Marcus Hayes, the sportswriter equivalent of a poop Emoji, yesterday wrote about how to fix the Flyers, at the request of his editors. His suggestion: trade Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek:
It just seems foolish to waste two players’ prime years on a team destined for mediocrity. They will be relentlessly ground down the next two seasons, assuming Voracek stays, while the Flyers are hopelessly outclassed by at least five or six other clubs in the Eastern Conference and by at least as many in the West.
Two bad deals brought the Flyers costly, faded stars at forward. Bad luck cost them veteran defensemen.
That is the past.
Trading Giroux and Voracek frames the future.
For context: Hayes went on Anthony SanFilippo’s The Scoop Philly last night to talk about his point (1:08:00 mark). He made it clear that the how to fix the Flyers thing was an assignment from his editors and that he wasn’t taking shots at Voracek or Giroux (whom he called his favorite player to watch), but rather was simply suggesting one way to fix the team. “[Trade them for] younger players or draft picks or whatever,” Hayes told SanFilippo.
Fair enough. And it’s not a bad idea.
As sports fans, especially with players as beloved as Giroux and Voracek, we become enamored with stars, but more and more lately we’re seeing Moneyball-esque evidence that selling high on big names could pay off. The Red Sox blew up their team in 2012 and won with a made-over, less-star-laden club in 2013. The Blackhawks traded a bunch of guys after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, and then got right back there just a few years later.
The Phillies Giroux and Voracek are fan favorites, but G has a massive cap hit and Voracek will if he re-signs after next season. Each player would net the Flyers a significant haul for their rebuilding efforts. Quite frankly, it’s the same argument type OBs used to defend the Richards and Carter trades (in hindsight, largely correctly). But now Voracek is the star who has value and could himself be used to land a couple of draft picks and young prospects, even if it would drive fans crazy (until they drank the kool-aid and were totally cool with it OMG youuuur so dum for dissaggreeeing). Ditto for G.
Hayes, on The Scoop Philly, explained the impassioned nature of hardcore Flyers fans:
“The other thing is, there’s very little similar [to] the affinity that hockey fans have for their favorite player, because hockey players play so hard. You become invested in these guys. Every single Flyers fan likes their Flyer the way Phillies fans like Chase Utley. You’ve got 25 Chase Utleys playing hockey. And if you aren’t Chase Utley, you are absolutely despised. There is no room for half stepping in hockey. So the connection with the fans whether [it be] a tough go-getter, a super talented guy like Giroux … a hyper-talented guy like Voracek … the loyalty there is exponential compared to other sports.”
He’s spot-on. I’m going to call that the Zac Rinaldo Corollary— type OBs defend Rinaldo because he trys hard!, but largely ignore the fact that he is dumb and sucks.
Hayes’ points are good ones and would carry more weight if they existed in a vacuum. Unfortunately for Marcus, he wouldn’t fit inside even the largest industrial strength wet-dry vac, ergo we have to take into account his previous musings– specifically his continuous criticism of the Sixers. Upon further inspection, his critiques have been more targeted than the simplistic the Sixers owe it to fans to put a good product on the court argument used by the likes of Howard Eskin and even our friend Tony Bruno, but this is still a guy who argued that the Sixers owed it to mediocre Thad Young to re-sign him (Hinkie has turned Young into a whole bunch of assets). So you can’t, in one breath, claim that the Flyers need to blow it up and rebuild, and in another, criticize the Sixers for doing exactly the same thing. “What the Sixers have done… is way over the line as far as I’m concerned,” Hayes said. But really, how can you fault a team for fully buying into a suggested strategy? If you’re going to do that sort of thing, you have to own it. Chip Kelly is owning, Sam Hinkie is owning it, and Marcus, it seems, wants the Flyers to own it. But he can’t selective take that view without seeming like a big, fat hypocrite.