Incompetence Reigns Supreme: Thoughts after Penguins 6, Flyers 2

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers lost a hockey game that never should have been played on Thursday.

Everyone knew it was going to happen. It was a foregone conclusion once the NHL screwed them over because of six healthy and asymptomatic players being forced to watch from home because they are in the increasingly mismanaged COVID protocol.

In their place, some minor leaguers gutted it out and gave their best effort, but were no match for a Pittsburgh team that has now won 10 straight games.

There are one or two things to dive into regarding the play on the ice after this debacle, but we’ll get to those in another post.

For now there are two massive, corporate entities that need to have their feet held to the fire, and for different reasons, and that will be the crux of this post today.

The NHL proves it doesn’t care about its product

How can it? How can it honestly defend itself after what took place leading up to and then including the Penguins-Flyers game?

Let’s follow the timeline here:

  • Prior to the game in Anaheim Tuesday, Claude Giroux and Ivan Provorov are put into the COVID Protocol, mere hours before the game. The Flyers already had two players in protocol (Nick Seeler and Jackson Cates) and, at the time, four players injured (Derick Brassard would return from his injury Thursday).
  • According to multiple league sources, the Flyers wanted to have the game postponed because of how shorthanded they were, but the league didn’t want to bag the game because of how difficult it would be to reschedule a cross-country trip for just one game. So they played. The shorthanded Flyers lost.
  • After the game, Flyers goalie Carter Hart criticized the NHL for how they are handling the protocol, and called it “a joke.”
  • On Thursday morning, the Flyers added two more players to the protocol in Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim. This ran the Flyers COVID list to six players (and multiple staff members as well). According to multiple league sources the Flyers once again requested postponement as their roster was now severely compromised. Once again, the NHL denied the postponement, This time, according to the sources, it was done because the game was a national game on new TV rights holder ESPN’s streaming platform. Meaning, the game was national, but was only available through ESPN+, a subscription based streaming option that is often bundled with both Hulu and Disney+. ESPN strategically selected popular rivalry games for the exclusive rights, stream-only availability, rewarding fans who already bought the package, or trying to milk new money out of fans who were pissed that it wasn’t available through traditional television needs.
  • In addition, ESPN begrudgingly already gave up one of these streams when the Capitals-Flyers game on Dec. 22 was postponed when the league decided to pause for the holidays early to try to manage the spread of COVID, and ESPN did not want to lose another national game.
  • Later Thursday, the NHL postponed three games in Canadian cities because of audience restrictions. Not because the players on the teams were riddled with COVID, or like the Flyers were completely asymptomatic but thrown into protocol anyway, but rather because they couldn’t get enough butts in seats, which would hurt revenue streams.
  • Even later on Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks, who had one player on the protocol list in the morning, added four new players to the protocol, upping their total to five. And although five is still fewer than six (the number of Flyers in the protocol), the NHL still postponed the Ducks game against Detroit because of COVID concerns.

I tweeted about both these things and as of this morning they are still being retweeted, liked, shared, etc.

Here was one that particularly caught my eye:

You think Ryanne Giroux and her husband didn’t have the same discussion? You think Hart calling the whole thing a “joke” was accidental? You think these players and teams find what the NHL is doing to be flying by the seat of their pants and screwing up more often than not?

It’s embarrassing.

You can’t do anything about injuries. If players are hurt. They’re hurt. Every team deals with injuries.

But the NHL is who is putting players in and out of protocol. This is not injury-related. This is completely outside of team control. And what makes it worse, is the league is the sole arbiter of whether a game is postponed or not, and has not been consistent with its reasoning behind playing certain games while postponing others.

We’ve seen this before. If you remember last season, the Flyers were ravaged by a COVID outbreak, and this was before vaccines were readily available to most, however, because the NHL was holding the game against Boston outdoors at Lake Tahoe, in an expensive venture for the league and with millions in sponsorship money on the table, they made the game happen anyway. The Flyers were woefully undermanned, and blown out by the Bruins.

But man, didn’t it look pretty on TV? And, woah, wasn’t that financial windfall from sponsorships and television all worth it?

Same thing Thursday.

I hope ESPN got what it wanted out of their honestly awful coverage. Many fans in Philly couldn’t find the game. Those that did had trouble streaming it because there were latency issues. Then, if you found it, It was 3-0 before you could blink. ESPN had limited angles (read: only one) on replays to check on a called-off Flyers goal and a later added Penguins goal after review.

I wonder how many people wanted to watch the game that gave up looking for it when they heard it was 3-0. Or, if they found it, bailed on the stream at 3-0?

Hope ESPN and the NHL are happy about this.

One industry insider texted me the following:

“This game should’ve never been played. I agree with all your and everybody else’s tweets. That’s bullshit. Such bullshit. It’s all about the money. When you have a gate-driven league, this is what happens.”

Oh, and because this tweet of mine was getting a lot of traction, some Canadiens fans decided to chime in with their typical whine (Seriously. They are the most whiny fans in all of North American sports. It’s just awful. I don’t often sympathize with Boston fans, but I understand the hatred. It’s non-stop and it’s gross.)

