This season was about one goal and one goal only. Erasing the ghosts of 1975. Anything less than that would be considered a failure. That is the standard that any true Flyers fan should demand. Division titles and playoff appearances are reserved to the standards of Jeffrey Lurie and Company. Flyer Nation demands more ! On paper, I feel this team should have been as successful as the Wales Trophy team of 2010. So why did we fall on our faces ?
1) No favorable draws this year.
Lets be brutally honest. Montreal did us a huge favor in 2010 whether Flyer fans want to be objective or not. Had we not gotten the draws starting with New Jersey and bowed out early, people would be demanding for Holmgren's head right about now. Maybe Laviolette's after his Goalie indecision too.
2) Age caught up to our defense.
Sure appears that Pronger, O'Donnell and Timmonen hit the wall simultaneously. I understand Prongs and Timmo played hurt for a good chunk of the year. However, they are in their late 30's and one needs to be concerned if Father Time has caught up to them.
This needs to be Priority #1. This team is constructed to win now. We cannot wait 2-3 years for Bobrovsky to MAYBE become the second coming of Parent or Lindbergh.
4) Richards and Carter
These two contracts are an albatross on us in terms of freeing up space for Reason #3. Flyers have $400000 in Cap Space for next season as we speak. Richards is now saying he played hurt with a wrist injury. Regardless, he was on the ice and didn't find the back of the net as a captain should do. He led by example in our 2010 run. However, he came up small this year.I'd go so far as to say he doesn't deserve captaincy. Briere should captain. He's mature at 33 and has came up large in the playoffs in the past few seasons.
Jeff Carter. Jeff Carter's contract has a no trade clause that DOES NOT kick in until the 2012-13 season. His 5 million is the most moveable amongst the core of 20 somethings signed longterm. I don't want to hear about his injuries. He stays healthy during the season so from a timing standpoint, he always saves his worst for when it counts. You cannot objectively say he has played up to his potential during the playoffs when in the line up. He plays small. He does not crash the net as guys a foot shorter (slight exaggeration) like Briere. He isn't wired between the ears to have the nasty streak needed to justify is decade long committment. His 5 million will free up enough space to bring in an elite goaltender. Even if we get a first round pick and nothing else....move Carter and free up the cap space.
I support Laviolette as Flyers coach for next year. However, this team never found its way after the All Star Break. Maybe Versteeg messed up the chemistry...maybe not. Regardless, our team never found its way since the beginning of March. There could be many reasons for why the team wasn't cohesive. Locker room drama, undisclosed injuries,etc., etc. Regardless, Laviolette's job is to throw things at the wall until it sticks. He never found anything that truly stuck these past two months.