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Are You Even a Fan, Bro?

Jun 18, 2013, 11:52 AM EDT

source: APTwigs crunch under the Timbos on my toes, and this is how it goes.

Blindfolded, I’m following. Following forever. For years, for decades. And then, just when I start to think, when I really start to think about why I’m wearing a blindfold in the first place, and why I’m following someone that I didn’t even choose as the leader, a person who has led me into a number of trees already, I tumble off the cliff.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Yesterday on Twitter, Fran and I were giving the Flyers front office a good old-fashioned ribbing as the natural result of a pending contract that is largely perceived as a joke by everyone outside of Philadelphia. No official poll has been undertaken by the mayor’s office, but I would venture to guess that most of Philadelphia met the news of Mark Streit’s impending signing with an exacerbated groan. He has a great offensive upside but our defense is not good defensively, and he’s not good defensively. Throw that in a pot with the fact that he’s 35 and mix in $22 million and you’ve got a stew, baby.

So it was in the middle of a streak of some clever and some not so clever 140 character odes to Paul Holmgren that a masked avenger felt the urge to share his own commonplace, knee-jerk retort to someone making fun of his team. I honestly don’t feel like scrolling back to Ctrl+V it verbatim, but it was something along the lines of “are you even a fan? shut up jerk.”

Back when we used to publish what Philadelphia Magazine never called One of the Top 100 Flyers Blogs of 2008, this kind of stuff used to really get under my skin. Am I a fan??? I write 1,000 words about this flipping team every flipping day and then spend 2 hours photoshopping Handzus hair on Patrik Thorensen!! Are you flipping kidding me?!?! But now I’m old and my balls are old and I prefer Dadspin to the Funbag and ain’t nobody got time for that. But from a more philosophical point of view, it is an interesting question.

source:  When I was younger, growing up in South Jersey, dry humping my bed while staring at my Legion of Doom poster, I used to italics-hate when my dad would criticize the Flyers. He was an idiot, he wasn’t a true fan, and what did he know about hockey anyway. But time always proves the youths ignorant, or at the very least naïve. And I’m not reaching into the Pedestrian Complaint Box to let you know that “I’m paying good money to watch this product” or that I think I personally could do a better job. The simple fact of the matter is that I am a fan and, like Will Smiff but certainly not his long jacket wearing son, was born in Philadelphia and have rooted for the Flyers my entire life – living in MA, then ME, then NY and now back in MA. I want the Flyers to be good so that in the tiny escapism opportunities I actually partake in, I can feel a sense of reserved pride. I can wear a Flyers cap while I steer my riding mower around (never grow up) my 30k feet of America, and when my neighbor Masshole Paul comes over to tell me about the Bruins he knows that like Wu-tang, I am nothing to F with, as indicated by the Flyers logo on my forehead. And for 30 years this has not been possible.

And now that I look at the club with a more critical eye it is disconcerting that the ONLY consistency in the organization since 2007 is the front office – specifically Paul Holmgren. That doesn’t smell right. That smells like a double beef Doritos Loco fart in the mouth. And while we’re on the subject of beef and beefing, my main beefs with Holmgren all result from his failed strategic vision. Please note the following comedy of errors:

-       Holmgren brought in Pronger with too little concern for the current chemistry of the room, or otherwise understanding of the possible repercussions this move would have

-       Holmgren then dug that hole a little deeper by off-loading Mike Richards to right his own wrong

-       Which was tied to bringing in Bryzgalov, who we are now going to pay 10’s of millions of dollars to not play for us.

Paul Holmgren brought in two captains that lived on polar opposites of the Captain Spectrum, and when it caused a rift in the locker room he chose a horse that marked a dramatic shift in the long-term outlook of this team. And I already know where you’re going with this, but Marc Savard averaged 83 points per season before his career was ended and the Bruins still moved forward. Do you want a GM that hasn’t won because of injuries or one who has built such a strong organization that he has won in spite of them?

All the other Modrys, Emingers, Parents, Alberts, Boyntons, Fritsches, Sloanes, Fitzpatricks, Krajiceks, Liljas, Bartuliseseses, and Shelleys, I can forgive. All the silly “low risk, high reward” signings that have turned out to be “low risk, no reward” don’t bother me.

Shoot, I can even forgive the Bobrovsky thing. Holmgren chose a strategy again. It was wrong. Again.

And that is the point, exactly. Paul Holmgren has been holding the reins for almost 6 years, and the Flyers are not discernibly better than they were on July 2, 2007. If anything, their bell-curved success over this time period proves that Holmgren’s time is over – he built a supernova and now none of it remains. Holmgren had his miracle run and now the sun is set. But everyone in that front office is just too busy basking in the warm glow of the Bullies’ Cups to notice.

