My initial goal was to have this article ready for July, but I decided I didn’t want to take the spotlight away from free agency.
I went into this season thinking we’d see strides made towards the goal of becoming a Stanley Cup contender, that this season would be the start of something special. It was not. Aside from the least impressive 10-game win streak in NHL history, it was the most frustrating season since I started watching in 1995 (yes, more so than ’06-07, ’12-13 and ’14-15) — and that’s because, despite what members of the local media might try to tell you, this team had enough talent to make the playoffs. The Flyers should have been able to make tangible improvement upon last season, but their most notable achievement was becoming the only team ever to have a 10-game win streak and miss the playoffs. Instead of taking a step forward in the rebuild, the Flyers took a step backwards and head into the 2017 offseason with more questions than answers.
In reading back through my season preview article, a few things jump out as misguided, but what struck me most is how my biggest blind spot was for Dave Hakstol. I was so pleasantly surprised with his first season, that I didn’t once mention the potential for him to fall flat on his face. In fact, I only mentioned him twice, period, and neither had anything to do with his ability to lead a professional hockey team! It seems preposterous now that I wasn’t more skeptical of a head coach entering his second NHL season after a career spent in the college ranks, but so it goes. You find out what a new coach is about in year two, when the element of surprise is gone, he has to adjust to a league that has adjusted to him, and his worst traits come to the surface.
What we learned about Dave Hakstol was troubling, to say the least, and catastrophic, to say the worst. Pigheaded, perplexing, inane, downright indefensible personnel decisions mixed with an ultraconservative approach to create the shittiest of cocktails. This team was only consistent in its inconsistency and played a brand of hockey that was tepid, unexciting, uninspiring, and lacked passion. The Flyers were just so fucking bland. Then again, teams reflect the personalty of their coach. This season was a real eye opener about the man behind the bench, and I’m not sure how you can leave it thinking Hakstol is destined for success in today’s NHL. It won’t be easy to swallow his pride like this after taking such a big risk, but if Ron Hextall is actually an objective evaluator, Hakstol should be on a short leash entering next season.
As the title of the article alludes, here are my takeaways from the Flyers’ disappointing 2017-18: Continue Reading