Hang around Philadelphia in the days after a coach is fired, or a player is traded away, you’ll inevitably hear something along the lines of “Great, another guy who’ll win a championship somewhere else.” Welp, if the St. Louis Blues finish their climb toward the top of the NHL totem pole, those eternal pessimists will be sure to let the world know they were right, again.
Former Flyers Brayden Schenn and Patrick Maroon, led by former head coach Craig Berube, are playing their part in pushing the Blues toward a Stanley Cup championship. After defeating the San Jose Sharks 5-1 in Game 6, the Blues will now face the Boston Bruins for the right to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
As big as the rivalry is between Boston and Philadelphia sports, there’s a good chance Philly fans would prefer to see the Bruins win it so that they don’t have to hear about more former Flyers contributing to championships elsewhere.
When Berube was called upon by the Blues to step in as interim head coach, they sat nearly dead last in the NHL standings. After Berube took over they clawed their way back into contention, eventually finishing third in the Central division, and clinching a playoff berth. Sound familiar?
In 2013, after an 0-3-0 start to the season, Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette was relieved of his duties and was replaced on an interim basis by Berube, who led the Flyers to a playoff berth. He coached the team an additional year before being replaced in the summer of 2015 by Dave Hakstol.
Despite the first-year playoff berth, Berube’s time behind the bench with the Flyers wasn’t all that smooth. He made some questionable decisions in terms of playing time and roles, most notably in regards to Sean Couturier who was stuck centering the third line with the likes of Max Talbot and Matt Read. Couturier has since been granted top-line caliber linemates, along with top-line minutes and has thrived in the role, cementing himself as a legit top center, and Selke Trophy candidate.
Since then, Berube seems to have legitimately turned himself into a very good NHL coach, extracting the most out of his Blues roster and clearly learning from his mistakes with the Flyers. When Berube was ousted in favor of the up-and-coming Hakstol, there were no gripes – he deserved to be replaced.
Schenn spent six seasons in Philadelphia after being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings along with Wayne Simmonds. At the time Schenn was considered one of the top prospects in hockey, a fitting return considering the Flyers gave up captain Mike Richards in the deal.
Despite his pedigree and opportunities, Schenn was never able to cement himself in any one particular spot in the lineup. He shuffled in and out of the top-six and often switched back and forth between playing center and wing.
Schenn was best served manning the slot on the power play, racking up 28 power play goals in his last two season with the Flyers, but otherwise struggled with consistency at 5-on-5. He failed to drive play over the course of his Flyers tenure according to Corsica.hockey, compiling a 49.15% Corsi For percentage (CF%), and a -1.26 Corsi For relative to his teammates (RelCF%) at 5-on-5 in his six seasons with the orange and black.
When Schenn was traded to the Blues at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft for two first-round picks and salary cap dump Jori Lehterä, it was considered a good move. The Flyers had just drafted Nolan Patrick, making Schenn expendable in their eyes.
They also needed to clear cap space for the coming years (Schenn held a $5.12 million AAV) and add draft picks that could yield impact players down the road. Those two picks netted the Flyers top prospects in Morgan Frost and Joel Farabee, two players that appear to have legit top-six upside.
Since then, Schenn has centered the Blues top-line, flanked by Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko, excelling in the role and driving play to the tune of a 53.97 CF%, with a 3.52 RelCF% according to Corsica.hockey. Much like Berube, Schenn grew and improved himself upon his departure. Nonetheless, the trade was considered the right move at the time for the Flyers.
Related: Revisiting the Brayden Schenn Trade
Maroon, a sixth-round pick of the Flyers in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, never actually played a game with the big club. He’s had a long arduous career since then, spending time in Anaheim, Edmonton, and New Jersey before eventually signing a contract with his hometown Blues this past offseason.
Playing for the city he grew up in has surely sparked something in Maroon, as he has come up clutch so far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He’s potted two game-winning goals, one of which in a double-overtime Game 7 win over the Dallas Stars.
Maroon has been a serviceable NHL player, so why was it that he never cracked the Flyers lineup and was traded away before he ever got a chance? It had nothing to do with his production on the ice, more so his attitude off of it.
Maroon was dismissed from the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms after getting into a physical altercation with head coach Greg Gilbert. Maroon also struggled with personal issues off the ice, and exhibited poor training habits.
“I was keeping my nose dirty. You’re making 40 grand, you’re living on your own, you’re living with roommates who party, you party, things can get a little sideways at times. I knew how to play hockey, that’s it. I didn’t know how to take care of myself off the ice.” said Maroon. Before making the NHL he needed to mature as a person, so he was traded away. Once again, the right decision in the moment.
Success Outside of Philadelphia Doesn’t Mean Flyers Failed
Listening to the pessimists’ “should have kept them” views would lead an outside listener to believe that the Flyers are foolish for having given up on these men and that they are the only team guilty of such mistakes. A bit of research will show that that is hardly the case. Taking that kind of stance is taking a revisionists’ take on history, turning what was considered a good decision at the time into always having been a bad move.
When a player is moved, or a coach is fired, it must be viewed through the lens of the time that it occurred. Sure, it may hurt a bit seeing former Flyers have such success elsewhere, but the fact of the matter is that when they left here it was their time to go.