Four-for-Four: Valentine’s Day Edition

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Feb 1, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds (17) as he celebrates his goal with defenseman Luke Schenn (22), defenseman Andrej Meszaros (41) and center Claude Giroux (28) in the second period of game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports


Last week, a peak into the fire and tenacity of Flyers owner Ed Snider was put under the spotlight. With his team and players all on their multi-week Olympic Break, a concept that Snider is not thrilled about, Snider sat down with Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Many remember Sielski as the journalist who ruffled Snider’s feathers following the firing of Peter Laviolette, questioning the culture of the Flyers organization when it came to making personnel decisions. Fortunately, both parties involved in the minor dispute are professional enough to have had a phone conversation with one another and discuss the state of the Flyers franchise. As expected, the results were pretty funny.

"MS: I wonder if, when things are good for the Flyers, you perceive them as being really, really good, and when things aren’t so good, you perceive them as being really, really bad. I wonder if that sort of vacillation might contribute to not winning the Cup. ES: I don’t understand the question. You keep using those adjectives that I don’t think I use or even think. I always have wanted to win. That’s my MO. I’ve always wanted to win since the time I started this team when I was 33 years old."

Sometimes one has to take a step back and consider the fact that Snider has been around since the Flyers’ inception. He was able to achieve success at such an early age, that it has ignited a fire that has ceased to recede, sometimes to the detriment of his own team. Sielski clearly still has an impact on the Flyers owner, given the slightly snippy nature of Snider’s response.

"MS: Sometimes, it appears to an outsider as if the constant making of these moves leads to a vicious cycle that keeps you from achieving your goal. You’re quick to make a change when you perceive, “Things aren’t working right now. We have to make this change so we can win a Cup.” ES: All you’re doing is criticizing the moves that we’ve made. MS: No."

While Sielski is by no means alone in his relentless criticism of some of the recent moves made by the Flyers, he is particularly stuck on the transactions that have taken place since the team’s run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. By no means am I certain that the team is close to contending for a title as constructed, but Sielski and others tend to overlook the fact that the Flyers have collected some extremely impressive pieces over the same stretch of time.

"MS: Maybe I’m not making myself clear. For example, within a couple of years of designating Carter and Richards as the centerpieces of your franchise, you traded them – for whatever reason, whether it was because Pronger was hurt or whatever. That’s always been the franchise’s MO: “We’re going to go for it.” And in the constant going-for-it, you’re shortchanging yourself. You’re in effect harming your chances of winning. I know it sounds counterintuitive. ES: That’s what you might believe, Mike, but that’s not what I believe. So you can take it any way you want it. I think we’re always trying to win, and whether you want to criticize the moves we make, you can do that. But I like what we do, and I like how we do it, and we think our fans like what we do. They know we’re always trying to win, and that’s all we can do."

If there’s one organization that has always had the best interest of its fans and former players in mind, it’s the Flyers. Say what you will about the way they run a team from a competitiveness standpoint, but it’s no mistake that the Flyers are one of the most prominent American-based hockey franchises in the league. Similar to some of the complaints surrounding Andy Reid before his departure from the Eagles can apply to Snider’s methodology running the Flyers. The team is almost always competitive and among the top contenders in the league, but the longer they go without winning a title, the more one can’t help but doubt as to whether it will ever happen. If you’re not a fan of Snider, you’re out of luck unfortunately. Even at 81, Snider seems as determined as ever and, at this point, I cannot imagine him changing anything before his time running the team comes to an end.


Jan 18, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Jersey Devils right wing Jaromir Jagr (68) looks on during the first period against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most difficult aspects of being a Flyers fans is having former players excel on different teams beyond where they did with Philadelphia. While the normal list of characters often includes Jeff Carter, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Patrick Sharp there is one player who is quickly climbing the list of most-missed Flyers, Jaromir Jagr.

Currently of the New Jersey Devils, the 42-year old Jagr continues to defy the odds and make a general mockery of the human aging process. In 59 games with New Jersey, Jagr has 17 goals, 32 assists, and a staggering +21 rating. Jagr, who ended a multi-year retirement by joining the Flyers for the 2011-2012 season, has since jumped around three different teams as he continues his storybook career.

Despite playing for a division rival, Jagr has only continued to endear himself to the fans of Philadelphia. He has shown support for former linemate, Claude Giroux, over the course of the young Flyers’ forwards up and down season. Even last season, when Jagr was traded to the Bruins during a Stanley Cup run, he was quick to wax poetically about his time in Philadelphia.

"“I was very happy here, everybody knew it, I love that team. I love the fans. I love the city. But on the other side, I always believed in God, and I always believed He finds the best place for me.”"

It’s incredible what Jagr’s retirement did to him as far as the opinion of him as a player. He went from a mercurial talent that quit on the sport after being unable to recapture early success to a universally adored figure in the NHL that is somehow still capable of dominating the game. Jagr even did enough to be named to his 5th Olympic team for his native Czech Republic team today. He scored his 2nd goal of the tournament in their win over Latvia on Friday and, when asked what role his age played in withstanding the Olympic break, Jagr delivered an answer only he could.

"“I don’t get old, man, I am alive. God help me.”…”We always feel good, we are from the Czech Republic. We are always loose, man. We’ve got always fun. No pressure.”"

I am convinced Claude Giroux would be a recognized top-five talent if the Flyers kept Jagr on his line for one more season. Nevertheless, Jagr is a rare division foe that one can actually root for without second thoughts.


In the Flyers last game before the Olympic break, they hosted the Calgary Flames. Knowing he would not be able to do so for almost three weeks, Zac Rinaldo made sure to squeeze in as much physicality into one shift to hold him over the upcoming respite.

Poetry in motion…kinda.