It always amuses me when writers come up with a cockamamie excuse to explain a team’s struggles. The Philadelphia Flyers, in particular, have dealt with strange (but sometimes one must wonder, truthful) rumors about infidelity and in-fighting in their locker room. Perhaps more down-to-earth excuses like “shabby goaltending” and “talent just a few strides behind New Jersey, Washington and Pittsburgh” can only be used so many times.
Either way, the laptop psychology comes from many areas, but one of the more reasonable takes is from Delaware County Daily Times columnist Anthony Sanfilippo. Instead of depicting a fractured,conflict-filled locker room, he looks at their group as more fragmented than anything else. Simply put, the team might be lacking a unified puck-based vision since Mike Richards is the captain but Chris Pronger seems to wear the pants in the Flyers family.
When Pronger arrived, he brought a different mentality to the locker room than existed with Mike Richards running the show. He had no qualms about calling a teammate on the carpet in front of the whole room. His approach was more brash and in-your-face. It was like bringing Metallica to the Academy of Music.
Yet it still hasn’t sunk in, despite the pangs of late-season success being shown … Maybe it’s because Richards hasn’t figured out how to be the good cop to Pronger’s bad cop … The safer bet is that once the team is retooled in the offseason and a second go-round with Laviolette and Pronger proves that nothing is different in the room, then the players will buy into the style and have the success many expected.
Just not now. Not this year.
I still think there might be an excessive amount of attention paid to the “personalties” of athletes and how they affect a team. Sure, hockey is far more of a team sport than baseball, but in any case it seems hard to believe that motivation is always the largest factor in a team’s success (or lack thereof). Really, if you want to look for what pushes players to achieve beyond their normal levels, don’t look to a locker room that seems like a utopia; instead, check and see if a player is in a contract year.
Nope, most of the time, it’s a matter of luck, coaching and talent. The Flyers don’t really need much in terms of leadership, they just need better players. Especially in net.