I’m not trying to start the talk radio debate about the most important position in sports. You wanna argue till you’re blue in the face that playing quarterback in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE is the toughest? Have at it. I’d contend that a 1A to quarterback is standing between the pipes of 72″ x 48″ net while a disk of vulcanized rubber is propelled through the air at 90mph. I’d elevate the position’s importance in Philadelphia, where -I don’t know if you’ve heard- the Flyers haven’t had a rock-solid net minder in… [looks at records] nearly thirty years since Ron Hextall. Even then, Hextall was far from elite. The late Pelle Lindbergh aside -seeing as we’ll never know how good he truly could have been- the last great Flyers goaltender was Bernie Parent back in the 70s.
“But, Russ, the Flyers had a Vezina Trophy winner in their organization and they traded him away.”
Fair, but it was never going to work here. Ed Snider practically forced the hand of former GM Paul Holmgren to sign Ilya Bryzgalov, who flat-out refused to mentor or help a young Sergei Bobrovsky.
This isn’t a matter of Philly fans being out of their minds or blowing the goalie issue out of proportion. When we sat down with head coach Alain Vigneault and mentioned Hart, his response -amid a smirk and chuckle- was, “So I’ve been told.” That’s why Carter Hart’s performance on Wednesday night, featuring the first shutout of his NHL career, wasn’t just big. It was… humongous big. In fact, it’s the biggest thing to happen to a Philadelphia sports team in the past few months.
(Side note: Save your Kapler firing cheers for joy. The Phillies are a fundamentally flawed organization and kept the architects of a mediocre-at-best franchise in favor of cleaning house like they should’ve done. Also, the Ben Simmons three was delightful and could prove to be the most important added dimension to a Philly team this side of DeSean Jackson popping the top off an opposing defense. I digress…)
Hart didn’t just make the saves. He dominated the Devils. He embarrassed them: