In case you haven’t been paying attention, Chuck Fletcher isn’t exactly a popular man in Philadelphia these days. He forced the Flyers through a miserable offseason where he refused to make any significant changes, opting instead to run it back primarily with a team that finished fourth worst in the league last season. With such an… interesting… approach to the offseason, he put all of his eggs in a roster with very little proven talent and a whole lot of potential from youngsters who are looking to make their mark on the Flyers.
Chuck Fletcher promised an aggressive retool to the fans and Dave Scott ranted and raved about blank checks, yet they both failed to deliver on those promises. Fletcher during his day one of free agency press conference claimed he saw through his plan despite only signing Nic Deslauriers during the day. The organization telling the fans one thing but doing another, just blatantly lying to the faces of the fanbase, should be a major scandal, but the front office’s repeated nonsense has been laid on so hot and heavy for years that it barely raises an eyebrow. Just another day of being a Flyers fan.
Because of the pseudo-high-risk decision making, the walls around Fletcher feel as though they’re starting to close in and it’s just a matter of time before he gets the axe. Is there any outcome of the 2022-23 Flyers season that would save his job?
The problem is from an optics standpoint, a vast majority of the fanbase has already made their decision about the guy. It’s hard to think of a conclusion to the upcoming season that will turn the fans’ opinion back to a positive light.
At this point it seems like a reach, but what if everything works out for the best for the Flyers in 2022-23?
What if Carter Hart plays lights out, all three defense pairs are playing to their potential and the middle six and depth are solid, filled by Noah Cates, Owen Tippett and Wade Allison.
What’s still missing? Basically an entire top line.
A top goal scorer who can crack the 30-goal plateau, a top playmaker who hovers around the point-per-game mark and a young, dynamic bonafide number one center. Ya know, like two-time 40-goal scorer Alex DeBrincat or 100-point forward Johnny Gaudreau, both of which could’ve been had during the offseason. And don’t forget about 25-year-old center Jack Eichel, who was available less than a year ago.
If they ultimately miss the playoffs, but hang around in the hunt for a wildcard spot, the fact they didn’t do anything to insulate the roster will seem like Fletcher doesn’t have the stomach to make the big moves that could push the team over the goal line, especially since they spent the whole summer talking about an aggressive retool yet walked away empty handed.
On the flip side, what if things don’t go well at all?
Fletcher opted to run it back with a roster that finished fourth worst in the league last season and voluntarily passed on adding Johnny Gaudreau who wanted to play for his team. He refused to make a single noteworthy change to the roster when things clearly are trending in the wrong direction. It’s gross negligence at its absolute finest. If this train is off the rails by Christmas, does Fletcher even make it to the end of the season? Not only will his job be on the line but he’ll look like a goddamned idiot for letting a team with two of the worst seasons in franchise history in back-to-back go majorly unchanged.
Possibly the most likely outcome of the 2022-23 season is that they’re slightly better than last season, finishing around 10th worst in the league and still miss the playoffs. They’re still a middling team with no notable outside improvements and none of their homegrown talent are top stars.
Do they still sell a marginally improved record as a big win to the fans?
“We’re trending in the right direction” “One more season with the same roster and we’ll surely have success”
Will a tired, emotionally beaten down fanbase go for something like that?
If the Flyers get within ten points of a wildcard spot at season’s end, it poses the question, one was asked quite a bit during the Hextall era- why didn’t they add a bit of outside talent rather than counting solely on interior improvements? Fletcher could’ve actually made something of this team. A Gaudreau-type player could easily be the difference maker between making the postseason and missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season for the first time since 1992.
The 2022 offseason feels like a prime example of complete failure. A situation that we’ll look back on in a few years as what could’ve been the turning point for the franchise, moves that could’ve been made to save themselves, but Fletcher unsurprisingly whiffed on the opportunity to establish his hockey team.
Even if the youth they’re banking on pan out, adding legitimate outside talent only serves to bolster the kids. For some reason, there seems to be a thought patter that it has to be one or the other. You craft a team primarily of draft picks, or a team composed mainly of free agent signings and trades. Apparently a happy medium, a situation that every single successful team in the league utilizes, is a path the Flyers just can’t comprehend. Ron Hextall couldn’t grasp that concept, and apparently neither can Chuck Fletcher.
Chuck Fletcher took a chance by not taking a chance. He made his bed and if the poorly constructed roster pans out as mediocre as expected, there doesn’t appear to be a way he has a job going into next summer. He’s going to have to pay for his sins, and the cost is finding his useless ass in the unemployment line until he can convince some other unfortunate team that he deserves one more kick at the can.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: inquirer.com