I challenge every sports writer out there to go a full year without calling someone a fraud. It’s the most overused and hyperbolic word in Philly sports media.


Flyers Sign Guy

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This in addition to signing Yvgeni Medvedev yesterday, which leads to this particular Tweet from Sam Carchidi:

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Palushaj is a US citizen, so he’d have to do some political wizardry to work his way onto Team Russia… or the Flyers for that matter. He’ll be a Phantom, most likely. Did this really need a press release? DID THIS REALLY NEED A POST? Today it did. Today it did.


NHL 16 Is Going to Have Playoff Beards and That’s Amazing

Now the Flyers just have to make the playoffs so it can be "in the game." Photo credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Now the Flyers just have to make the playoffs so it can be “in the game.” Photo credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Remember last year when everyone FREAKED OUT because the pretty great NHL 15 on PS4 and Xbox One shipped without many of its assumed game modes thanks to the port over to the new systems? Well, hoo boy, has EA Sports made up for it– this year announcing the full slew of game modes and features, like, three months early.

You can see them all after the jump – there are a lot – but the standout seemed like almost a throwaway at the end:

Playoff Beards

One of the oldest and most iconic traditions in hockey has arrived. With accurate representations of beard patterns, length, thickness, and growth rates for individual players, the road to the Stanley Cup just got hairier.


Look, I hate a gimmicks as much as the next guy, but you’d have to be the type of heartless mongrel who roots for Sid Phillips in Toy Story to not be tempted to throw down a (completely useless*) $5 deposit on this bad boy based on that one feature-add alone.

*Unless you play Ultimate Team and want the free packs and all. In which case… well played, planner.

Full disclosure: This is not an ad, it’s just that EA’s hockey series allows me to reach back into my childhood and pull that little skinny bastard into the future and warn, “You’re still going to be doing the exact same thing with your free time in two decades, so don’t you be in any rush to grow up, ya big dweeb!” 31, 13. What’s the difference, Jennifer Garner?

Full feature set after the jump. Continue reading


Local Media Has Resorted to Trolling in Absence of Anything to Write about Dave Hakstol

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Mike Sielski, really earning that paycheck today.

Side note: I’m glad they hired a guy from outside the organization. Maybe Hakstol turns out to be a good coach. Maybe he doesn’t. But I’m not sure he represents culture change. By all accounts, he’s a fiery nutcase – like Peter Laviolette, like Hextall – who, let’s face it, only got a crack at the job because he coached Hextall’s kid. And if you were wondering if he’s some progressive, advanced statistics guru, keep on wondering. It seems his knowledge in analytics is limited to expressing an interest in them at ND when he contacted their Economics department about possibly incorporating them into his workflow. It sounds like there was some interest there. He’s open-minded, sure, but it doesn’t seem like he’s the Hinkie or Chip of hockey by any stretch. Then again, little is known about the guy, so maybe he’s more progressive than what’s being written about the guy… which, as you can see above, is very little.


Claude Giroux, Towel Around His Shoulder, No Pants, Holding a Beer

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Big day for man crushes around here.

I guess Team Canada won that World Championship tournament no one cares about this weekend. After the victory, Tyler Seguin ‘grammed (and quickly deleted) this photo from the celebration. It’s of Claude Giroux, and he’s sans pants. The full image is here because, well, this is a family site advertisers don’t like images of anything that could potentially be a dick. It’s why we don’t post photos of Papelbon anymore.

via Reddit


Dave Hakstol: The Basics


Dave Hakstol is the new Flyers coach. Ron Hextall, in the introductory press conference, described his “tireless work ethic” and “extremely high-level” knowledge of the game. But what else do we know about Hakstol and the way he coaches beyond GM speak about the guy who was just given one of the most high-profile jobs in hockey?


But the #FireHakstol hashtag has been pretty active over the years. Here’s an example:


In his eleven years at the University of North Dakota, Hakstol’s teams have never posted a winning percentage lower than .605, and though he led his team to the NCAA Frozen Four seven times, they only advanced to the Finals once.

College Hockey writer Chris Dilks told Broad Street Hockey what they need to know about Hakstol:

Hakstol has a reputation as a very intense, super-serious guy. It’s very, very rare to ever see him crack a smile. His teams play a tough, very physical style of hockey. Offensively, he wants his guys to get the puck to the net from anywhere and then grind out rebounds, tips, etc.

He had a ton of success at North Dakota, but with the money and facilities they have, they’re also getting the cream of the crop in terms of talent. There was some frustration in Grand Forks from fans that he was never able to win a national title, but a lot of it was that the NCAA’s goofy playoff system. It’s so rare to see a coach go from the NCAA to an NHL head job, so I really have no idea how he’ll do. I think he’s a pretty good coach, but so is everyone else at that level.

And for all of that #FireHakstol stuff, Broad Street Hockey explains it like this: “North Dakota fans are the New England Patriots fans of NCAA hockey. They are insufferable and think that nothing short of a title is what they, the truest of the true college hockey fan, deserves.”

