Monday, 4 July 2011

Another Failure, Another Blow-Up In Philly

Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren is going to have to learn some patience. If every plan of his doesn't work out in the first few tries, Philly fans are going to see an entirely different team hit the ice every three or four years.The first time, it was completely warranted. He took over a last-place team in early 2006-07 that was horribly mismanaged after the lockout and went to the conference final in 2008 and the Stanley Cup final in 2010. But they collapsed after a strong start and were swept from the playoffs for the first time since the 1997 Stanley Cup final. Changes were expected, but a complete overhaul was completely unexpected.

Eight players from their final game against Boston are gone now. Regardless of how you feel about the players traded, it is alarming complete rebuilds are becoming the norm for the Flyers' GM. Like I said the first one was completely necessary as the Flyers were too slow to compete in the new NHL. So out went Peter Forsberg, Kyle Calder, Randy Robitaille, Alexei Zhitnik, Peter Nedved and Freddy Meyer during the season and Joni Pitkanen, Geoff Sanderson, Todd Fedoruk, Mike York and Rob Esche in the off season.

They were replaced by Danny Briere, Scott Hartnel after winning the Presidents' Trophy, Kimmo Timonen, Brayden Coburn, Joffrey Lupul, Scottie Upshall, Jason Smith, and Martin Biron. Holmgren did such a good job turning this team into a contender and Ken Campbell praised his work in the May 16 issue of The Hockey News. Campbell said of Holmgren:
When you look at the Flyers as presently constituted, you can trace them directly back to the moves Holmgren made at the moment in time when things looked most bleak....But it was amid that scorched earth that Holmgren did his finest work.
He made some tweaks, sure. They were an offense-heavy team, so they were able to trade youngsters R. J.Umberger and Joffrey Lupul and added Chris Pronger. That addition alone nearly led to a championship, but the Flyers were still a few part away. They seemingly fixed that by acquiring Ilya Bryzgalov and a trade was certainly needed to clear cap space, but a total overhaul did not appear on the horizon. First was Carter, who I thought should be traded. I was about to write an article for The Hockey Writers about why he should be traded when he was. Then, following Carter was Richards, Kris Versteeg, Ville Leino, Darroll Powe, Dan Carcillo, Sean O'Donnell and Brian Boucher in favor of Jaromir Jagr, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Max Talbot and Andreas Lilja.

Campbell praised Holmgren for his ability to turn around a franchise so quickly when it takes some teams years. But is he going to be making a habit of it? It's really disappointing when a good team fails to reach the ultimate goal, but you need to give them some time to play together and work towards that goal. Being a consistent contender is pretty much the best you can hope for in this league and if you can break through and win the Stanley Cup, all the better.

Look at San Jose. They failed to get past the second round of the playoffs the first four years after the lockout, even falling in the first round to Anaheim in 2009 after winning the Presidents' Trophy. But instead of blowing the team up and starting over as many pundits said they should, they stuck with their course and have been to the conference final in each of the past two years.That consistency is largely to due with the fact they have been kept together. The Flyers are going to have trouble developing good team chemistry if they keep changing their key players every few years.

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