I’m a bandwagon Flyers fan. I’ll admit it. I haven’t seriously paid attention to the team since the 2013-2014 season. Maybe the extraordinary energy it took to try and convince myself Steve Mason was a true number one goalie fried the last synapses of my fandom, but it was never the same after that year.

In my defense, there were some sorry, SORRY teams after that year. They made the playoffs twice, were never a threat to ever do anything in those playoffs, and seemed to be a rudderless ship, yo-yoing relevance to full-on rebuilding year by year.

They were purposeless. An afterthought in Philadelphia. We saw them lose the Stanley Cup in 2010 after a miraculous run, blinked, and they were still treading water nearly a decade later. Who has the energy for that shit? The franchise had no direction at all, no number one goalie, and the most exciting moment in the last five years was a new mascot that EVERYBODY hated when it was first unveiled.

But it wasn’t always this way. The Flyers were my TEAM growing up as a kid in the 90s with an unhealthy obsession with Dan Kordic and Dave Babych. The Legion of Doom was amazing. Eric Lindros’ brain hadn’t yet been turned into oatmeal by Scott Stevens. The myth of Maxime Ouellet, the enigmatic Quebec goalie who would be a franchise savior between the pipes, was still running strong in all of our minds.

But after years of wasted opportunities in the late 90s, middling success in the early 2000s (other than the kickass run in 2004) and a carousel of goalies and coaches, my confidence waned. Bobby Clarke’s resistance to an evolving NHL that was SO much different than the style and pace of play in the 70s, Paul Holmgren’s uncanny ability and penchant for trading talented prospects for aging veteran superstars who never panned out, and the Sisyphean ordeal of finding a franchise goalie who wouldn’t burst into flames after a single season of success or immediately become hated by his teammates was MADDENING.

And after 2014 that was it for me. Why put anymore effort into a franchise that was doomed to repeat the same mistakes it had been repeated for DECADES leading up to that failure of a season? No franchise goalie in sight. A superstar in Claude Giroux that the team couldn’t build around. A devotion to aging superstars. A 10-year contract to a nutjob goalie who couldn’t take the bright lights and pressure of playing in Phoenix.

And finally when it seemed like the franchise was moving on from the philosophies that kept them firmly anchored in the 70s and 80s, the team was turned over to Ron Hextall who, at best, kept the lights on for four seasons and a college coach in Dave Hakstol who was far too interested in putting talented young players in the doghouse in favor of far-less talented veterans. That can be a sound coaching strategy at times, but for it to work coaches need to remember to actually let the better players out of said doghouse and let them play.

Flyers fans were always too smart to believe the horseshit shoveled to them by Hakstol. Oh, Andrew MacDonald is actually our best defenseman when you account for the analytics! Travis Konecny will flourish on the fourth line! I had no idea Jori Lehterä was a cocaine kingpin in his native Finland!

His presence never made sense past the first year when it was obvious he couldn’t evolve from the mentality that made him such an effective coach in college.

But now? Hextall and Hakstol are out. Alain Vigneault is in and has his players believing they can actually make a run. Chuck Fletcher is sticking to his rebuilding process. The team is young, it’s talented, has a young number one (!) goalie that finally doesn’t seem like he’ll go crazy and could be around for more than three years… and I want back in.

I’m a bandwagon fan; what can I say! Am I so wrong with the Flyers, though? Can I jump back on this wagon and not worry about getting clotheslined off from the diehards that sat through season after season filled to the brim with the likes of Rob Zepp, Cal Heeter, Petr Mrazek, Calvin Pickard, or the countless other pieces of garbage that manned the pipes for the Flyers?

Can I jump back in, just like that? Can I pretend like nothing happened, show up at watch parties with a brand spanking new Konecny jersey, and jump right back in?

Or do I need to repent for my sins? Pay a penance? Self-flagellation with a knotted Roman Čechmánek jersey to make up for my years of absence?

Go Flyers.