The Flyers are broken. Paul Holmgren had a strategy and it didn’t work out. And the wake continues to grow more dangerous, by the day apparently. The residual impact is leaving us the laughing stock of the league. Every $5M piece of duct tape this guy buys sets us that much further back. We don’t need a short-term fix anymore. We need a new architect and a new engineer.

In the end, I think the organization’s lack of patience, embodied in the always-externally-praised “win now” mentality, has actually done the Flyers a disservice. Do you want to “always be in the discussion” or to have missed the playoffs 5 out of the last 10 years but also had a cup to show for it in that period? That’s the future of the game. Build the core. Keep the core. Add parts. Win one or two. Rinse and repeat.

No matter which of the above options you choose, as evidenced by last season and his continued incompetence, Paul Holmgren is not your man. And as a proud fan of the team and city, I believe they need a change. Someone in that organization needs to get it together, and see what’s happening.

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  1. TRON - Jun 18, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    When I was younger, growing up in South Jersey, dry humping my bed while staring at my Legion of Doom poster. Brian, Gary, Steve? I know too many people who fit this description

  2. Simmonds17 - Jun 18, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    “We” aren’t going to pay Bryzgalov a red cent to not play goal in Philadelphia. Ed Snider is going to pay him, however. How that directly affects you is beyond me.

    • BenE. - Jun 18, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      Well it’s an excuse to raise ticket prices again.

    • Duce - Jun 18, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      Oh. It’s that guy.

    • truthsayer - Jun 18, 2013 at 8:17 PM

      “How that directly affects you is beyond me.” Did you even read the article, dude? We’re fans. Paying Bryz millions to not play hurts the team and embarasses the team. If you love the team, anything that hurts the team or potentially hurts the team, hurts you, as a fan.

  3. BenE. - Jun 18, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Holmgren has made some decent moves, or, at least, controversial moves that yielded good returns (Richards and Carter trades). He is also extremely trigger happy and doesn’t wait out the market or look for better, more cost-effective options. He did it with Bryz and he’s doing it again with Streit. He sees a hole in the Flyers lineup, and he signs the next guy he sees on without further thought. I’m not necessarily advocating Homer should have done it, but it would have been so much better to trade Scooter for Yandle at the same cap hit than sign this f*cking guy.

    Furthermore, the Flyers were at $72 mil. They lose Briere and Bryz, and save roughly $11. So they’re down to $61 mil, $3 mil below the cap. Keep in mind these transactions haven’t actually happened yet. Then, he goes and gives Streit over $5 mil, which puts us back over the cap and DID NOT improve the defense in any way. Great, we got another guy who can tally PP assists. Too bad he can’t play defense.

    Meanwhile, I GUARANTEE we see defense trades and signings this summer involving more suitable defense men that we missed out on because Homer already blew his load. WTF.

    • smh... - Jun 18, 2013 at 1:02 PM

      Trading cooter is such a stupid idea…Not to mention that youre railing on Homer for being impatient, while one of your solutions is to trade a 19 year old forward with great offensive potential, who happens to be one of the best defensive forwards in the league…sure Holmgren is blowing his load, but getting rid of a 19 year old stud in the making after one and a half seasons is a perfectly reasonable thing to do–because we hate impatient win now moves….Besides, he only shut down Malkin, an mvp and one of the best players in the league, what…a year ago? That’s like 6 years in “what have you done for me lately, crazy philly fan” years

      • BenE. - Jun 18, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        Couturier is awesome but you’re honestly telling me Streit is a better signing than Yandle at the same price? Yandle is also an offensive dman, but is 10 years younger, AND has played solid defense on mediocre Phoenix teams. Not to mention he has not yet peaked, while Streit’s “best” days are behind him. Like I said, I am not advocating trading Scooter, but you cannot objectively tell me Streit is better than Yandle.

      • smh... - Jun 18, 2013 at 4:09 PM

        Never said anything about Streit being better than Yandle. Both options suck given the prices were talking about for each player respectively.

        Id rather give up read for a dman like yandle, but seeing as it looks like theyre dangling read in front of la for bernier, were going to hhve to spend money on a defeseman at some point. Not saying it shouldve been Streit, but this is still better than giving up cooter.

    • truthsayer - Jun 18, 2013 at 8:33 PM

      The Streit thing is a very, very troubling sign for this team. It signifies that it is indeed “business as usual” this offseason. Trade for a player who is about to be an unrestricted FA then try to sign him to big bucks. Can someone please explain the logic behind this? Why not let him hit the open market, save yourself the loss of picks in an unnecessary trade, and just sign the guy when he becomes an FA. What the flip is wrong with THAT approach for once? Maybe, just maybe, you could get the guy cheaper this way. Also, has anyone in management thought about the fact that there will likely be some decent D-men who will be amnestied by their current teams this summer, who you coul dget for really cheap because they’d be making 2/3 of their old salary from their former team (just like the Flyers are going to pay Bryz 2/3 of hsi salary), so they won;t need to make big bucks? Has anyone thought about that?!?!?

