The Flyers have a week off. Here’s what they should do to press the reset button on the organization that doesn’t – but very much does – need a culture change: They should fire Paul Holmgren and Craig Berube and his entire coaching staff. Make Ron Hextall the GM and promote Terry Murray from Phantoms to Flyers head coach.
He has destroyed what was a very good team in 2010 and 2011. They had a young core, with manageable cap hits, and a promising young goalie. All those guys are gone now, save for Claude Giroux.
The Flyers screwed up their goaltending situation, failed to address what was a looming problem on defense, and gave respectively absurd extensions to Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read, and even Zac Rinaldo and Jay Rosehill.*
I mean, just look at the insanity of some of their forward contracts on Cap Geek:
SCOTT HARTNELL AND WAYNE SIMMONDS ARE THE SAME PLAYER. MATT READ ONCE SCORED 24 GOALS, SOMEWHAT UNEXPECTEDLY. LOCK HIM! HIS ORIGINAL CONTRACT DOESN’T EVEN EXPIRE UNTIL NEXT SPRING!! LET’S PAY VINNY LECAVALIER FOR THE NEXT FIVE(!) SEASONS!
The Flyers had a captain – a good one, whom they liked, a lot – but they traded him. Then they made the old man who reportedly didn’t always get along with the younger guys the captain. Then, predictably, he got hurt and they made Giroux the captain, because obviously the best player should be the captain.
It’s all backfired. Every. Single. Move. There’s no reason Paul Holmgren should still be employed. I know that not a lot can be done during a season to drastically reshape a team, but it’s never too early to start trying.
I know, too, that Hextall seems like more of the same. And maybe he would be. But by all accounts, he did a great job as the Kings’ assistant GM in helping them win a Cup. Chances are he played a role in the team acquiring Richards and Carter. Which is ironic, because he probably wishes he had them now.
He’s been brought here as the obvious successor to Holmgren. Make the move, Ed.
I’ve seen enough. Flyers people would’ve had you believe that he was some great, untapped hockey mind waiting in the wings to take the league by storm. Words like tough, no-nonsense, leader were used to describe him. Fuck that. There’s no indication that Berube is anything other than a well-liked, made man in the organization… a career goon who admits that his players shouldn’t do what he did… who brings exactly nothing to the table as a head coach. Like, do you really think Berube is going to X and O the Flyers’ way out of their scoring slump? Give me a break. It was so obvious that Peter Laviolette wasn’t the problem, but they fired him anyway and installed Berube because he was made of that special OB mold. And, right on cue, he tapped another made man, Ian Laperriere, who spent the past few seasons ambassadizing for the Flyers, as an assistant. Love Lappy– but is there any reason to think that he’ll make a good coach other than the fact that he’s a nice guy with a cute accent who took a puck to the face? Christ, WAKE UP, PEOPLE.
Meanwhile, Terry Murray, a head coach with actual experience and a good track record, is waiting in the wings. You want to know how ridiculous the Flyers are? They fired Murray in 1997 after leading a team with two mediocre goalies to the Stanley Cup Finals because of a stupid comment about the team choking. Here’s how Rich Hoffman described the decision at the time:
The whole ‘choking’ business was bizarre. The fragility of the team’s confidence was exposed very quickly — exposed and pulverized. The coach could lose his job because of it.” [Murray was fired a few days later.]
Murray was fired because he upset his players. What wasn’t taken into account was the fact that the team finished first, first and second, respectively, in their division during his three years as coach. The Flyers have this terrible habit of offing guys who helped get them to the Finals because they didn’t win the Finals. Weird.
Murray would later squeeze 101 and 98 points out of the Kings in the two seasons before they acquired Richards and Carter and won the Cup. He’s a good coach who, in parts of 15 seasons as a head coach, finished with a losing record only three times.
I’m not even sure that Hextall and Murray are the best options, though. In fact, they’re probably not. But I’m trying to be realistic. The Flyers aren’t going to change their ways, so they might as well bring in their guys who have some experience and promise. Holmgren is clueless. Berube, as a head coach, insults me. Fire them both, today. Or just recreate the red wedding scene from Game of Thrones and truly start from scratch.
*I don’t have a problem with Rinaldo, but locking him and Rosehill up on two-year deals on the same day was the most Flyers thing ever.