The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Every calendar in the Flyers’ wing of the Wells Fargo Center is from 1975. Gas is 30-cents a gallon. Scouts are desperately searching for grainy, reel-to-reel footage of the USSR national team in preparation for the huge, international exhibition tilt scheduled for the new year.
But yesterday a new intern walked into the facility with an iPhone and blew everyone’s mind. Wifi became a thing. Gas shot up to over $2 a gallon. Donald Trump went from a young, cocaine hungry boob to our current cocaine hungry boob of a president.
And the Flyers fired Ron Hextall from his GM position, another vaunted visage of a more successful past hired to bring the Flyers back into relevancy.
I’ll be the first to admit that the Flyers passed me by after their surprise cup run nearly a decade ago. I know Giroux is still on the team (and still dividing the fanbase), Wayne Simmonds is still on his last legs, and Jake Voracek remains frustratingly inconsistent.
Oh, and that the Flyers still don’t have a goalie. Everyone knows that.
What I do know for certain is the Flyers have absolutely no identity. Are they a skill team? A mucking and grinding team? A defensive team? An offensive team? Or is the Flyers front office and ownership, headed by lunkhead Paul Holmgren and Senior Vice President Bobby Clarke, still bogged down 40 years in the past?
Hextall had successful drafts, maneuvered the Flyers out of the salary cap hell that Holmgren had buried them in and seemed to right the franchise’s ship after years of mismanagement.
But he was frustratingly stubborn. He likely refused to fire dead carp Dave Hakstol and move on from the inept coach, never urged the coach to play more of the young prospects over the below-average veterans he leaned so heavily on, and never pulled the trigger on a trade to improve the team in the present.
Five years and the franchise is still in limbo, still stuck in its believe that what worked in the 70s is going to work now.
No franchise in this city is more infatuated with its past than the Flyers. The front office, the assistant coaches, the leadership from top to bottom are former Flyers. You can’t throw a rock in the Wells Fargo Center without hitting an employee who logged at least a few seasons with the boys in Orange and Black.
And where has that gotten them? It hasn’t translated into success at a championship level since 1975. It hasn’t translated into playoff success in five seasons. Most alarmingly, it hasn’t translated into fans coming out to games this season.
The Flyers have drawn their lowest per game attendance in the past decade, an alarming figure for a team that’s always drawn fans in this city. Maybe that’s not all surprising when you have a coach with the tepid personality of a bowl of gray mush and you’re leaning heavily on a new mascot to drive sales?
So while the firing of Hextall seems like a step in the right direction, will it be successful if Holmgren takes the reigns again? If Chris Pronger is hired? If Dan Kordic is brought back from his life of isolation in the Canadian wilderness to navigate the delicate salary cap balance needed in today’s NHL?
It’s time to move on from the past. Fuck the 70s, fuck the Broad Street Bullies, and fuck the golden years.
It’s time to forge ahead and carve out a new identity for this team….and to finally find a mother fucking goalie.
Go buy Gritty stuff by clicking the banner below. He’s probably our best bet for a new GM anyways.