As much as I want to see the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s hard to imagine a good outcome.
For the Philadelphia Flyers and every other club in the National Hockey League, raising the Stanley Cup at the end of the season is the ultimate goal, an accomplishment that can never be taken away from you.
Except, probably, for this year.
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With the league kicking around some ideas about how to resume and then complete its season, you really have to wonder if the team who emerges triumphant this…summer, I guess, would be seen as a legitimate champion. That’s really a disappointment for the Flyers and other teams who were in the mix, and it’s even worse for their fans.
Let’s picture a scenario where the NHL gets going once again somehow, and the Flyers lose in the first or second round of the playoffs. It’s still going to hurt. Maybe it won’t feel as painful as it would have under normal circumstances since all of the momentum of the season was halted months ago. But if everyone gears back up for the Stanley Cup Playoffs only to see the Flyers’ title shot go quickly out the window, it will leave a bitter feeling of disappointment and wondering if it was even worth getting excited about the season resuming.
One positive takeaway at least would be that Carter Hart, Ivan Provorov, and other young Flyers who have little to no playoff experience would be able to get some games under their belts and hopefully learn from them going forward, even they came in an unusual situation. But it would still go down in the record books as another season where the Flyers failed to go all the way, extending their Cup-less drought by yet another year. Even if the Flyers went pretty deep before ultimately being eliminated, it would provide greater hope for the future, but it would still have all the sting of a playoff loss.
Let’s imagine for a moment, however, that this Philadelphia Flyers club picks up right where it left off, marches through whatever playoff format the NHL manages to come up with, and ends the 2019-20 NHL season by skating around the ice with the Stanley Cup. For a Flyers lifer like myself, it would be a dream come true. Except not. I didn’t wait decades for this to happen only for it to be in an empty building amid a bunch of controversy about whether the games themselves should have even been played while larger and more important social issues hung over everything. It’s also highly unlikely that you’ll have a parade.
Winning would be awful. I never thought that anything could be worse than losing, but in this case, I think that winning but not having anyone acknowledge it as being legitimate might be even less desirable. To be clear, I’m not going to root against the Flyers if the Stanley Cup Playoffs get played, but the whole time I’m going to be dreading what will happen if they actually win. What a horrible feeling. We wouldn’t even be able to lord it over Penguins fans or Capitals fans or whoever we come across. They’ll just say that it didn’t count, and we’d have to shut up. It makes you wonder what the point of playing out the rest of this season even is. Oh, right. Money. That’s the only point. Maybe former Flyer Radko Gudas has the right idea and we should just call it a day and focus on next year.
At least we can all fall back on the fact that this Flyers team seems set up for success for the foreseeable future; this year presumably isn’t their only or best chance to win. And we can still get enjoyment just from the return to live action. It will fill a void. But in the big picture, all I want is to watch this team finally bring home a championship, and I don’t see any way that the wish gets properly fulfilled in 2020.