      Homer continues to play by the “old rules.” Under this CBA, the old Flyers way of spend (recklessly), spend (recklessly) and spend (recklessly) some more are OVER. The cascading effect of this Streit move will probably cause us to lose one or more of the following: Couturier, Laughton, Manning, Gustafson, Lauridsen, Voracek. I would much rather see this team suck for 3-4 years, get good picks (see Malkin, Crosby, Toews, Kane, etc.), and then go for a real run at the Cup than perenially be the team thats good enough to make the playoffs (most years) but never great enough to win the championship. Being good or very good in the NHL dooms a team to an endless cycle of 1st or 2nd round playoff exits (see Flyers over last 20 years). BTW, in Homer’s defense, the Bryz signing was ALL Snider. Homer had no voice on that one. I hate the Seidenberg and Sharp trades so much more than the Bobrovsky trade, and those were Clarkie’s, not Homer’s.

      Get ready for another 88-92 point season, with an 8-10 game streak in January, then an exit stage left come round 1 or round 2.

  4. reverendpaulrevere - Jun 18, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    Yes to all of this.

  5. Bob - Jun 18, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    Its an upgrade without losing our young core. Well done Paul. Everybody is an expert yet none work for an NHL team. So screw all you haters!

  6. yishmeister - Jun 18, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    I am pretty sure Bubby Clarke is still in charge.

  7. Lol - Jun 18, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    So you’re saying that, given enough time as a Flyers fan, everybody will eventually become jaded and self-loathing?

    Well I refuse! I am not a dick like that!

    Seriously though, that’s like every 60+ year old Eagles fan I know. Watching games with them is absolute misery.

  8. Pete D - Jun 18, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    One two oh my god- the flyers are paying Streit WHAT?

  9. 2sense - Jun 18, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    Great piece. And how conveniently applicable to “Phillies” or “Eagles” current situations as well (one wfc 5yrs ago acknowledged). We are short several cores.

  10. Eric Ostberg - Jun 18, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    As a fellow south jersian who was smart enough to get the hell out I applaude your article (are you even a fan bro). I too patiently await the day when I can fly and wear my colors of Philly an be proud of a champion and not just of an area where I was born. My brothers are jersey devil an New York giants fans and I am always eating shit because of their championships!!! Hopefully chip Kelley will change that in football and we can find someone to do the same in hockey!!! Love the article again. Fly flyers/eagles fly!!!!

  11. hitnrun - Jun 18, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    You can only hope the Holmgren *is* at fault.

    The alternative is that we’re entering an Al Davis phase that could last for…how old is Ed, again?

    • Chris - Jun 18, 2013 at 4:52 PM

      sadly you just hit the nail on the head I think

      but this all just goes into what I’ve been saying for years…the true “Philly Curse” is and always has been a history of terrible ownership/front offices for our teams…

  12. psudrozz - Jun 18, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    no FGSB got it right.

  13. bakernj - Jun 19, 2013 at 11:54 PM

    The definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

  14. Peter Von Piper - Jun 23, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Homer’s best move: getting Couturier. That was luck. Couturier fell down to the 8 spot. If that doesn’t happen, 2012 isn’t what it was. Team has Schenn, Simmonds, shaky Voracek, and Jagr and…someone else.

    Getting rid of the core that got to the finals to get Brzy was a huge mistake. It was just as bad as sending away all those players for Lindros. The Avalanche, Kings, and Bluejackets got the winning hand, but the Flyers have been doomed by a mindset which goes all the way to Snider.

    I can fault Homer, but he is the employee of Snider. Snider is both a businessman and passionate about sports. I don’t think he’s rational or uses logic or deductive reasoning. Or maybe he’s aware that a team that wins in the regular season (but may not be the best) will still fill seats, while a team that loses (and gets great picks leading to the Sedins, Ovechkins, Nashes, Crosbies, etc.) will have some empty seats, which may hurt the owner’s pocket/investment. It IS a business.

    I liken Snider to Dan Snyder of the Redskins. He’s not a game strategist. He thinks about profits (9/11 anniversary caps?) and sees big name players as commercial draws. The Flyers never have cap space because they pursue the big names, and they can’t afford to save up later for better markets. 2014 is going to be a great year for free agency, but the Flyers wouldn’t know.


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