Can a Bandwagon Flyers Fan Be Welcomed Back Into The Fold?

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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16 Responses

  1. The full length of the ice goal Mason let up was against he Caps, but other than that – spot on. It’s my fault for following the team all these years. With that said, yeah man, jump back on. Who the hell cares? For the fans that get pissed off about it, it’s really the only thing they have in their lives, so just feel bad for them. It always makes the spring more fun when the entire city is behind a team. This year might not be the year for them though, I wouldn’t consider them a true contender. But then again, if there’s one sport where that really doesn’t automatically preclude a team from winning a title, it’s hockey.

  2. The Flyers are a disgrace and will miss the playoffs again. Vigneault is a crap coach and the players will hate him soon enough.

  3. Head over to Broad Street Hockey. You can watch a game. And then the next day find out that everything you thought was a good play was actually a bad game. Hey, that guy had 2 goals and an assist! And finished with a plus 4! Awesome game!

    “Well no, his CF was only .43!

    That defensive pairing was on the ice for 2 Flyers goals and didn’t give up any goals! Can’t complain about that!

    “No. Actually they were lucky. Very lucky. Their XGF was 39%!”

    The good news is anytime the Flyers lose you can find out that that they won the Corsi score.

  4. Its like I wrote this article. The Flyers ineptitude for 10 years was punishment enough and allows us to come and go as needed. The orange I bled was all drained out in that time period and it will take a real solid cup run to get me officially back. Not totally convinced yet, been burnt too many times.

  5. Repent, you filthy peasant.
    Also this article sounds like you tried to justify the abandonment by Googling for things that happened in the meantime.
    Feel free to be a fan, but if I ever meet you at a game I reserve the right to pour the proverbial beer on you.

  6. Welcome back (slides over to make room on the bench). I never understand why people make other people feel that have to watch every agonizing minute of crap sports to be a true fan just like I never understand why some make fun of others for their devotion to watch said crap. I’m the latter …I watch through thick, thin and transparent but hockey is my sport. Grab a beer and enjoy …it’s a solid, deep, fun team.
    As for you points, there were a lot that were spot on but as far as Hextall merely keeping the lights on, that is not true. He acquired a lot of the talent that is helping this team right now and will for the forseeable future …he just had trouble pulling the trigger on bettering the team in the present.

  7. I am older now was a 13 year old when the Flyers won the cup. Since Ed Snider died it is not the same. The whole Kate Smith thing. Gritty. It used to be about the game of hockey. No we have Gritty to get kids to come to the games. The LGBQ night . That’s all well and good .But you can’t erase history. Hockey is a tough sport. Embrace your past and history and also incorporate the new changing world. It’s safe to say there would be no Gritty or all the other things that the new management is bringing in. The loud music as soon as play stops they blast the tunes an have an emcee to play games that have nothing to do with hockey. It’s all good but let’s get back to the reason you come. The game of hockey.

  8. The sad part is that as a reporter who works for this website, you’d think you’d get your facts straight. To imply the team was leaving old philosophies behind BEFORE Hextall got here is hilarious. That’s the reason idiot Homer was moved out/up. The albatross contract to Bryz you mentioned was given to him by idiot Homer. Get a clue.

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