Flyers owner Ed Snider got a little testy during the new conference announcing Craig Berube’s ascension to head coach.
Why didn’t the franchise look outside the organization for a new coach? Why didn’t management seek to change the culture?
"We haven't won a championship, but we've been in the Stanley Cup Final a lot of times, and we've been in the playoffs a lot of times, and the culture is to win,” Snider told reporters. “Thirty teams are trying to win the Cup, and we're doing our damnedest to do it. That's our culture. That's our culture.”
Yeah, but somebody from outside the organization would bring a fresh perspective.
“No, we don't need a fresh perspective,” Snider said. “We have a pretty good culture, and we know who we're dealing with.”
Snider is an excellent owner. He really wants to win. He spends money freely on talent. He remains loyal to old Flyers warriors.
But let’s be honest here. The Flyers do need a fresh perspective. Paul Holmgren has made a LOT of mistakes as general manager, with Snider’s blessing and/or instigation.
Now former Flyers goaltender Ron Hextall is preparing to replace Holmgren, perhaps sooner than later. Snider’s line of succession seldom extends beyond the organization’s wall.
Here are the mistakes that suggest this organization needs a fresh set of eyes:
ENRICHING CHRIS PRONGER
He would have been the perfect Flyer in his athletic prime. His snarling on-ice demeanor, medieval stick wielding and sarcastic media relations would have made him beloved in Philadelphia. Sadly, the Flyers got Pronger near the end. And despite his massive injury history, the team gave him a seven-year, $34.55 million contract in 2010. He has played 63 games since then and he will likely spend the rest of his career on the long-term disabled list with severe post-concussion syndrome. At this point, Pronger is just hoping to regain his quality of life.
ENRICHING JEFF CARTER
Carter is a very good goal scorer. But he is not a superstar and he is certainly not a “Flyers-type” player. So how did he get an 11-year, $58 million contract? That was nuts. Holmgren undid his mistake by moving Carter to Columbus for Jakub Voracek, a first round pick (Sean Couturier) and a third-round pick. The Blue Jackets later moved Carter to Los Angeles in still another rebuild move.
TRADING MIKE RICHARDS
Yes, his 12-year, $69 million contract was excessive even by Flyer standards. But at least Richards was a sturdy Flyers-type player when properly motivated. The Flyers moved him and his contract to Los Angeles. Young forwards Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds were solid gets on that deal, but Richards went on to team with Carter to win a Stanley Cup with the Kings.
ENRICHING ILYA BRYZGALOV
Clearing out Carter and Richards allowed the Flyers to commit $51 million over nine years to Bryzgalov. It is hard to imagine a worse decision. The flighty Bryzgalov had no chance of succeeding in the intense Philly environment. He was the anti-Hextall, a likable goofball who had no business tending goal for this franchise. To make him go away, the Flyers used a cap compliance buyout to pay him $23 million over the next 14 years. Not even government workers get that sort of pension.
RENTING KRIS VERSTEEG
The Flyers sent first and third-round picks to Toronto to get Versteeg for 27 regular season and 11 playoff games (and eight goals and nine assists). Then the team sent Versteeg to Florida for second- and third-round selections the following July to free up some salary cap space.
TRADING SERGEI BOBROVSKY
Back in 2010-11 he captured the imagination of Philly fans with his unorthodox but effective (28-13-8, 2.59 GAA) performance. He was so-so the next year (14-10-2 in 29 games, 3.02 GAA) as a back-up, so the Flyers moved him to the Blue Jackets for draft picks. While Bryzgalov imploded in Philly, Bobrovsky became one of the NHL’s most valuable players (21-11-6, 2.00 GAA, .932 save percentage) in Columbus. Meanwhile the Flyers have the uninspiring Steve Mason/Ray Emery combo in goal.
TRADING JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK
Figuring the team had a surplus of good young forwards, the Flyers brain trust sent van Riemsdyk to Toronto for young stay-at-home defenseman Luke Schenn – who was supposed to help fill the void left by Pronger’s demise. While the Philly defense remains a liability, the rangy van Riemsdyk hit full speed for the Maple Leafs last season while scoring 18 goals in the 48-game campaign.
EXTENDING KIMMO TIMONEN
At the age of 38, Timomen got a one-year extension that doubled his salary from $3 million to $6 million even as a salary cap reduction loomed. Kimmo has been an excellent player for the Flyers, but come on. That is extreme money to pay a D-man in his twilight. It is no wonder this franchise is always in cap trouble.
SIGNING MARK STREIT
At the age of 35, Streit got a four-year, $21 million deal after the Flyers acquired his negotiating rights from the Islanders. Like Timonen, Streit piled up some points his prime. Like Timonen, he is in the twilight of his career. How will this deal look in two or three years?
SIGNING VINCENT LECAVALIER
Vinny is one of the good guys in the NHL. He is a good teammate and a charitable citizen. But he is not a blur of activity at this stage of his career. After the Lightning bought him out he had some interesting options . . . and he chose Philadelphia, where he will remind nobody of Eric Lindros. Philly needed speed up front and major help on the blue line. This addition at high cost -- $22.5 million over five years -- made no sense.