I got several tweets like this:

Want to know the difference? –

  • The Canadiens already have had 10 games postponed. The Flyers, just three.
  • The Canadiens are getting games postponed now because YOU can’t go into the stadium, not because they can’t field a team.
  • Canada’s COVID policy is worse than what’s going on in America, if that’s even possible.

But, hey, keep giving all your loonies and toonies to these teams to support a Mickey Mouse operation of a league. Because, you have to be looney-tunes not to see how piss poor of an operation this really is.

Comcast-Spectacor proves (again) it hates the past and insists you do, too

January 6th is a very important date in Flyers history.

It was the Day the Flyers set the all-time record for most consecutive games without a loss in North American sports at 35 straight back in 1980.

Oh, it’s also the birth date of the team’s founder Ed Snider.

Not that the organization reminded you of either.

While it doesn’t take much to put together a calendar of important dates in franchise history to put out on social media as a reminder to anyone who might be feeling nostalgic, we can kind of, sort of, maybe, give Comcast-Spectacor a pass on missing the date of the last game of the historic 35-game unbeaten streak.

I mean, it’s only a record that is now 42 years old and counting.

And we give them the pass because, well, the league kinda saved their bacon on this one:

But to go an entire day without an acknowledgement of Ed Snider’s birthday, is about as despicable and egregious as it gets for a franchise that continues to free fall into oblivion, but chooses to tell you that the rush of the wind through the hair feels amazing.

Dave Scott is like Nero, fiddling while Rome burns down around him.

Valerie Camillo is like Yoko Ono. Systematically dismantling a legendary franchise from within.

There are underlings below them, who don’t need to be called out by name because they are just doing the bidding of these leaders, who operate more like the Three Stooges law firm of Dewey, Burnham, and Howe.

It’s absolutely astonishing not just to me, but to every Flyers fan in the city, to fellow media members, to former players, to people who aren’t even fans of this organization, that you can let an entire day go by without even a simple acknowledgment of the birthday of the founder of the franchise.

It’s like they don’t even realize and it needs to be screamed in their face – YOU WOULDN’T HAVE THE CUSHY JOB YOU HAVE TODAY WERE IT NOT FOR ED SNIDER!!!

In fact, it was yelled in their face, and they still did nothing about it.

Ed Snider Youth Hockey, which used to have an office in the Wells Fargo Center (wonder what happened there?) and which used to get money contributed to their mission by the 50/50 raffle at Flyers games, not only celebrated Jan. 6 as #EdSniderDay but had all their players where a sticker on their helmets with the No. 89, since yesterday would have been Snider’s 89th birthday.

They celebrated on social media all day.

The Flyers had to see it, right? They had to know, right? They couldn’t be this oblivious. Ignoring his birthday can be nothing short of intentional.

And that’s what the franchise did.

On a night when they were featured on national television, no less. They could have used a commercial break to have the camera zoom in on Snider’s banner hanging from the rafters, and then put a picture up on the video board saying something like “Remembering our founder on his birthday. Thank You, Mr. Snider.”

That’s all it would have taken. A simple gesture. Not even 30 seconds. The fans would have applauded. They organization would have gotten some golf clap plaudits. And everyone would have moved on with a smile.

But instead, the vindictive nature that exudes from the top of the company, leads to more anger, frustration and vitriol on social media.

Oh, sure, the powers that be will blame us. “There goes Crossing Broad again, flipping out about something no one cares about.” Right. We’re being nitpicky again. How dare we sit here and criticize poor business management? Why do we care? No one else cares enough to even write anything. Why can’t you just focus on the team?

I’ll tell you why. Because our job here is to hold the people we cover accountable in their jobs. If the play on the ice sucks, we’ll question the coach. The general manager. The players themselves. We’ve never pulled punches there and we won’t in the future.

But, no matter what kind of coverage other outlets provide, we cover the WHOLE team here, and if the organization is fraught with incompetence on its business side too, we’ll say it.

Not recognizing Ed Snider’s birthday is a level of incompetence that has not been seen in this city from ownership in a long, long time.

I mean, not even a tweet. A tweet! It would have taken less than 30 seconds. A simple acknowledgement. What is the deal? Why are you so adverse to recognizing the past? And yes, I am talking directly to those in charge now. Writing instructors would have skewered me for changing this post frequently from third person to first person back to third person and now to second person, but to hell with writing convention when there is something to be passionate about.

And, for the record. It’s. Not. Just. Me.

OK… It’s not just me and Russ…

OK… it’s not just Snow the Goalie… OK… here we go… former player…

And, from a legend….

Now to the fans….

I’ll stop there. But there are HUNDREDS of tweets just like this. But, you know, like the Comcast-Spectacor people tell me it’s just us guys at Crossing Broad/Snow the Goalie constantly making a big deal out of nothing.

But the tweet of all tweets, maybe for the 21st Century as far as hockey tweets are concerned. Is this one. This is the all-time champ. Retire the belt now. Bronze it and pin it atop hockey Twitter for all to see.

Shut. It. Down.

For more Flyers coverage, follow Snow The Goalie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also be sure to tune into The Press Row Show as Anthony SanFilippo and Russ Joy provide pregame and intermission coverage of every Flyers home game from press row of the Wells Fargo Center via the Crossing Broad Facebook page, YouTube Live, and Twitter, and their Twitter accounts   

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