Contrary to the Words of Ed Snider, Flyers Need Fresh Perspective

In 1966, Ed Snider’s dream of making hockey a reality in Philadelphia came true. In the 47 years that have followed, he has transformed Philadelphia into one of the most passionate hockey cities in the United States. Two Stanley Cups, eight Stanley Cup Final appearances, and five jersey retirements are evidence that his life of achievement in hockey is deep and gratifying.

Flyers' Chairman Ed Snider
Flyers’ Chairman Ed Snider has been with the team since its inception in 1967. (Philadelphia76ers@Flickr)

However, a very tired sports cliché indicates that all good things must come to an end. For the Flyers, the culture Snider instilled in his beloved team from day one just does not seem to fit the NHL mold anymore.


Snider Has Lived the Ups and Downs


Before the salary cap era in the NHL began following the 2005 lockout, Snider’s spend-happy mentality often paid big dividends. While it was often his general managers who received credit or blame for the moves, Snider undoubtedly had a major role in determining the moves, both good (acquiring John LeClair & Eric Desjardins, then re-acquiring Mark Recchi) and bad (signing Ilya Bryzgalov) that shaped the Flyers’ franchise.

However, with the birth of the salary cap in 2005, it has become abundantly clear that homegrown talent and excellence in scouting get rewarded heavily. From the exploits of rookie Eric Staal of the 2006 Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes (coached by none other than Peter Laviolette) to the two Stanley Cups won by drafted and groomed Blackhawks Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, building from youthful energy has become the norm in the NHL.

Even more noted veteran squads, like the 2007 Ducks and the 2008 Red Wings, achieved success in large part because of contributions from players who grew up in their systems. Among them were such stars as young guns Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in Anaheim and lifetime Red Wings Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg (both of whom were taken in late draft rounds).

This is not to say that acquired veterans cannot have a helping hand in lifting a Stanley Cup. After all, the Flyers’ acquisition of Chris Pronger, while risky at the time in 2009, nearly paid off with the biggest dividend of a Cup. Sadly, concussions have all but ended the imposing defenseman’s career. Pronger did hoist a Stanley Cup, though, as a veteran leader alongside Scott Niedermayer in Anaheim, while towering Zdeno Chara put his career demons to bed by captaining Boston to a title in 2011.


Snider & the Flyers Denying the Big Picture


The Flyers’ problem now is one of denial, and it stems from the top, with Snider. On Monday, he argued that the Flyers “do not need a fresh perspective.”However, that statement is hard to believe given the rash amount of disjoint within the locker room, a group that had, in Snider’s own words, “one of the worst training camps (he had) ever seen.”

On a front office level, general manager Paul Holmgren’s overspending on aging veterans like Vincent Lecavalier & Mark Streit, as well as the massive re-upping of Scott Hartnell’s contract, are perhaps just extensions of the Snider way. Even noted tough guy and offensive rarity Jay Rosehill garnered a contract to the tune of $550,000, keeping hope of another “Broad Street Bully” roster alive.

Flyers' GM Paul Holmgren has been known for his big spending habits.
Flyers’ GM Paul Holmgren has been known for his big spending habits.

Meanwhile, what has gone unnoticed is the fact that the Flyers have perhaps the shallowest prospect pool in the entire NHL. With the exceptions of Union College’s Shayne Gostisbehere and Rimouski’s Samuel Morin, there is little hope for a defensive stalwart anywhere in the Flyers’ farm ranks. Offensively, the pool remains shallow when you get past 2012 first-rounder Scott Laughton & perhaps generously add names like Petr Straka and Nick Cousins, who all need a lot more grooming.

Scouting has never been at the top of the food chain of priorities to Snider, and to be fair to him, it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks. His deep pockets gave the Flyers financial opportunities to go after players other teams never dreamed of landing in the pre-salary cap era. What used to be a veteran’s league has quickly yielded to youthful exuberance and speed, a style the Flyers have almost never had.


What’s Next for Snider & Holmgren?


With Craig Berube hired as the new head coach (for now) following Laviolette’s strangely timed departure, yet another former Flyer takes on an integral team role, alongside Holmgren and assistant GM Ron Hextall. Snider’s loyalty to those who previously contributed to the organization, while admirable to a point, just does not seem to be helping the Flyers anymore.

In a league where success stories have often come from the bottom up (see Pittsburgh & Chicago for proof), the Flyers refuse to use the term “rebuild” or even “build” for that matter. Winning is expected in Philadelphia, and any off year is unacceptable. What the fans need to understand, though, is patience has been shown to be the new key to long-term successes in hockey.

Could this mean the Flyers are years away from a title? Quite possibly. But one way or another, it is going to take a new approach from all parties, from the owner and President, to the GM and all the way to the coaching staff and players.

Do not be surprised if Laviolette’s firing is just the first of many dominoes to fall. While Snider claims he does not overrule his staffs, ultimately, what he says, goes.

2 thoughts on “Contrary to the Words of Ed Snider, Flyers Need Fresh Perspective”

  1. I generally agree with you except for a couple of things:

    1. Rob is right in that the Flyers’ prospect pool is not as shallow as you deem it to be. Their minor league system per se has some issues (i.e., Adirondack is terrible), true. The talent that the Flyers have coming through the ranks is spread out; unlike other teams, they don’t have a number of people on the Phantoms who are “almost ready for prime time.” However, that doesn’t mean that they have NO ONE.

    2. Of the three veteran contracts you mentioned, the only bad one is Hartnell’s because his production won’t justify his salary for the last two years of it. Streit’s is okay; it was market value for what players with his skill-set receive. I wish it were a year shorter, but I can deal with it. Lecavalier’s contract is fine, especially if you view him as replacing Briere and his salary.

  2. Flyers prospect pool is much better than it has been. After this season, they will likely move up in the rankings with all of their top prospects and prospects not moving up to the NHL. A number of teams promoted players to the NHL out of their prospect pools and once they play this season, they will not be considered prospects. In fact many of them I no longer consider prospects because they are playing on their NHL team and likely to stick.

    But your inexcusable, idiotic omission of Robert Hagg shows your complete ignorance of the subject you are writing about. This is a kid who needs consistency but he’s 18 playing in the top Swedish Pro League, the third top league in the world.

    Morin, Laughton, Hagg, Gostisbehere, Stolarz, Leier, Cousins is actually a very solid pool of prospects.

    Morin is a big defenseman who is smart, great at stick checking, solid in most areas of the game except maybe he doesn’t possess a howitzer slap shot. He was also a late birthday so he is very young. Big dmen are pretty rare.

    Laughton just earned OHL player of the week after being sent down without being with Oshawa before that.

    Hagg is playing with men. Inconsistent but many thought he was one of the steals of the draft. He absolutely has potential to be a defensive stalwart, you can’t be that stupid. He has better size than Shayne.

    Stolarz is a big, athletic goaltender with solid quickness. He has made strides.

    Leier was named the captain for Portland in the WHL and he is a solid prospect.

    Cousins I do have some questions about his overall game but he did contend for the scoring title in the OHL last season.

    I think people think teams have lots of prospects who will become good NHL players or even make the NHL. A handful of teams do.

    All you can ask for with the Flyers prospect pool is for them to turn it around from it was so you look at the last 2 drafts mostly and going forward. They traded away so many 1st and 2nd round picks from prior to 2011. Those drafts are gone, done and over so they are limited to players from the last 2-3 drafts.

    Leier and Willcox are a couple of players under the radar who have a chance some day to make the NHL.

    Mark Alt is another potential 3rd pair defenseman who played well over the summer.

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