Patience Builds a Winner
The single greatest aspect of the Philadelphia Flyers is the “win now” attitude that Ed Snider has bred into the franchise. We, as fans, have always felt the Flyers would do everything in their power to ice the best team possible but sometimes…
Winning now has cost the Flyers a cup or two in their storied history. Sure the Flyers weren’t an original six franchise but it seems like they’re just as much apart of that history as any of those six teams (Canadiens, Rangers, Maple Leafs, Blackhawks, Bruins, and Red Wings). In 1967 the Flyers entered the league as part of expansion and built a nice core of players through the expansion draft taking players such as Bernie Parent, Joe Watson, Ed Van Impe, and Gary Dornhoefer who were all apart of the 1974 Stanley Cup winning team. The Flyers built through the draft slecting Bobby Clarke, Dave Schultz, Don Saleski, Bill Barber and the list goes on…
Those 1974 through 1976 Flyers, known as the Broad Street Bullies, won 2 Stanley Cups and went to a third championship round with teams built almost entirely through the draft.
Since 2000 the Flyers have been to a Conference Final four times and once to the Stanley Cup final. Pretty good success but it was costly success at times. At certain points they traded away young and promising players to fill a gap in order to make a run at the Cup and other times they dealt away players for draft picks that didn’t necessarily pan out for the Flyers.
Of course the first trade that sticks out is a 2002 trade with Tampa Bay when the Flyers sent Ruslan Fedotenko to the Lightning for the 4th overall pick in that years draft. Philly drafted Joni Pitkanen, who was highly touted, but the Flyers wound up dealing Pitkanen 5 years later with Geoff Sanderson to the Oilers in exchange for Jason Smith and Joffrey Lupul. Fedotenko was notoriously a thorn in the Flyers side helping the Lightning to a 2004 Stanley Cup Championship beating the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Final. Fedotenko scored twice in game 6 and once in game 7 for the Lightning in that series. Then in the Stanley Final against the Flames Fedotenko scored twice in game 7 leading the Lightning to their first Cup.
Justin Williams was moved to Carolina in January on 2004 for defenseman Danny Markov. Williams would go on to win cups with the Hurricanes (2006) and Kings (2012) while the Flyers are still looking for their first since 1975. When healthy Williams is an excellent offensive player in 2005-06 and 2006-07 Williams posted back to back 30 goal seasons but since then he’s injured quite frequently. He still managed to put together nice seasons for the Kings in 2010-11 and 2011-12 with 57 and 59 point seasons. While Danny Markov is long gone from the NHL, Williams is still producing and winning Cups.
The 2004 trade of Chris Therien to Dallas came back to bite the Flyers in that years playoffs when the Flyers were shorthanded on defense. Though you can’t chalk that up as giving up on a player, Therien certainly would have been a boost to a depleted D-corps.
In 2005 Bob Clarke made possibly his worst trade as Flyers General Manager sending Patrick Sharp to Chicago in another case of giving up on young talent. Clarke, in exchange for Sharp, got Matt Ellison and 2006 3rd round pick along with some baseball cards and a few broken sticks. Sharp, of course, would become a prolific goal scorer for the Blackhawks stringing together six straight 20 goal campaigns including three seasons in which he posted 30 plus goals (career high 36 in 2007-2008). In 2010 Sharp helped the Blackhawks defeat the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Final and scored a huge game tying goal for the Hawks in the game 6 clincher. The pain!
Including Mike Richards and Jeff Carter would probably qualify but since the Flyers knew what they had in both players you could put those trades into a separate category. GM Paul Holmgren wanted to change the culture of the franchise get younger and move forward. Richards and Carter both won a Cup together in Los Angeles along with Williams and Simon Gagne.
If Gagne wasn’t a cap casualty we could toss that trade into this equation because that trade was downright awful. Flyers acquired Matt Walker for Gagne. Matt. Walker. It looked like Holmgren did Lightning GM Steve Yzerman a favor with that one but geez you’d think the Flyers could get something of substance back.Walker, by the way, is still stealing money from the Flyers.
The point I’m making is that Holmgren shouldn’t be ready to make any trade involving young players. Patience is the key. Sure Brayden Schenn is starting slowly but take a look at Justin Williams and Patrick Sharps numbers in the early part of their careers. Those guys weren’t lighting up the score sheet either. Patience. Follow the LA Kings model, young guns like Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Drew Doughty with Jonathan Quick to backstop. A young core of good players and finally when they felt the time was right they brought in some experienced veterans like Richards, like Carter, like Gagne.
Follow the Penguins model, follow the Red Wings model of building through the draft. Anything but the Bob Clarke model.
Patience Flyers fans, patience.