The Flyers Are Still a Parody of Themselves

Photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this year, both Craig Berube and Ron Hextall talked about the need for the Flyers to evolve from the social experiment they’ve long been to a team that relies, at least in part, on data and modern thinking to progress into this century. Berube, for his part, helped steer the OB out of a really bad start and into one of the best finishes in hockey last season. For once, it seemed like maybe, maybe things were changing.

But nah.

Hextall hasn’t had enough time to do anything truly impactful on the roster, so it’s hard to judge him at this point. But we’re now more than a full year into Berube’s tenure as coach, and cliché-filled quotes like these make it feel like this is still the same old Flyers. From CSN Philly:

“Yeah, at times,” Berube said of his players’ pressing. “But I think it’s a hard game. That was a hard game against Anaheim. They are a big, strong team.

“They have a strong work ethic. Our guys battled hard and did a lot of good things. A lot of times when you press too much, you get burnt the other way.

“The sooner we get out of this, I’d rather them just enjoy the game and play. More than anything, that is the biggest thing. Enjoy the game and play. They’re good players. They know the system, play it and trust it.”

“No, they’re not trying to be Superman,” Berube replied. “They all want to win. They all want to do it. They really do. That’s a good thing. We have good character on this team. I said that last year and it hasn’t changed this year. It’s a good-character hockey team.”

Coaches don’t give the media much, so it’s possible that this is just Berube saying the bare minimum here. But it’s all a refrain we’ve heard before. Battle, system, character are the sort of buzzwords that should make you cringe. They’re the words that SNL would use in a skit about Flyers hockey. Instructing players to enjoy the game is not the instruction needed to get of a six-game (really?!) losing streak. At a certain point you have to acknowledge that there’s a skill deficiency and an organizational problem.

I know I’m not saying anything new here, but I was really beginning to like Berube by the end of last season. Now, though, he sounds like Keith Primeau’s version of Bill Barber– work harder, make adjustments. It sounds like he doesn’t have answers, which, in turn, sounds like a coach who’s on the verge of becoming a special assistant to the GM.

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23 Responses

  1. “Hextall hasn’t had enough time to do anything truly impactful on the roster, so it’s hard to judge him at this point. ”

    1. Trading a significantly better possession player in Scott “Giroux/Voracek Makes Me Better, not true” Hartnell for RJ “Remember I scored 10G in a PO series” Umberger.

    2. Resigning Future Captain Zac Rinaldo over the summer.

    One impacts the roster immensely; resigning Rinaldo was flat out stupid and irresponsible.

    1. The Rinaldo signing was dumb and I’d suspect he gets dealt at the deadline to some contender that needs a “gritty fourth line energy” that they can plug in during their playoff run.

      Hextall is trying to shed contracts. Hartnell was one to go since no one is going to pick up Vinnie’s horrid deal.

      Hextall is kind of handcuffed with the salary cap disaster that Holmgren left him with. He’s gotta clear the decks to start actually rebuilding and putting his stamp on the team. Sadly thanks to Paul “Here’s Six Years, and a No Movement Clause” Holmgren, that’s going to take some time.

      Hextall may turn out to be a disaster like Holmgren too. Or, he may be great. But we won’t even be able to begin to see that for at least two seasons.

      1. I know why Hartnell was moved, but they can’t act like they’re surprised that RJ is a total disaster. The Rinaldo extension is totally irresponsible on Hextall’s part. Typical Flyers. I’m curious to see how Hextall handles the upcoming deadline, draft, and offseason. It’s a big moment of his early years as GM.

        #collapseforconnor

        1. Because Hartnell had 4 years left with a big cap hit. Umberger has two years left with the same cap hit. When RJ is up, at least Voracek and Simmonds will need to be re-signed.

    2. The Hartnell/Umberger trade was made with the future in mind. Umberger’s overpriced contract ends two years before Hartnell’s overpriced contract. It sucks for now, but did we really expect them to win anything anytime soon?

      I like Rinaldo as a 4th-line winger, but guys like him are a dime a dozen.

      Hextall’s still handcuffed by all of Holgren’s bonehead moves so I think it is still quick to pass judgment on the job he’s done.

      1. If they really wanted to shed contracts they should have traded hartnell for picks. Columbus was about to use a buy out on umberger. If the flyers really wanted him they could have signed him after for a fraction of the cost.

        1. I don’t think the Blue Jackets would’ve done the deal without the Flyers taking Umberger off of their hands.

  2. How is Laviolette doing? He was the real issue wasn’t he. How about the Flyers overrate all of their players and trade away the good ones.

      1. A clown in 1st place you mean? He’s one of the best hockey coaches in the game you turd

  3. True that Hextall is stuck with the mess Homer made. I just wonder if Hextall has the backbone to stand up to Mr. Snider when it comes time to do deals and he wants to stay anchored in the 70s and early 80s, or, when Ed decrees to get the best damn (fill in position) player available a la Bryz, or he goes on the “win now” tirade. We all know that patience is not one of Ed’s strong points.

  4. “I was really beginning to like Berube by the end of last season. Now, though, he sounds like Keith Primeau’s version of Bill Barber”

    Shows how stupid you are. ooohhh they’re winning some games, Berube is good! awww they’re losing, he’s not good! Solid Analysis there, further proof of how great a “sports” blog this is.

  5. Kyle, just ask yourself one question: Would Craig Berube be a head coach of any of the other NHL teams? I think you would agree that answer is “No”. Not even a team with no money to spend unlike the Flyers who could spend whatever they want on a top-tier coach. Unfortunately, there aren’t any former Flyers that are top-tier coaches so we probably won’t see one here anytime soon.

  6. This aint on the coach….again. At some point, the players have to be held accountable. The roster sucks. Their is no one on the team who can generate or create offense consistently outside of Voracek and at times Giroux, when he seems to be in the mood.

    The rest of the lineup is one ‘mucker and grinder’ followed by another. Hard workers maybe, but lack of real offensive talent.

    And don’t forget about the D. It’s horrible.

    Berube will end up taking the fall eventually and unfortunately, but no coach is going to turn this roster into a contender.

    1. While the roster is sub par there is blame to put on berube. If anything his player evaluation is very scary. Bench bellemare but consistently play umberger? Scratch Del Zotto but keep playing Grossmann. These are just some of the questionable peronnel moves that he has made.

    2. Mucking and grinding is the ‘Flyer Way’ and it is the only system Berube could possibly know. If you change the roster to get more skilled players, do you think Berube is the guy to coach them?

  7. SELL. THE . TEAM. BRING. IN. A. WINNER. or don’t. who cares. just give the fans their orange towels and they’ll be back.

  8. Am I the only person who wouldn’t mind Tortorella as Flyers head coach?

    Him and Hextall and Snider. All the egos there, wow. Win or lose, entertainment is certain.

    GIVE ME SOME TORTS!

    He may teach these clowns a thing or two about defense too.

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