An Open Letter to David A. Scott

Dear Mr. Scott,

            As a passionate fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, myself and many others tuned in with interest to watch the press conference that was held by yourself and Chuck Fletcher at 11 AM on Wednesday January 26, 2022.  This press conference was held to discuss the state of the team; and while it was initially believed that it would only be General Manager Chuck Fletcher making a statement and answering questions, I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged that the Chairman of the Flyers was also in attendance.  After all, the upper management and ownership of any sports franchise should be together in lockstep with one another in terms of evaluating and assessing a teams current performance, as well as the vision and plan of the franchise moving forward.

            You were correct to state the disappointment that everyone feels regarding the performance of the Flyers this season.  Your assessment of injuries playing a significant role in that performance is also very true.  You stated that the goal is for the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup – as it should be.  You also acknowledged the impact and influence that Flyers founder and your predecessor, the late Ed Snider has had and continues to have on both you and the franchise.

            You also said some things that are incorrect, but we will get to that in due time.

            As you know, the Flyers have always been about family.  Ed Snider ingrained that culture into this franchise and it has rubbed off on its fans.  The demands he placed on everyone associated with the team became the expectations that fans placed on it.  It is why his name and legacy will forever be synonymous with this organization and the city of Philadelphia.

            The thing about family though is that they are there to let you know when you are on the right path and they are there to let you know when you are on the wrong one.  Family is different from some types of friends or co-workers who agree with you mostly because they lack the courage to disagree or just want to avoid confrontation.  Family is supposed to be about giving it to you straight, whether you like it or not.

            So here goes:  Dave Scott you are wrong.  Totally wrong.  This franchise is on the wrong path.  It has lost it’s way. 

            Let’s answer the obvious question:  Why should you listen to me?  I am just one fan with one point of view.  One that is angry and disappointed with the season as it is playing out.  Do I really accurately reflect the disenchantment, disengagement, and frustration that fans have with this Flyers team and the organization?

             For the sake of argument, don’t listen to me.  Rather take a look at the mounting evidence that gets more damning with each passing week.  Look at the dropping attendance figures at the Wells Fargo Center.  Listen to former Captain, Hockey Hall of Famer, and General Manager of the Flyers Bobby Clarke talk about the state of the organization on a recent podcast.  Look at the prices of tickets on the secondary resale market.  Ask members of the Flyers Alumni how valued they feel.  Look at how Flyers fans outside of the Philadelphia market are not supporting this team during road games to nearly the extent that they usually do.  Examine the numbers of season ticket holders that are declining to renew their commitment to the Flyers. Listen to the outcry when you neglected to pay even the most minor tribute to Ed Snider on his birthday.

            What has your response been?  More of the same lip service that has been given to attempt to appease the masses and defuse some of the anger and resentment that has been building and is at a boiling point.  Promises of returning to playoff contention next season, promises of “blank checks” and giving Chuck Fletcher every available resource, and continuing in the belief that things are going to get better with short-term fixes and band-aid solutions.

            Fans have heard these same empty words far too often and they have lost their effect.  The thing that is different this time around is that you said you were “sorry”.  That and you gave us a Gritty themed video game in the midst of the team’s second ten game losing streak of the season (and has since continued).

            The apology was a nice touch (the video game was an insult) and it broke from the same script and playbook that you have been working from at various points for the last nine years that you have been here.  However; for an apology to actually resonate and mean something to this fan base, it needs to come with a change in behavior and a commitment to an organizational shift in how it carries on and conducts its business.  

            This goes far beyond just the results on the ice.  It is about the relationship that this team has with its fans.  Fans are fed up with the same regurgitated plays from an outdated public relations playbook.  We all want results to come, but just as important is that this team and the stewards and architects of it communicate a clear vision and pathway to how this team is going to get back to relevance.

            Take a step back and listen to voices that are not in your inner circle of decision making.  Instead of continuing on with the same actions and expecting a different outcome, try to assess what could happen if you try to do things differently.  Think a bit more out of the box.  No one is perfect and no plan is perfect.  But the remedy that you outlined and the goal of winning a Stanley Cup will absolutely not be realized if you continue to rehash and recycle the same actions and behaviors that have gotten us to this point.  Trying to do damage control will be a futile effort that will only see ticket sales and fan apathy get worse.  Don’t be afraid to take a step backwards for a season or two.  Fans may not be initially happy, but they will fully respect the shift in organizational focus if some short-term pain leads to the promise of playoff consistency and eventually Stanley Cup contention.  A well defined reset or regroup will not only help this roster fill holes and give management time to clear salary cap space; it will also be better for the Flyers financially especially once the rewards are reaped when the team is clearly on the upswing with a rejuvenated roster.  Fans will understand and they will respect you more for it because it is honest and it needs to be communicated with sincerity and conviction.

            The time to try something new and different is now.  The 2022 and 2023 NHL Drafts are an opportunity for this franchise to make the pivot necessary to build players that can be marketed by this franchise, reinvigorate fan interest, and can help fill some of the holes on this roster that have not been addressed for years.  Missing this opportunity will potentially be devastating to the mid-term and longer-term aspirations for contention.  Missing this opportunity could condemn this franchise to continuing the cycle of mediocrity that has gotten us to this point.

            But it doesn’t have to be this way.

            As the Chairman of the Philadelphia Flyers, you Dave Scott can break free from this continuing cycle.  You have the power to enact great change for this organization.  You can help right the ship with a new perspective; a differing perspective with all of the opportunity and excitement that can come of it if it is embraced and communicated properly to the fans of the Flyers.  

            Start with a letter to this fanbase.  After careful consideration, be honest and forthright with the people that support this team.  Remember, that Flyers fans despise phoniness and dishonesty.  Straight talk.  Be real.  Be genuine.  Be authentic.  Think beyond this season and into the next.  Let them know that this dire era of Flyers hockey is not acceptable and that the means and ways that this franchise operates will change starting now.     

            You acknowledged the legacy of Ed Snider in your remarks at the press conference.  What will you be remembered for in your time as Chairman of the Flyers?  A leader that was resistant to change and ignored the writing on the wall, or one that did what was right and initiated a mindset and culture change in an organization that desperately needed one?

            The golden opportunity to change the path that this organization is on is here.  It just needs someone with the vision, the will, and the determination to see it get there.

What will your legacy be?

Sincerely,

Manny Benevides

photo credit: nhl.com

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