Heading into this bizarre season, hope, promise, and expectations surrounded the Philadelphia Flyers. After positive moments last year, many viewed them as a franchise close to contending. Some even went as far as dubbing them the team to beat in the East Division.
Before their unfortunate pause due to Covid, opinions varied about the Flyers and their performance to that point. Even though they were winning, Philadelphia looked like a flawed hockey team. They either needed to make some drastic improvements or results would start to reflect their play.
Unfortunately, the Flyers appear to be the same flawed team. As expected, the losses are starting to pile up.
Now, the big topic of conversation is what Philadelphia plans to do about their current free-fall. There’s no denying changes need to be made. At this point, the coaching staff has tinkered enough with the current roster, proving external help is necessary. However, one has to ask if Philadelphia making in-season moves this year is even worth it.
If the Flyers start actively pursuing ways to improve this roster now, one would assume the powers at be feel as though this team can contend now for a Stanley Cup. It’s hard to imagine Chuck Fletcher trading for rentals or bringing in players with term remaining on their contract, with the expansion draft looming, if the Flyers are not in a serious place to compete for a championship. If you asked him early on in the season, maybe Fletcher felt like his team was one solid addition away. Now, however, those feelings have likely changed.
You cannot boil down Philadelphia’s current struggles to one thing. Of course, some may immediately jump to the defense. However, they are far from the only problem. Carter Hart looks shaky, the entire team is careless with the puck, lacks any physicality, and some players fail to contribute at the level the Philadelphia Flyers need to be successful. One can also include the coaching, but I tend to put most of the onus on the players. Does all of that go away by bringing in Mattias Ekholm? The answer is no.
Philadelphia’s issues appear far more deep-rooted than just improving the top-four. Fletcher and the rest of the front office really need to have a long hard look at every component of this roster and decide what really needs to change. Likely, that will involve a great deal of change. Maybe even at a level unrealistic to accomplish during the season.
Now, to suggest the Philadelphia Flyers need to participate in a full-on rebuild is incredibly foolish. There are some quality pieces in place that make this team not too far from being a real force in the conference. Simultaneously, some long-time members of the roster are proving they are not helping with moving the needle forward. If the team fails to make the playoffs this season, which is totally possible, a culture change needs to happen. Don’t mistake culture change for the front office or coaching changes. I am talking about what is taking place on the ice. The players need to be held accountable, which may lead to some serious alterations.
Of course, that train of thought right now may come off as overdramatic. The Flyers can still turn things around. However, with every disappointing performance comes increased levels of dissatisfaction. One best believe that it isn’t only felt among fans but also throughout the organization. There comes the point where taking the same approach to the roster every year flirts with insanity.
If the Flyers truly want to make a move to save this season, they need to do it now. Almost at the season’s midpoint, each loss digs the team into a deeper whole more difficult to climb out of. If Philadelphia’s descent continues much longer, the focus will shift to changes for next season, not this one.
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire