The Philadelphia Flyers finally snapped their 10-game losing streak with a win against the New York Islanders to begin a five-game homestand on Tuesday night. However, they fell flat against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday in arguably their most one-sided loss of the season. They’ve dropped to seventh place in the Metropolitan Division, and they face a tough upcoming slate with three of their next four against the first-place team in the Eastern Conference, the first-place team in the Western Conference, and the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Potential Comcast Sale
Frank Seravalli of The Daily Faceoff spoke on the Nasty Knuckles podcast about the current state of the Flyers and the possibility of Comcast selling the franchise. He criticized them for their fall from the NHL spotlight in recent years.
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“It is a soulless operation, and that’s not a knock at all on Chuck Fletcher. It’s way bigger than that. When Mr. Snider died, and he always made me call him Ed, something changed. It just did, and it’s never been the same. They need to find that before they can get where they’re going,” Seravalli said.
He continued, “It’s a fact of business. Comcast is going to get out. They just will. I don’t know if it’s tomorrow. I’ve had plenty of people call me. Think of Ryan Reynolds and his situation right now trying to buy the (Ottawa Senators). I get people that call me all the time saying, ‘What do you know about the Flyers? Are they for sale? Because I’d like to put together a group to buy them.’ People that could put a group together of one core billionaire and then a bunch of ancillary investors. They just need it. It’s nothing personal. It’s not anything against (franchise governor) Dave Scott or (alternate governor) Valerie Camillo or anyone else. They need that because they’ve lost the essence of what it meant to be a Flyer.”
Seravalli didn’t commit to any definitive statements or a timeline for a potential sale. Most of his conclusions could apply to the majority of professional sports franchises. However, fans should pay attention to speculation from a well-connected NHL insider who began as a beat writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Tortorella and Fletcher Rift
Seravalli got back in the mix with more Flyers conversation quickly. He spoke with some strong conjecture about John Tortorella and his usage of players. He interprets Tortorella’s approach and his lineup decisions as an implicit challenge to general manager (GM) Chuck Fletcher.
“John Tortorella, at almost every single turn, has made it almost abundantly clear, reading between the lines of every postgame press conference that he is basically trying to jam it up the a** of the Flyers GM.”
The first-year Flyers head coach regularly talks about how he doesn’t expect his team to compete in the top tier of the NHL with their current talent level. He hesitates to make evaluations because of the disparity in talent on the current roster against proven NHL teams.
Tortorella has been critical of the defensive game of center Kevin Hayes, whom Fletcher signed to a lucrative seven-year contract in 2019. He scratched a healthy Rasmus Ristolainen earlier this season after he had played just four games on a five-year, $25.5 million deal he signed in March. Whether intentional or not, Tortorella hasn’t been shy about giving indicators about his feelings toward players that Fletcher has made a big part of the team’s future. Tortorella spoke on Thursday about his chemistry with Fletcher.
“I just need to give him (Fletcher) the honest information that I have as the head coach of the team as far as where I see him (a given player). Is he (the player) part of this (the Flyers)? Do we want him (to be) part of it?” he said.
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Fletcher has been the subject of venom from Flyers fans for the better part of the past three seasons. The crowd at the Wells Fargo Center has even started audible chants of “Fire Fletcher” at recent home games. While the Philadelphia GM certainly hasn’t constructed the best product, it’s unlikely that management would pull the plug on him now. They gave him the vote of confidence last season even after the team plummeted and fell to last place in the Metropolitan Division. They gave him the freedom to make moves this offseason without drastically changing the front-office structure. The team entered the 2022-23 season with low expectations, so poor results are unlikely to change the view of the overall picture.
Anisimov, Bellows, Injuries
Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton returned to the lineup this week. James van Riemsdyk skated in Friday’s practice in a yellow jersey that keeps him away from contact. Cam Atkinson is close to returning to the lineup after being cleared for contact and practicing with the team twice this week. The Flyers also waived Kieffer Bellows on Thursday. If he clears, he will likely report to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Elliotte Friedman spoke on 32 Thoughts about potential upcoming roster changes for the Flyers.
“They have Artem Anisimov. He was supposed to join them in training camp this year. He got hurt. He is now in the American Hockey League (AHL), and I’ve heard rumors that they want to sign him. They can’t. They’re maxed out. They have 50 contracts. I’m wondering if they try to something just to get Anisimov in their lineup.”-Elliotte Friedman
Anisimov has two goals and one assist in five games with Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The 34-year-old has 376 career points in 771 NHL games with four different teams. He played three full-time seasons under Tortorella with the New York Rangers from 2009-10 through 2011-12.
Colin Newby is a freelance writer from Delaware County, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers. He is an encyclopedia of useless sports knowledge with an uncanny ability to rattle off Flyers goaltending stats from 2004 and every Stanley Cup winner during his lifetime. The depths of his knowledge stem from spending his entire life following the Flyers and the NHL, from fan favorites like the “Legion of Doom” and Claude Giroux to forgotten journeymen like Andy Delmore and Branko Radivojevič. He joined the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) in 2022.
Colin also covers the Philadelphia Eagles and works for 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.