Back to the press conference: Hextall said Hakstol was the number one target all along, that he “gets the most out of his players,” and that his lack of pro experience is the only box he didn’t check with Hakstol’s hiring [editor’s note: I suppose that box is pretty large].

Howard Eskin asked Hakstol what he thinks his adjustment has to be to coach pro players. “I believe in what we do and I believe in the things that I do and I’m not gonna change that,” Hakstol replied. “I’m not gonna pretend that I do [have experience at this level], but … one of the most important things is communicating with and getting to know these players.”


When asked about choosing a rookie coach, Hextall said he’d take a guy who has been a head coach in college for 11 years over an NHL assistant every time. Hakstol, when asked about the fan base, the city and media, said, “the history and tradition of this organization” was one of the real exciting things about taking the job.

The most popular question asked of Hextall — more than once, in a few different forms — was how many candidates he interviewed/who else he talked do/what about Babcock/etc. Hextall refused to discuss the process, but said Hakstol is “the right guy.” By going outside of the usual candidates and processes, Hakstol’s hiring puts a lot of pressure on Hextall.

Flyers chairman Bernie Lomax Ed Snider pretty much deferred to Hextall on the hire:

I'm alive, maybe

It remains to be seen if Hakstol will be a good coach at this level. But it’s immediately obvious that he has great, no nonsense hair:

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The Hakstol era begins.


12 Intense, Searing Facts About New Flyers Head Coach Dave Hakstol

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Little is know about new Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol, but prevailing wisdom says he’s kind of an intense lunatic. Some facts:

He once flipped off a referee and was suspended for it

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North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol has been suspended two games by the school for his actions during Saturday’s game against Minnesota.

Hakstol was caught on video cameras making an obscene gesture — flipping his middle finger — at referee Don Adam. Hakstol had released a statement Sunday apologizing for his actions.



Staring into his eyes is like staring directly into the sun… a weird-talking, Canadian sun

It got easier, though there was seldom a time during three seasons as the men’s hockey beat writer that I managed to avoid the intimidation before I prepared to ask Dave Hakstol a question and face his constant eye contact.



And sometimes, you don’t even have to look at him to get burnt

Coach Dave Hakstol, at the end of his postgame TV interview, looked directly at the camera with his piercing stare that has become so famous during the last 10 years.

“That stare,” one former player said, “will penetrate the back of your helmet.”


Continue reading


BREAKING: Flyers Hire Guy You Never Heard of as Head Coach

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From now on, I’m posting every unsubstantiated tip I get. Every. One. This is an email I got Friday afternoon from an unknown (but identified) tipster:

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I spent the next two hours poking around, searching Twitter (at that point, Hakstol’s name had only been tweeted once, by anyone, in the last seven days), and emailing a Flyers PR rep, who had never even heard of Hakstol. I figured it was just a strange rumor, or that Hextall had talked to Hakstol (names!) because Ron’s son, Brett, played for Hakstol at North Dakota. Fast-forward to this morning– Flyers press release:

Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall announced this morning that Dave Hakstol has been named the 19th head coach in Flyers history.

“Dave brings a wealth of head coaching experience and success to the Philadelphia Flyers organization,” said Hextall. “He’s a proven winner and we are pleased to have him become part of the Flyers family.”

“I am extremely excited to be named the Philadelphia Flyers new head coach,” said Hakstol. “Through the process here with Ron [Hextall] and everybody in the Flyers organization I have gained even more of an understanding of the history and tradition of this organization and I’m very proud to become part of the Philadelphia Flyers today.”

Hakstol, 46 (7/30/1968), comes to the Flyers from the University of North Dakota where he spent the last 11 seasons compiling an overall record of 289-143-43 with a .654 winning percentage in 475 games. In 2014-15, he led North Dakota to a 29-10-3 record with a .726 winning percentage and a berth in the NCAA Frozen Four.

North Dakota made the NCAA Tournament in every one of Hakstol’s 11 seasons and reached the Frozen Four seven times in that span, which is the most of any program in the country during that period. Hakstol led North Dakota to an overall postseason record of 54-24 for a .692 winning percentage, including a 17-11 record in the NCAA Tournament, during his tenure.

He joined the school’s coaching staff in 2000 as an assistant coach, and took over the head coaching job four years later. Under Hakstol’s watch, North Dakota won three regular season conference championships – two in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA, 2008-09, 2010-11) and one in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC, 2014-15).  North Dakota also won WCHA playoff championships in 2005-06, 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12.  Hakstol received conference coach of the year honors twice, in the WCHA in 2008-09 and in the NCHC in 2014-15.  He was also an eight-time finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award as national coach of the year.

Hakstol’s program has produced 20 NHL players and a total of 46 that have played professionally at some level. His former players include Jonathan Toews (CHI) and Matt Greene (LAK), each of whom have won two Stanley Cups since leaving the school, as well as T.J. Oshie (STL), Travis Zajac (NJD), Drew Stafford (BUF, WPG) and Chris VandeVelde (EDM, PHI). He has also had seven players named Hobey Baker Award finalists, including Ryan Duncan who won the award in 2007, and 11 players named All-Americans.


Hakstol has virtually no experience in major professional hockey:

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More soon.


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