Flyers Finished: What Does it Mean?

Now the only mystery left in the Flyers season is how the Philadelphia Daily News will sum up the season. Many weary Philadelphians will drop their sixty cents tomorrow morning, glance at another tacky tabloid headline and skip to the Signe Wilkinson cartoon. Another season of failure, another year in the cup drought, another season of falling to the underdog, another first round failure. The Flyers make it four out of the last five seasons they flunked out of the first round of the playoffs. The only question left is “where do we go from here?”

Bill Barber’s firing is a foregone conclusion, likely to happen before the draft. Many will ask why the once popular coach will fall, but like his counterparts: Murray, Cashman, Neilson, and Ramsey the Flyers lack of energy and willingness to play as a team will lead to his undoing. Two first round losses with a team with over 50 million dollars in salary are unacceptable.

The Teflon GM in hockey, Bobby Clarke, seems like he may have ran out his tenure as well. Sure his job has been in danger for years, at least with the fans, but Snider isn’t in the same position he has been in over the last few years. It is obvious that Bob Clarke is Snider’s idol, but this isn’t Snider’s team anymore, it’s Comcast Spectacor’s team. The board may lack Snider’s faith, they have relied on it for long enough.

In addition to Clarke and Barber, Adam Oates’ position seems in question. The aging center, who the Flyers mortgaged their future to get, is an unrestricted free agent this summer. The questions will be raised: Why would Oates want to come back to this team; will the Flyers pay to have Oates come back? Both those answers seem like “no” to me.

My Plan for the Off-season:

Fire Bob Clarke, Bill Barber tomorrow

Hire Neil Smith as GM

– (experience dealing with high payroll teams, won the cup in ’94, and comfortable in tough media center like Philly.)

Keep Paul Holmgrem in position of assistant (if he wants the job) due to draft savvy.

Hire Ken Hitch***** or Ted Nolan as head coach.

–Experience dealing with high paid players. Stress defense, while tough on their players. Ted Nolan would be the better of the two.

Sign Bill Guerin and Igor Kravchuk

– (power forward with great skills who lives in Medford Lakes, NJ, and puck moving defensemen)

Trade John Leclair to the Rangers for Radek Dvorak and Tom Poti/Mottau

– (Rangers would be interested in teaming LeClair and Lindros, while Flyers get a talented young forward and puck moving defensemen)

Let Richardson walk

Attempt to resign Oates at 1-2 year contract, but nothing more than 4 million a season

Make a run at Holik and Kasparaitis

–Physical players who add grit and skill…

Make a run at Slegr

–Sleeper who rides the bench in Detroit can sign him for relatively little.

Make a run at Cujo or Richter

–Flyers need a stable goaltender, and may be in a position to unload great amounts of salary to get it.

Dump Desjardins: Somewhere somebody can offer draft picks right??

Trade Boucher or Cechmanek: Destroy the controversy and pick one (if they can’t land Richter or Cujo), neither can play with the other hovering over their shoulder).

Consequences of This Season:

Barber’s and Clarke’s Jobs

Oates’ Status

Gagne’s Contract (Think if Gagne had a big postseason, instead of zero points, may have cost him years and millions)

Richardson’s stay

Obvious team shakeup and may be call for fiscal responsibility

It should be an interesting summer; hopefully the Flyers realize that a Stanley Cup takes a gamble, instead of adding to mediocrity.