There has been a lot of talk about what is wrong with the Flyers lately; we need a pure goal scorer, Kevin Hayes is lazy, JvR is slow, the defense is weak, Carter Hart is shaky. While all of these statements might have an air of truth about them, I have my own thoughts on the matter, and it comes down to this: there simply aren’t enough Flyers on this team.
Before you call for the guys in the white coats, allow me to explain. I know there is a complete roster of professional hockey players donning an orange and black sweater emblazoned with the emblem that is now on my back in indelible ink. It has always felt wearing that sweater does not make you a Flyer. I have always believed that being a Flyer is far more than signing a contract and wearing orange and black, it is a way of life. It is about guts, heart, pride and being a family. It’s about loyalty.
Mike Sielski, who recently wrote a piece on Carter Hart and how he is a problem this year, has never understood what the Flyers are all about. Early on as his tenure covering the Flyers, he wrote a piece that irks me to this day. He talked about how the Flyers have always hired and promoted from within, and how they needed some outside blood, some fresh perspective, to make them Cup contenders. Well, Mike, we have that now, so please explain to me why the team has gone so bad? Why it has been embarrassed to the point that even I am not watching the games to completion?
Sielski can’t explain it, because he doesn’t understand this team, the heart and soul that it takes to be a Flyer. I have made no secret that Chuck Fletcher was dead to me after he traded Wayne Simmonds, and I truly believe that move is what has caused the downfall of the current iteration of the team I have loved for as long as I can remember. Yes, Simmonds was my favorite player; and yes, I will finally admit that I, of my own free will, purchased a Maple Leafs sweater adorned with Simmonds name and number. I am tired of hiding that fact, along with a lot of other aspects of my current situation, but that is an entirely different topic. Why did I buy that sweater? It might be blue on the outside, but deep down, it is orange and black; it is the sweater of a Flyer.
Simmonds was, and always will be a Flyer. While I might not be able to define what being a Flyer is, I can tell you who is a Flyer. Men like Rick Tocchet, who could score, defend and would beat your ass if you so much as looked cross eyed at any of the players who were considered the scores on his team. Tim Kerr, once described by Doc Emerick as stronger than a garlic milkshake, he will always be a Flyer. Ron Hextall? He didn’t need the defense to clear the porch…you were in his crease, he made sure you paid for it. Kimmo. Riley Cote. Danny Briere. Bernie Parent. Bobby Clarke. They were, and always will be Flyers.
Of the current roster, the players that are Flyers are scarce. Oskar Lindblom, yes. That doesn’t require any justification; he beat Cancer’s ass and came back to play the game I love in less than a year. (And if he does NOT win the Masterton trophy this year, so help me I am going postal). Giroux will also always be a Flyer, if only because of The Shift; you remember, the playoff game when he laid Crosby out and scored on the first shift of the game? I think Claude needs to find his inner Flyer again, but he is a Flyer. Travis Koneckny has the makings of a lifetime Flyer, but he needs to find it again as well. Scott Laughton, with his serial killer looks, yep, he is a Flyer. Joel Farabee is also showing early signs of bleeding orange and black, but other than these guys, I really don’t see much of what I have always loved about this team.
A Flyer would have been beating some ass last night. A Flyer would have taken care of business when Oskar took a cheap shot a few games ago. There is absolutely no shame in losing any game; but a FLYER would have been embarrassed by that 9-0 loss to the Rangers, which, by the way happened on the same night that I had that emblem tattooed onto my shoulder, that even if they lost the rematch, gloves would have been dropped. Messages would have been sent. FLYERS don’t let you come into our house and have your way like the Rangers did.
By: Phyllis Hunter (@flyersfan1129)
photo credit nhlrumors.com