Thread: Ben Eager
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12-16-2005, 10:06 PM
Gert B Frobe
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Originally Posted by BobbyClarkeFan16
Let me state this. I'm a die hard Flyers fan through and through. I disagree with many people on here because I've witnessed this team go through some really good times and some really BAAAAAAAAD times. That's not to say that others haven't witnessed the good and the bad either. I'm just stating that when things were really bad, not a lot of people stayed on the Flyers bandwagon. I remember being ridiculed for wearing a Flyers jersey during the Russ Farwell era, but I never gave up being a fan because I always thought the glory days would come back soon enough.

The glory days did start coming back. But there was one thing that I began to notice that was very similar to the start of the Flyers decline and I worried about that. The thing that I noticed was that the Flyers would always go with a veteran ladden team and youth would never be incorporated into the top two lines. Instead, youth was served on the third and fourth lines and when the potential was never realized, the youth was shipped out. This happened with guys like Terry Murray, Wayne Cashman, Roger Neilson, Craig Ramsey and Bill Barber.

When Ken Hitchcock was hired, I literally jumped for joy because we brought in someone who was going to take the team to task and he was going to do the right thing in ensuring that everyone knew what their role was and we were going to play as a team. The other thing that really had me stoked was that Hitch said he was going to incorporate a lot of youth into the line up and he was going to bring back the exciting style of hockey that he used in Kamloops when he coached the Blazers of the WHL.

When Hitch came to Philadelphia in year 1, I knew that there was going to be some growing pains as we got to see who would and who wouldn't be players for us. I was really hoping that we would see youth served as guys like Justin Williams and Simon Gagne were going to be pegged for the top lines and that we were going to have a lot of youngsters on the D to play. But something funny along the way happened.

The youth movement plan took a left turn somewhere along the way. With injuries to Gagne and Williams, there was no plan to bring up other young wingers (Brendl, Pletka, Divisek, etc......). Instead, Hitch ran with the veteran ladden team. As well, none of the youth was incorporated to the defense. Guys like Joe DiPenta, Bruno St.Jacques, etc.....weren't given any ice time and were sent down to the Phantoms. Now, don't get me wrong, I understand the importance of winning, but it seemed that the plan to incorporate youth was thrown out the window.

Now, I chalk up year one of the Hitchcock era to injuries and the pressure to win, that's fine. But year two, Hitch stated the same thing. We were going to incorporate more youth into the lineup. The veterans were going to have to take a backseat to the youngsters as the youngsters were going to be groomed to take on more responsibility with the team. So, I was really excited again because I thought that finally, youth will be served with this team and with the core of veterans we have, the youth will also be insulated with veteran leadership and it can only be a good thing.

Instead, what we got was Gagne demoted to the Primeau line. Gagne was supposed to be a scorer and instead, his season was pretty much put to waste. Williams was dealt for Markov because we had no D depth left after dealing it away. We picked up Mike Comrie, who was supposed to inject some much needed life into our offense, but he was dealt off because he couldn't grasp the Hitch system. Players like Amonte and Leclair were given more ice time than guys like Gagne and Williams because they were veterans. The only youngster to crack the defense was Pitkanen and he was given little minutes to begin with and at times, he was a healthy scratch. Seidenberg was sent to the Phantoms, yet we kept a spot on the D for Therien because he was a team favourite.

I became furious with Hitch, not because of he was trying to win. I can't blame anyone for that. I was furious because he had no interest in using the youth. He didn't have a development plan in place to balance winning and developing and he relied pretty much on veteran players. The youth being served motto with Hitch was nothing more than a lie. Not only that, but this team started looking like the Flyers teams of the late 80s and early 90s. We were playing players who were on the downside of their careers, but we wouldn't play any of the youth on the upside because it would have made some of the veterans look bad.

At that point, that's when I became extremely bitter towards Hitch. I took a look deeper into the Dallas organization and I pretty much saw the same thing there. Lots of youth that was to be incorporated into the lineup and to be used at key postions, but that youth was never used because veteran guys like Benoit Hogue and Mike Keane were used instead. I saw the Flyers of the late 80s and early 90s happening again.

Fast forward to today. We have a top line of Gagne, Knuble and Forsberg and I have no problems with that. We have youth, size and experience on that line and I'll kudos where kudos is due. However, I see guys like Carter and Umberger and then I see guys like Kapanen and Radivojevic getting more ice time than these two. I see a Sami on the downside of his career and I see a Carter on the upside, but we can't make room for the upside. I see Radivojevic, good young guy, but a career third liner, getting more ice time than someone who can be a great 2nd line player. I also see a defensively rigid system in place that does not exploit and utilize the offensive gifts that a lot of the youngsters on this team have. I've stated before that all of our guys are good defensively. If you're a Philadelphia Flyer prospect, the one thing you know is how to play defense. I just see offensive talent being wasted at the expense of defensive rigidity.

I don't know about anyone else, but when the 2004 playoffs were going on, we weren't playing that tight defensive system that we're used to. We played a free flowing offensive game and we were dynamite. We were outshot in every series, yet we came oh so close. The one thing that I noticed was when we tried to tighten up the game defensively, we got beat. When we kept the game free flowing and loose, we won. And that's what baffles me. We showed we could win playing a free wheeling type system. We showed we could score goals, we could make big plays, and still be good defensively when the need arose. Yet, for some reason or another, the reins remain so tight, that we struggle to get by.

I don't get why we should be struggling. I don't get why Hitch can't open things up a little more. All what I see when I watch the Flyers is a team that struggles to get things done. Maybe I'm tired of seeing all this talent and seeing 3-2 games because we have a coach that seems to not have confidence in the group of players that we have. So yeah, I'm really rough on the Flyers because I EXPECT more than what I'm seeing. I EXPECT this team to dominate, yet it seems we get by through the skin of our teeth. I EXPECT this team to start a huge run, yet it seems they are still off track.

This is by far one of the most talented teams on paper that I have ever seen. I take a look at this team and I see a team that should be tops or 2nd in its conference. Instead, I see a team who is sitting 5th in the Eastern Conference right now. I see a team that has a coach who is still trying to coach the game and not his players. I see a team with a coach who is really reluctant to use the youth that he has available to him. I see a team with a coach who has made all kinds of excuses for a completely inept penalty killing unit, yet has done nothing to correct it or than wait for players to come back.

That, in a nutshell is what infuriates me about the Flyers. All this talent, all this depth, and all this ability, but there's always something that consistently holds this team back from greatness. And that's what I'm frustrated with. Now, that isn't to knock anyone on here because if I did, I sincerely apologize. I don't apologize though for my criticism of the team because Hitch has had plenty of time to get things done here and he hasn't. He's been given every excuse as to why he should remain here, yet nobody questions any of the promises and ideas he made when he took the head coaching job and he's failed to deliver on his end.
get a job

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