…Aside from the recent slide, the argument can be made that no team matches up to the Flyers in the entire league, save possibly the Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings. I’m tired of the “Runner-Up” label too; I, like many Flyers fans, have never seen a Cup won by the Orange and Black in my lifetime, and I’d love for that to end this season. Still, so much has to happen between now and (hopefully) when the Flyers are playing in June.
There are still 15 games left in this regular season, and the Flyers have yet to truly distance themselves from the pack. Will they? Well, taking care of business against the next few teams that are out of the playoff picture will certainly help.
…Well, I don’t think many people saw THAT one coming. Jesus, Zherdev has really gone down-hill incredibly fast with the Flyers, despite scoring 15 goals in limited action this season. It seems that the fact that the team “couldn’t find him” last Friday night against Carolina when they were looking to replace the ill Mike Richards with Zherdev may have been the final straw. It’s a shame, really. Zherdev has all the talent in the world. Just no drive or push to be one of the best in the world. Hopefully someone can claim him and get his salary off the Flyers’ hands – just hope it’s a not a team jockeying for Eastern Conference positioning with the Flyers or a potential playoff opponent.
…I like Ville Leino now even more than I already did. In this day and age, it’s rare that an athlete sacrifices potential cashflow for the betterment of the team, but that’s exactly what Leino did here. He saw the chance of Kris Versteeg joining the Flyers as a potential final piece to a Stanley Cup puzzle, and told Homer to forget about contract negotiations now and add the former Cup champ with Chicago. The Flyers had better find a way to get Leino back into the fold this off-season, because after a self-less move like that, the Finn deserves it.
Thanks, again, to MrFlyerGuy for this. YouTube him.
…Homer talks about the Versteeg deal, Leino’s contract situation, the play of Bob and Boosh, and fighting’s place in the National Hockey League. This is a clip from the NHLLIVE! that aired on Feb 15, 2011.
Chris Pronger is still a little ways away from officially returning to the Flyers full time after having arthroscopic knee surgery on July 27, but that doesn’t mean the future Hall of Famer isn’t doing everything he possibly can to make sure that he can be prepared to play at the highest level come opening night. The Daily News‘ Frank Seravalli has more on this in today’s edition.
Seravalli makes note that Pronger’s time on the ice over the past five days has been his first time skating since the Flyers lost in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final on June 9. The Flyers defenseman also caught a bit of flack from the general public for having the surgery done so late in the off-season, instead of just having it done after the Flyers season came to an end, but Pronger explains to Seravalli, he “wanted to see if it could heal itself. It didn’t get much better – or any better at all. Ultimately, we found some things in [an] MRI and I had surgery the next week. I don’t know if I could have sped up the process at all.”
Later in the article, Pronger also notes how pleased he is with General Manager Paul Holmgren’s re-tooling of the Flyers’ blueline in the off-season. A potent foursome of Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle are joined by the likes of Andrej Meszaros, Sean O’Donnell, and Matt Walker to make up what Pronger calls “one of the deepest units” he’s played with over his 16 year NHL career. It’s hard to argue with him – the top six for the Flyers are going to be a talented bunch, and although there are certainly some older legs back there, it’s hard to argue against his opinion of the blueline.
To check out of all of Frank Seravalli’s article, click here:
I’m going to attempt to do something in this post that’s about as hard as I’ve ever done as a writer: say goodbye to one of my favorite Flyers in the history of the franchise.
Simon Gagne was more of a Flyer than any member of the current team, and only few in my lifetime represented the Flyers crest better than how Gagne did in his 10+ years in Philadelphia. And now, he is gone.
Never again will we hear Lou Nolan belt over the PA System at the Wachovia (Wells Fargo) Center, “Flyers goal scored by number twelve, SEEEEEEEMOAN GAAAHNNNNYAAAAYYYYY!!!” Never again will Gagne score for a case of TastyCakes. Never again will there be an assistant captain wearing the number 12 in Orange and Black (at least, there better not be).
But, perhaps most importantly, never again will Simon Gagne be a member of the Philadelphia Flyers’ on-ice product. And that, quite frankly, is heart breaking.
Instead, Gagne and his ten years of service to the Flyers are headed South – way South – to Tampa Bay and joining the Lightning. He’ll go from playing with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards to Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos. The trade-off for Gagne isn’t all that bad.
The Flyers? Well, they just about took the equivalent of a Walk of Shame in this deal. They traded away Gagne, who’s been a face of this franchise for the past decade, has worn an “A” on his sweater, and has always competed despite being slowed by injuries at times in recent years. They traded Gagne and got nothing.
Matt Walker, a defenseman who has done little to nothing in his five-plus years of service in the National Hockey League is what comes back to the Orange and Black. A defenseman. On a team that already had 7 under contract that were more than capable of handling the NHL play. And now there are 8 of them. For six spots.
Did I mention they also received a 4th round pick in the deal?
It’s not a good situation, Flyers fans. Not at all. Paul Holmgren was treading water in the deep end for a while, but its safe to say at this point that the consensus in Flyerdom is that he is officially drowning. Perhaps the saddest part of all this is that he is the only person capable of performing the rescue.
In the end, they’ll call Simon Gagne being dealt to Tampa Bay a cap-clearing deal. The sad part is that is exactly what it was. The even more pathetic part is that the deal was a direct result of the Flyers’ own doing. Sure, we all know they were close to the cap – it seems to be a yearly occurence. Still, this situation could have been avoided. Why sign Jody Shelley, why re-sign Dan Carcillo? What do those two men bring to the table that is so important it ended up ultimately being a deciding factor in the cap that sent Gagne packing? Is Nik Zherdev the answer on a one-year contract – precisely the amount of time Gagne had left in his deal?
There are plenty of questions, and very few answers. What we know right now is this: the Flyers still have a solid nucleus of fowards, but are missing perhaps their most important one. Their defense is as good as ever, but perhaps too deep, if that’s even possible. Their goaltending? Well, Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher or Johan Backlund isn’t exactly a combination that will make fans exhale. The team will be good, but it’s hard to say if they’ll be better.
Fans in Philadelphia were just starting to put their hearts back into place after having them ripped out by Patrick Kane in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Now, just as everything was seemingly returned to normal, one of our own, Paul Holmgren, has taken our hearts from us again in the form of dealing Simon Gagne.
It wasn’t Homer’s fault, but it was his doing. Simon Gagne was meant to be a Flyer for life, and every day he is in a different uniform will be a difficult one for many in South Philadelphia. He’ll have a great year in Tampa Bay, too, playing alongside names like Lecavalier, Stamkos, and St. Louis.
Deep down, I’ll be happy for him. It just hurts to see him gone.
Au Revoir, Simon. Bon Chance.
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