It seems like barely a month ago that a jovial Ed Snider was singing the praises of his never-say-die Flyers.
Oh wait, it was a month ago. Feb. 23, to be exact.
Well, the Flyers are 3-6-5 since, and all but officially out of the playoff race. The coach may get fired, too.
Such are the highs and lows of hockey in Philadelphia, where Snider has owned the Flyers ever since they entered the league in 1967.
And despite the club’s new GM, Ron Hextall, having come into the job preaching the importance of youth and draft picks while saying things like, “Sometimes you just have to wait for things to come to fruition,” the owner has no interest in lowering short-term expectations. Not with the likes of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and Steve Mason under contract.
“It’s not like we don’t have pieces,” Snider said yesterday, per Philly.com. “Now the question is, do we want those pieces to just die on the vine? And go for a long-range plan? And eventually they’re gone? Who’s going to replace them?
“So there’s a question of potential trades, free-agent signings, draft picks surprising you. I don’t like to give the impression that, ‘Hey, we aren’t going to win.’ It’s Ron’s job to analyze why. Why did this same team that made the playoffs fall?”
Snider added: “We’ve got to make sure our message gets through properly. Patience is great with the kids. But patience isn’t great with the team we have on the ice.”
Unfortunately for Snider, whose concern about letting assets “just die on the vine” is totally understandable, the Flyers’ biggest issue is its blue line. While there are some good youngsters in the system, it takes time to develop defensemen. Time and patience.
The NHL defensemen the Flyers have now are nowhere close to Stanley Cup caliber. The 2009-10 team that lost in the final had Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn as its top four. None of those guys are still playing for the club. And its best blue-liner, Mark Streit, is 37.
Suffice to say, it should be interesting to see how Snider and Hextall work together. We’re not saying the two men are on totally different pages, but it’s not easy to be the GM for a passionate, impatient owner who wants so desperately to win another championship.