It's Time To Take A Deep Breath and Soak In Some Perspective

Created 3 years 338 days ago
by Michael DeNicola

Tags: Ron Hextall
Views: 2988

by Michael DeNicola

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 --

This team is broken. To put it analogically, this roster is a board with round holes, and most of these players are square pegs. Individually, these pieces may fit and round out a system. But so far, as a unit, they're failing to fit our system... if there's even evidence of one. It's tough to tell, really. Prior to the season getting underway, the NHL schedule was officially posted -- Philadelphia's October is stacked front to back with opponents who've reached the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs; six of which made it to the Semis; three of which made it to their Conference Finals. When facing such adversity so early on, in large volume, it's difficult to grasp just what kind of Club you really have. Objectively speaking, our 1 - 3 - 2 record is less reflection of how good or bad the Flyers are; instead it's more of a product of our early season schedule. It's the same as saying we wouldn't be as good as our record says we are had we been facing teams like Buffalo, Carolina, Florida, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

That's not really an excuse, because either way... it has proven that Philadelphia is a long ways away from being a legitimate Cup contender. 

Despite the poor start, the lousy record, and the calamity, I guess we can say we've come away with small victories here and there: periods won, less penalties taken compared to prior campaigns, the fact we've managed to keep possession driven in the right direction most of the time. To the fan, these facets mean jack shit if they're not producing wins. But as a team licking its wounds, this is ground to build on. What other choice do they have?

By now I must sound like a broken record -- When he was named General Manager, Ron Hextall inherited more obstacles than answers. He had been given a pretty decent core of skaters, but there are still a group of contractual constraints that serve as longstanding liabilities. They stretch into the team's horizon. It's up to this man to deploy a contending roster, as well as achieve a flexible salary cap in the coming years. 

It's quite the challenge; one which may demand we take a step backward to conquer two essential steps forward in the future... whenever that is. 

In the meantime, our front office wants to flip the mindset of its operations: Less reactive, more proactive. It is evident even as early as six games into the 2014-15 season...

  • We haven't rushed our promising prospects into an NHL roster. Given however you feel about the Flyers' players this second, many minds within the front office feel it'd be a mistake to challenge the League's best teams with inexperienced kids. There's argument to support that, as well as challenge that theory. But put it this way: for the first time in a long time, that particular debate stems from our organization.
  • We've taken an approach to icing a more disciplined team. Prior to Tuesday night's game versus Chicago, the Flyers were the least penalized team in the NHL -- That may still be true this minute, I just haven't fact checked the stats. Hextall and his coaching staff have deployed a lineup with more skill than clout. You're probably laughing since the strategy has done nothing but produce a loathsome record. But I point back to my saying that this is the outcome of a heavy-lifting schedule. Some of you may still be laughing, and you subscribe to the belief that this team would be better off with enforcers and a bottom six with more recorded fighting majors. Nothing personal, but I'll continue ignoring you. It's easy to look at this team's record and blame it on the absence of a Jay Rosehill, or the absence of an unleashed Zac Rinaldo. It's easy because our record is tangible, and your solution literally cannot be proven incorrect since it's eluded speculation. 
  • And getting back to our farmhands; Ron Hextall had a feeling this team was going to struggle mightily. Shit, we all did. But up to this point, unlike characteristics shown by the foregoing regime, Ron hasn't sold off key prospects and/or high draft picks to supplement this second-rate NHL product. The future is not being mortgaged to fund a chase for yesterday's Stanley Cup. Of course it's much too early to say he won't give this lineup a shake -- in fact, I kind of bet on it. Could he pick from our existing core as leverage to accomplish financial flexibility? Possibly. And simultaneously, could the same move get us a round piece for this board's round holes? I wouldn't put it past him. Hextall played a part as architect to Los Angeles' "Dynasty in the Making". That alone is his due diligence, and, at least for me, has earned him all the benefit of the doubt............. for now. 

Where am I going with this rhetoric? I haven't supplied any answers, so what the hell am I blabbering on about?

We are going to have to tough this out. The Flyers are experiencing average goaltending, defensemen who don't protect their goaltender, and forwards who don't protect their defensemen. It's the everlasting recipe of a disastrous breakdown, and it has been cyclical thus far this season. I don't see an answer to this riddle within the existing makeup of our roster... other than possibly the aid of a softer schedule. But even that, in my mind, offers minimum leniency. 

Perhaps it's time for the Flyers to explore a trade? If for nothing else, to shed space on the salary cap. there is such a thing as 'addition by subtraction.' Or a small shakeup similar to what we saw around this time last season when Talbot and Downie swapped sweaters. Berate Downie all you want, but we gained a bit of fortitude from the move alone. Never mind the player we received; focus on how the transaction sent a warning shot across our bow. 

This organization is going to take its lumps. It's only natural after it has been knee-jerking for ten years, and loading up this decade's latter half with cap-crippling commitments. Hextall's plan, his vision, has been a long time coming. Overdue, if you ask me. But the beginning of his tenure is not going to start out like unwrapping a Tootsie Pop. There is no delicious candy shell to enjoy before devouring the chewy goodness from within. There's three layers of hot sauce-covered shit we gotta suffer first. No one's asking you to wear a smile while you man through this heap, but the promise of that Tootsie center is worth the tour of duty. <---- Eh? Am I right?

In the meantime, let's get over this October mogul and see what develops through November. We might be in for another 2013-14 surprise..... probably not, but what the hell else am I gonna do? Read a book? 

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