New Team Brings Apprehension
Once the wrecking ball completed the journey through the Flyers roster following last season, there was no doubt apprehension would follow. And it has. The Flyers fan base has seen an interesting and at times, tumultuous offseason. The captain’s gone, his sidekick is in Columbus and the season’s around the corner.
The really tricky thing about Philadelphia’s offseason is that they really only added one known quantity to the roster. When an exodus the magnitude of the one that general manager Paul Holmgren put into action occurs, usually the return soothes the hearts and souls of the fans. Aside from forward Maxime Talbot, the new players in orange and black each bring their own questions to the table.
Brayden Schenn is a rookie who very few have actually seen in game action. Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds are players with tremendous upsides, yet they need to tap into them. After playing in Columbus and on the west coast respectively, some fans haven’t been exposed to them. Jaromir Jagr isn’t what he once was, and no one knows how much he has left in the tank after playing in Russia. Ilya Bryzgalov is facing the pressure of the crease in Philadelphia, which has broken many before him.
Last year, the Flyers came into the season as a known quantity, save for the young Russian goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky. The known quantity was one that was expected to compete for the Stanley Cup, and they did that until the end of the season. It would be generous to use ‘compete’ when describing their play against the Boston Bruins in last season’s Eastern Conference Semifinals.
There’s no evidence to suggest that the core of the unit that existed last year would have gone the next step and won the Stanley Cup, and there’s no evidence to suggest this team will either. However, the ‘black box’ that the team is this year is much different and less pleasing to those who fill the seats.
When a team like Minnesota rebuilds the roster, it’s a cause for excitement. When a team that was a favorite to win the Cup last season sends away key pieces of the franchise, it’s devastation. The prevailing thought of, ‘well, why couldn’t they just keep the same team?’ has been a popular one this offseason.
Regardless of popular opinion, the roster is what it is as this point and this season will be interesting to say the least. Wells Fargo Center will embrace the players in orange when they take the ice. The different name on the back of the #17 sweater may be uncomfortable at first, but Simmonds physicality won’t be uncomfortable for Flyers fans. Schenn’s growing pains will be felt, yet his play will probably open some eyes during the season.
The apprehension that comes with a new season is expected for any NHL team. Yet, the Flyers’ retooling creates even more than the usual questions. The intrigue and excitement that unfolds will be fascinating when the puck drops in October. For an offseason that has produced such controversial moves in the eyes of the fans, that puck drop can’t come soon enough. It will finally bring most of the diehards in orange and black back to the common denominator that unifies them.