Thanks in small part to a couple of 302s, and in large part to another sunny beach day, I am extending the holiday weekend by 24 hours. But fear you shant. Here now is Dan Hershberg, the brilliant mind behind Philly Phaithful and a bit of a Paul Holmgren apologist (Homerist?). These are his words, giving some more much needed perspective to Homer's inquisition. See you on Wednesday.
Sunday, April 8th. 2007.
Yes, the season ends with a win. But it is a season in which that result was a rare commodity, seven months devoid of peaks and littered with valleys. The Philadelphia Flyers are the worst team in hockey.
Fast forward to 2011. Four seasons, four playoff berths. A memorable Stanley Cup run kick-started by a thrilling shootout win over the arch-rival from the north. A roster full of talented, dynamic young players.
Oh, how quickly we forget.
A historically bad team becomes a contender in short order and the calls for progress are drowned out by screams for instant gratification. Rational thinking goes out the window. "Sign Stamkos" becomes the phrase that incites the masses. Remarkably, one man can't hear the noise. Or maybe he simply chooses not to listen. Thankfully, this man is the one in charge of shaping the roster. This man is Paul Holmgren.
This is the same man who turned an aging Alexei Zhitnik into Braydon Coburn. Hope retirement is treating you well, Comrade.
This is the same man who used the number two pick on James van Reimsdyk. They don't give do-overs on these picks, ya know.
This is the same man who brought in Danny Briere, Kimmo Timonen and Chris Pronger. Not Chris Drury, Wade Redden and Michal Rosival.
Hey, Flyers fans. Maybe we should stop and remember that for a second before we call for the man's head, despite the fact that his choice in barbers leaves much to be desired.
While were deciding what to stock your shore house with this past weekend, the GM was busy fixing every discernible organizational issue in his path after an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Bruins. Yes, it was broken and yes, it needed fixing.
So you have goaltending issues? Let's get a head on start by acquiring the rights to the best goalie on the market and make sure we sign him before free agency begins. Oh yeah, we'll do it with a manageable cap hit too.
So you're up against the cap and can't just dump salary for kicks? Ship that tall blonde guy with 11-year deal and non-existent playoff game to Columbus. He won't even need to skate after the first week of April in Ohio–more beach time for One Seven. Who cares if every other team knows we're in a bind, we're getting value.
So the cupboard is bare? How does the consensus NHL-ready top prospect sound? Should we add a 6'4, 19-year old two-way center with massive upside to our roster with our new 1st round pick? Yeah, let's do that. While we're at it, let's add a few extra draft picks (two seconds, three thirds) to help out that dreadful minor league system. And no more "Versteeg sucks" tweets? Sounds good to me.
So you need to balance out the lineup? Add grit and tenacity from a guy we hated playing against and an aging sniper who has been known to find the twine on the man advantage from time to time. 181 time to times. Throw in an extra top-6 winger for that beach bum and a younger, better version of Scott Hartnell who doesn't fall down and you got yourselves a deal.
You want to moan about the loss of the captain? Nobody–not even the GM himself–would begrudge you that opportunity. Feeling a little overwhelmed because almost half of your roster is skating elsewhere, replaced by a finger-waving Penguin and a former Ranger with a mullet? Trust me, I feel ya.
But before you feel the need to wax poetic about the glory days of Richie and Carts and a little of Ville and 4th line grinders with an Ivy League education, just remember that all those days ended just as this one will tonight: with someone else drinking out of the silver chalice lined with names of heroes not our own. The goal will forever remain the same and it's about time we started reminding ourselves that the sentiment is shared by everyone. Even those in charge.
P.S. When all else fails, we still have Giroux.