2021 has been one hell of a year for hockey in Philadelphia. It saw the collapse at the end of the 2020-21 campaign and things haven’t gotten much better early in the 2021-22 season either. This isn’t venting about the struggles of the team or perceived causes, that was touched upon last week, this is about how I feel as a fan these days.
I grew up into this mess know as Philadelphia sports. My parents were huge Flyers fans (also Phillies fans, thanks for that, too), and as a child of the late 90’s, my house was adorned with Eric Lindros and Legion of Doom merch. I’ve had an autographed picture of Shjon Podein that’s followed me my whole life since I was a kid. I watched hockey games every night whilst practicing violin or piano, probably why I never excelled at either of those instruments.
The Cup run in 2010 and later the 2012 Flyers/Pens series sealed my fandom for the rest of my life.
But lately, it’s been difficult to muster any real passion about the Flyers. It’s been literal years since I looked forward to watching a game. For those of you that may not know, I have a massive hockey jersey collection. Currently over 200 and have owned over 500 in my lifetime, most if which being Flyers jerseys. I’m absolutely embarrassed to wear a Flyers jersey in public these days.
When you’re angry it’s because you care, right? This team has brought me nothing but anger and misery for a majority of the last decade at this point. I’ve been an angry Twitter personality for almost a decade, been a writer for over six years and the head of the Brotherly Puck empire for three years. It’s a long time to dedicate to something that pushes me closer and closer to a stroke or brain hemorrhage every day.
But these days I’m starting to realize it’s not anger anymore. It’s just apathy and dread. Knowing every night I need to come home from work and spend three hours of my life watching the Flyers attempt to play hockey, It’s become more of a chore instead of an escape.
When did this feeling start to happen? Quite frankly it has probably been building for quite some time. Even though I never really bought into the Hextall “process” there was always supposed to be a light at the end of the tunnel. And as Metallica’s No Leaf Clover would say “Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel was just a freight train coming your way.”
Though there never was a light at the end was there? We were sold a bill of goods by the previous regime and people bought it hook, line and sinker. At least back then there was a fallacy to believe in, ya know? The golden carrot was always within the realm of possibility, just always out of reach. Now the promise isn’t even there. The current roster isn’t good enough, and even though there are some interesting prospects in the system, none hold the promise of being the savior this team needs.
I love what I do here at Brotherly Puck. I challenge myself to write at least five articles a week for this website, and anywhere from five to seven shows a week on Brotherly Pod. It’s a workload unmatched in the Flyers scene today. I take pride in the content I’m able to produce and thankful for the thousands of people a week that indulge. Yet circling my life and passion around something I am growing less and less enchanted with has me looking in the mirror simply saying “what am I doing with my life?” Why am I giving so much time and effort to something that cleary doesn’t love me back?
I’ll keep watching the games. I’ll keep writing things for the website and hosting podcasts for Brotherly Pod, but I don’t think I’m afraid to admit I don’t love this hockey team anymore. If things change and they can one day put a decent product on the ice, maybe that passion and love I once had will return, but I think the childlike enjoyment that I once had has died.
All I want is a a fun product but that dream seems to be getting further and further away. Growing up knowing a franchise that cared and was as welcoming as the Flyers versus sitting here as a grown man watching them smolder is a rude awakening. It’s a kick in the stomach that hasn’t been easy to shake off and for the first time in my life I’m questioning my fandom.
I just want my hockey team back.
maybe one day.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: bardown.com