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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Morning After...No Bridge Jumping Necessary!

I'm hoping the line to jump from the Ben Franklin Bridge was shorter last night than it has been in past years.

Flyers  fans have a reason for hope.  The future is actually bright, as opposed to feeling like "this was our last chance."

Look, I admit it:  I'm not the greatest Flyers fan of all time.  I can't tell you the juniors team that Eric Wellwood played for or other hard core facts about the squad. 

The only time I watch regular season games is when the bar shows them as I play Golden Tee Golf.

My ankles snap, crackle, and pop loudly each year as I jump back on the bandwagon right around playoff time like many other Philadelphia sports fans do.  But, I am a loyal, returning fan every single year.

In the past, I always felt like the Flyers’ brain trust had patch-worked rosters that were riddled with grizzly veterans who were trying to squeeze the last bit of hockey life out of their mangled and dilapidated bodies.  And the Flyers admittedly have been very successful at this strategy in the past, but it never seemed to put the team over the top.

That's why last off-season felt very different.  The Flyers brass made earth shattering trades sending away some of the team’s top players while acquiring youthful hope in the bodies of unproven potential stars.  They traded away names I actually KNEW for lots of guys I’d never heard of.

For the most part, that formula was a huge success.

If you can remember passed the orange-colored glasses that were worn the last few weeks, many Flyers hopefuls wondered out loud where the scoring was going to come from and labeled this a "rebuilding year.”

And then a funny thing happened....the team came together and played very well.  Well enough to oust Cup favorites Pittsburgh and gave hope to all of Philadelphia that maybe this WAS our year!?

The good news is that the names and ages of the team include guys like Giroux (28), Couterier (19), Read (25), Wellwood (22), Van Riemsdyk (23), Schenn (20) Simmonds (23), Voracek (22), and the list goes on.  Add to that a few vets that have gas in the tank (ie...Briere, Hartnell, etc.) and you have a pretty good nucleus for success over the next few years.

Obvious subtractions need to be made.  Jaromir Jagr has had a great career and may have one or two years left, but not here.  He just seems like he's out of joint with everybody else on the ice.  Jagr just doesn't fit.

Life without Pronger is probably inevitable.  The defense unit will need to learn from the Devils series and find better ways to deliver the puck up the ice.  Maybe another big name acquisition for the blue line would be a good idea?

And then there is Bryz.  Like him or hate him, he's your Flyers goalie for the next three or four years, minimum.  Too much money has been sunk into the dude.

My guess is that we'll all have to live with our beloved goaltender's peaks and valleys, and I'm ok with that.  Everybody has good days and bad.  Hopefully as he continues to mesh with all of his teammates over the next couple years he'll weed out more of those "valleys" to the point where they just don't happen.

The direction is certainly a positive one.  There are certainly issues that need to be figured out, but overall, things are looking pretty good at Flyerpalooza.

How long until training camp starts?  Ehhhh...just call me next April!
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