Monday, August 22, 2011

30 Fans in 30 Days: Rachel & the Philadelphia Flyers

As a lead-up to the new season, here at HockeyBroad we'll both be reviewing How Teams Spent Their Summer Vacation, and also profiling one fan from each team's fandom, covering 30 Teams In 30 Days. The teams will be profiled in order determined by their points standing last season, highest to lowest, with the exception of Chicago, which will be profiled last to coincide with the date of their Training Camp Festival.

Team 3 of 30: the Philadelphia Flyers


Although Philadelphia had another solid season in terms of points - they ended up second in the East with 106 to Washington's 107 - their late-season performance was affected by injury to their star defenseman, Chris Pronger.

After battling it out with the Buffalo Sabres to 7 games in the first round of the playoffs, a wounded-looking Flyers team was easily swept out of the second round by a 20-7 goal margin.

It was a major change from the 2009-10 season, where the Flyers had been down 0-3 in the second round and completed a historic comeback to knock the Bruins out of the second round in 7 games (and, of course, go on to the Final round).

During the summer of 2010, the Blackhawks had to revamp their roster due to the salary cap. The Flyers, their competition in the Final round, had little turnover and solid depth, and it was widely expected that Philadelphia would be in a good position to battle it out for the Cup again. The season didn't turn out quite as well as last year, and this summer, the Flyers completely overhauled the roster by completing a series of high-profile trades and acquisitions.

June 23rd was full of blockbuster moves for the Flyers. First, a surprising blockbuster trade sent Jeff Carter, who was drafted by and spent the past several years with the Flyers, to the Columbus Blue Jackets, and brought Jakub Voracek (Draft picks that became Sean Couturier and Nick Cousins) back to Philadelphia. Next, the Flyers traded team captain Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings for wingers Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn. But Philadelphia wasn't done yet. Finally, they signed former Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a muli-year contract (they had traded for his rights earlier that month), guaranteeing he'll be the Flyers' franchise goalie. Bryzgalov's signing paved the road for Brian Boucher to depart for the Carolina Hurricanes, and should resolve the Flyers' "goalie carousel" issues. They also signed returning NHL legend Jaromir Jagr; and acquired Maxime Talbot from their top cross-state rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Departures include agitator Danny Carcillo and experienced d-man Sean O'Donnell (both were signed by the Chicago Blackhawks on July 1st), as well as trading Kris Versteeg to Florida, Darroll Powe to the Wild, and Ville Leino, who signed with the Buffalo Sabres.

New to team - listed on current roster/team acquired from: Ilya Bryzgalov (PHX), Jaromir Jagr (KHL), Andreas Lilja (ANA), Brayden Schenn (LAK), Wayne Simmonds (LAK), Maxime Talbot (PIT), and Jakub Voracek (CBJ)
Players who appeared in games for the Flyers during the 2010-11 season that have been traded or not yet re-signed/(team now signed with): Brian Boucher (CAR), Nick Boynton, Daniel Carcillo (CHI), Jeff Carter (CBJ), Ville Leino (BUF), Sean O'Donnell (CHI), Darroll Powe (MN), Mike Richards (LAK), Danny Syvret (STL), Kris Versteeg (FLA), Matt Walker, Nikolay Zherdev
The Flyers underwent an extensive overhaul this summer, surprising their fans and the resulting shockwaves echo across the league. The team will be more solid defensively, especially with Bryzgalov in net, and there will be bigger demands on the various up-and-coming stars of the team (Schenn, Simmonds, van Riemsdyk, Giroux). The team roster currently does not list any players designated as Captain or "A"s. Most predict that Chris Pronger or perhaps Danny Briere will be selected for the "C" this year.

Expect the Flyers to once again rise to the top ranks of the Eastern Conference and make the playoffs, although we will have to see what kind of chemistry these players share as the season opens.


For our third of 30 Fans in 30 Days, we talked to Philadelphia Flyers fan Rachel, found on Twitter at @rmiriam

Let's talk about your Flyers fandom history.

Fan since birth - proof: my own personal baby Flyers tee from when they won the cup in '74. #wantagrownupversion (left)

Even though I live in Utah, I still keep up with my Flyers action as best as I can. I have been known to get on airplanes on a moment's notice to go see them play. I have been a fan for as long as I can remember, but I really connected with the Flyers in the mid 80's. I was a swimmer at the time and trained in the same complex in Voorhees, NJ as the Flyers. I would run into players in the weight room & lobby and got to hang out with Ron Hextall, Tim Kerr & Mark Howe, to name a few. For a 10-12 year old, it was the most incredible thing. They were so nice to us kids, and really solidified my personal connection to the team.

Which player that your team signed/acquired this summer are you most excited to see take the ice this season?

Brayden Schenn

Taking into consideration your team's performance last year/recently, and any player/personnel (coaches, GMs, ownership) changes made in the past few months, talk about your team in 2011-2012: How do you think they've improved (or made worse)? What do they need to work on? Discuss anything related to your team's performance for the 2011-12 season, good or bad.

I'm nervous, but excited, to see this rebuilt Flyers team. It was fantastic to have some interest in the draft this year for the first time in a few years. Between acquiring Schenn & drafting Couturier & Cousins, they did a great job adding some young talent.

With Carter & Richards gone, this could be the year for JVR to step up. I really hope that happens. I'm also looking forward to Giroux & Briere having a great season. My concerns are primarily on the Defensive side. I worry that Pronger won't stay healthy and Timmonen doesn't quite have the gas left in the tank for a full brutal season. Andrej Meszaros has the potential to break out this year, though.

The other giant question mark for me is Bryz. Is he worth all that cap money? I certainly hope so. I don't doubt his passion, or intent to make good on the contract, but I'm just hoping to not get burned on the deal. As for the "C", I am betting they give it to Pronger, but would prefer it go to Briere. He's tough but easygoing with his teammates, both of which I like

Whether or not you think your team will make the playoffs, where do you predict your team will place within their conference? (1st-15th)

4th in the Eastern Conference

What existing hockey rule would you change (and how) if you could?

I hate the shootout, as it reduces a complete game to a basic skill competition. A good first step would be to adopt the 3 point system (regulation or OT win is 3 points, a shootout win is 2 points and a shootout loss is 1 point). You don't get points for an OT loss. I would also consider lengthening OT to 10 minutes.

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