Philadelphia Flyers: Canceled playoffs would really hurt

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

With the Stanley Cup Playoffs up in the air, the Philadelphia Flyers and their fans would feel the sting more than most other clubs.

Right off the bat, I have to tell you that I’m not in any way trying to be flippant about the global crisis that has caused the unprecedented postponements and cancellations that we’re seeing in the sports world. This is yet another reminder of how the real world has to put sports in their proper place when necessary.

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Still, we’re all big fans here, so we are completely justified to feel disappointed about things, even if the greater good is being served.

Along with that, fans of every team now have a rare chance to step back and take stock of the efforts that we’ve been putting in. Have our investments of time, money, and (most importantly) emotion been worth it?

In the case of the Philadelphia Flyers this season, those investments have definitely paid off. And that’s why it would be so crushing if the NHL never got back to playing this year. They’re currently only in the postponement phase of things, but we all know that could easily turn into an outright wiping away of the playoffs in an instant.

More than most any other team in the league, a canceled playoff season would be really costly for the Flyers. And I’m not just talking about missing out on revenue. This is a team who desperately needed to get back on the map this year, as they had become a complete afterthought on the Philly sports scene. Even the Flyers’ “ride or die” fanbase had seemingly had enough and was choosing to wait and see earlier this season. As a result, the Flyers found themselves playing in front of the sparsest crowds in over twenty years at the Wells Fargo Center.

Still, this team has found a way to come together under new coach Alain Vigneault, banding together even more after Oskar Lindblom‘s cancer diagnosis in December. Since then, aside from a blip during their season-long road trip, this Flyers club has been one of the best in the league. They’ve blown by the playoff bubble and find themselves pretty comfortably in a postseason spot, a division title even within reach.

Now this postponement has happened, and a cancellation of the playoffs would hurt the Flyers on several levels.

Veterans at the top of their game

The Flyers were treading water without the typical contributions from Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. But they’ve each been point-per-game players over the last two months, also helping to bring the team’s power play up over 20% for the year. The uptick in offense has obviously been a key to the Flyers’ winning ways, as it feels like they can score with any team in the league when their top players are getting it done like this. The other veteran scorer on this team, Sean Couturier, kind of goes without saying. His year has been fantastic from the start, and it would be a crying shame if he couldn’t see it through to the end. Just hacking it short at 69 games is extremely disappointing.

Kids need playoff experience

The biggest factor here is Carter Hart, who would benefit tremendously from getting into some NHL playoff action. He’s certainly played well enough this year to earn it, and any exposure to it at a young age would only help his development. While he can build on his fine regular season work, it’s a real blow to the organization if their franchise goalie doesn’t end up seeing any playoff time this year. Other notable Flyers with scant NHL playoff experience: Ivan Provorov (6 games), Travis Konecny (6), Scott Laughton (9), Travis Sanheim (4). It sure would be nice to get them some chances to play in the postseason.

The Flyers have a legit shot this year

Yes, this “leap” year by the Flyers kind of came out of nowhere, and it certainly seems like their potential championship window has several years to go. But you can’t take any chance lightly; it’s not “an honor just to be nominated.” Even though they’re not playoff-tested, why not this year? Chuck Fletcher has assembled the team he wanted, and now moves like his offseason acquisition of Justin Braun and deadline pickup of Derek Grant might all be for naught since they are both on expiring contracts. Fletcher, and really any GM, should be able to take playoff performance into account when deciding whether or not to offer new contracts. Now, if the playoffs don’t end up happening, Fletcher is basically flying blind in his evaluation of the team since he won’t have gotten to see what they were fully capable of. This all has to be leaving Flyers fans shaking their heads. It took a decade to put a true contending team on the ice, and it may not even end up mattering this season.

Flyers: Everybody's gotta lose sometime. dark. Next

If we don’t end up seeing a Stanley Cup awarded in 2020, it will surely be for a good reason, and we should all respect the seriousness of the situation. But sports have mattered to us for a long time, and they will continue to matter again once we get back to playing games. For the Flyers’ sake, I really hope that the “next time” is this spring in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They deserve a shot, and so do their fans.