Broad Street Needs More Bullies?

Joke all you want, but the Philadelphia Flyers are building something. It doesn’t take much imagination to recognize what is going on between General Manager Paul Holmgren’s ears these days with the offseason acquisition list looking more like who you’d want on your side in a back alley brawl let alone on the ice in front of thousands of insane Philadelphia fans.  With Chris Pronger, Ray Emery, Ian Laperriere, and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen added to a lineup that includes Mike Richards, Scott Hartnell, Arron Asham, Darroll Powe, and Riley Cote there isn’t much there that’s left to the imagination despite Pronger’s comments during his official Philadelphia welcome party.

When asked about how he would feel playing Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin more often now that he was joining the Eastern Conference he remained enigmatic in speach while making it bluntly obvious how he felt. “I think you know the answer to that,” Pronger noted charismatically, “I’ll just let you come up with your own. We don’t want to premeditate anything, now do we?”

One thing noticably different about the Flyers during the 2007-08 Stanley Cup Playoffs and their version a year later was the absence of a mean presence on the blueline. Jason Smith and Derian Hatcher were done with the Flyers at that point leaving a major gap in the hitting in front of Martin Biron. Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Ryan Parent, and Matt Carle certainly weren’t the worst top four in NHL playoff history, but when the Pittsburgh Penguins let Chris Kunitz off the leash to bring the pain to the Flyers’ number one defender, Kimmo Timonen, it was blatantly obvious what the Flyers were missing. Kunitz had no other role in the opening series against the Flyers than to make life miserable for Timonen, one of the best defensemen in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, the Finnish born Timonen stands at about 5’10 and cannot exactly defend himself in his own zone when he is getting knocked around constantly with no other defenseman to step up for him.

Since when do the Broad Street Bullies get bullied?

That has of course changed. No one will be bullying the Flyers this season as they look toward camp opening on September 12th. Despite Pronger and Tollefsen added to the blueline and Hatcher working in the developmental department for the defense though, there could still be more.

Think back to the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. The Flyers, then with the worst record in the NHL coming off their worst season in franchise history, lost the first overall selection thanks to the NHL lottery. Instead the Chicago Blackhawks got to decide from any player they wanted. They chose a kid out of Buffalo by the name of Patrick Kane. The Flyers were forced then to go with James van Riemsdyk, a New Jersey born powerforward who certainly looked more like a future bully than the scrawny kid from up north.

While van Riemsdyk looks to take the next step through the AHL this season everyone’s favorite Blackhawk wunderkind (other than Jonathan Toews of course since he’s from Canada) if off beating up cabbies on the mean streets of his hometown, Buffalo, NY.

I ask you, who is the bigger bully now?

Granted the fans of Philadelphia could have taken this two ways if Kane was in fact a Flyer. They could either take pockets full of dimes to the next game in order to chuck twenty cents at Kane each time he took the ice (thanks to Detroit Red Wings blogger Justine Sliwka for the mental image) or they could applaud his efforts to uphold the family tradition. That’s not to say the Broad Street Bullies of the 70’s were necessarily a bad thing. That was another era. Of course people often forget that the Flyers certainly had their mean streak in the 80’s and that the Legion of Doom was so-called for a reason.

At one point in fact one of the scariest players in the NHL was Eric Lindros. If you take a good look at Patrik Kane’s number with the Blackhawks you’ll understand what I’m hinting at.

Patrick Kane was born to wear the orange and black it’s just that nobody realized it. Even the NHL made the gigantic mistake of not giving the Flyers the first overall selection that year. Imagine how scary it would be for defenses going up against Philadelphia’s top nine last year if Kane was on it, Briere was healthy, and Giroux was NHL ready right out of the gate.

Gagne – Richards – Kane
Hartnell – Carter – Lupul
Briere – Giroux – Knuble

That’s some serious offensive firepower right there. Nine 20 goal scorers? Running three legitimate powerplay units? That’s pretty scary; salary cap be damned. Now imagine how much meaner the Flyers would look this year knowing that Kane had the heart of a Broad Street Bully all along even if he plays and looks like a twig.

It should come as no shock that there are rumors about the Flyers’ interest in Todd Bertuzzi. Whether or not they are true it would be a dream scenario for any Bully-basher to see the team acquire Ray Emery, Chris Pronger, and Todd Bertuzzi in one offseason. The orange and black would be one Sean Avery away from being the most hated team in NHL history if they aren’t already. That all of course is without the 20-year-old raging monster waiting to get out of Kane’s 5’10, 175 lbs. frame.

If all of this Kane nonsense about one large mistake a 20-year-old made one evening in Buffalo seriously causes people to think twice about whether or not they’d want him on their team then there is a serious issue here with the opinions of some NHL fans. Kane obviously did something very foolish if the current story circling around the media is completely factual, but hopefully he learns from this and becomes a better player for it. You live, you learn, and hopefully you never again beat up cab drivers over pocket change.

So let’s have everyone relax on Patrick Kane. Allegedly he attacked a cab driver over pocket change, but statements have come out claiming that Kane refused to give the driver a tip. Nowhere does it say that riders are required to pay tips to the cab driver, and honestly, most people’s experiences with cabs are less than pleasant. It’s not so much to believe that maybe the driver didn’t deserve a tip. Tack on to that the fact that the cabbie had an invalid driver’s licence and may have actually locked Kane and his cousin in the car until they tipped him, and you may get an idea of how blown out of proportion this all is. Don’t forget the fact that the driver may have had those injuries before the actual incident. Patrick Kane, if he actually did beat up a cab driver over twenty cents, made a huge mistake, but with recent facts coming to light I think it’s best if everyone stopped acting as if this kid punched a ref in the face over a blown call.