I've said it many times before, but I always figure it's worth mentioning again; The Orange & Black Pack is a unique source of Philadelphia Flyers information. We're not beat writers, nor have we ever claimed to be anything close to that caliber of reporting. We're not insiders, nor do we have an inside man who gathers NHL information from the League's innermost grapevine and hands it off to us to communicate with our readers.
The Orange & Black Pack is made up of three diehard Flyers fans who happen to use this blog as an outlet for our passionate opinions which we pride ourselves on for its originality, and its researched delivery.
We've been described as "The Howard Stern of Flyers writing" for reasons I believe our longest readers know already. Professionalism is a tricky word; If being professional means approaching each hockey topic with pure objectivity and the complete absence of offensive, discriminatory discourse, then I'm afraid The Orange & Black Pack is NOT professional.
And I'm damn proud of it.
Not for a single second would I ever change my style of writing, nor could I ask for better partners in crime. Each of us comes from a long tenure of following the Broad Street Bullies, some of us longer than the rest but that does not erase the collective level of passion this band of writers feels for their hometown hockey Club.
Why on earth am I pitching our mission statement for (what seems to feel like) the thousandth time? For the sheer possibility this letter lands in the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers general manager, Paul Holmgren. I want our head honcho to be aware of our edgy, aggressive launchpad. Below I will address our GM with a perspective and opinion he may already share, as well as among the rest of Flyers ownership/management. For some reason it'll comfort me knowing that Paul knows he has Philadelphians out there who are on board with what I believe could be our greatest offseason in recent years.
Here we go.
An Open Letter to Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren
Greetings, Mr. Holmgren --
Can I call you Homer? I feel as if you've amassed a strong enough relationship with your fanbase that any one of us may address you by the nickname.
Nevertheless, Homer, I'm reaching out to you today with a simple request; Stay the course.
One year ago you validated to the hockey world that you've got two brass planets dangling behind your slacks after you traded away Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. In return, you jointly deepened our wing positions, made our team younger, and added (what turned out to be) some of the NHL's scariest potential talents that proved themselves through the 2012-13 League year.
Fast forward to today and we're looking at a Club roster raped of its Captain and defensive Future Hall of Famer, Chris Pronger. We lost out on Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, two key blue liners that would have remedied our defensive struggles. Matt Carle bought into the almighty dollar by accepting a "market value" offer from Tampa. We may have lost Andrej Meszaros to an achilles tear for the entire upcoming season. And after Andreas Lilja recently took a seat on the long-term injury status, it seems the bug is beginning to take its toll on the cache of skaters in the one position we cannot afford to keep losing.
Naturally, this ongoing affliction and bad luck causes fans to panic. Your Flyers do not have a #1 d-man, and the par talent rounding out our roster has begun sipping the offseason poison. Fans are demanding a trade for defensive nourishment without acknowledging the fact that you'd be mortgaging more talent than the Flyers would receive. Our fans are emotionally reacting instead of approaching this calamity with sensible conduct. I wouldn't ever accuse you of doing anything similar, and you've even said that you like the way this team looks now.
But let's be realistic, Homer. You have a reputation of saying one thing, but then following up the statement with a conflicting act. That alone is the reason for my walking on eggshells. I'm just a fan, but one who tries to gauge the positives in every storm cloud that pisses all over our promising proficiency. What's happened this summer with injuries and missing out on big name free agents may seem like a curse to most, however I firmly believe this is an outstanding test for our future.
I don't particularly see this offseason as a failure or consider it a "bad" one. It has the potential to be one of the best in our recent history.
Homer, you've already made an incredible attempt at gaining this League's greatest defenseman, and doing so without subtracting anyone up front. Not to mention, the offer-sheet assured us that Shea stays out of the Atlantic Division for at least a season. It was a GENIUS move, built with insanely astute fiscal terms. You deserve more credit than you have received already.
You've slid offers in front of Suter and Parise, but they chose a different path. All of these attempts came and went without prevail, but by no means is it a failure. Now you have the chance to make the most important move of all; NOT making another trade this offseason.
Yes, I believe this team has the potential already within its system (NHL & AHL) that will define the longterm ahead. Not only our forwards, but defensive prospects and sophomore blue liners who have a chance at making the NHL roster permanently. We may discover a ton of growing pains this upcoming 2012-13 season, but in two or three years when this roster is filled with skaters entering their primes (or about to enter), we'll look back on this summer and thank the hockey gods that you didn't panic and trade away more talent than we would have received (Example: Trading Sean Couturier and/or Brayden Schenn for defensive help).
Next offseason's free agency pool will have a lot more defensive depth talent-wise. As long as you and the rest of the suits stay the course and don't subtract from its future --which we already employ-- then I'll consider these three months a success.
So, Homer, I'm begging you to keep the power and potential we already harness on the forward combinations. I want you to allow the bulwark players on the back pairings to develop under our strong, veteran leadership. Together this team has its chance to grow beneath the umbrella of the greatest and most dedicated sports franchise I have ever had the pleasure of rooting for.
Rome wasn't built in a day. Don't go Nero on us.
A loyal fan,
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