Better With Popcorn

These Flyers are Less Hated


You know the drill. 
As the playoffs are ready to get underway, the strategy of the fans that watch is usually rather simple. 
It includes rooting for their favorite team and rooting against the Philadelphia Flyers. That’s the way it’s been and seemingly the way it would be forever.
Once the ‘Bullies’, the type of hockey that has become synonymous with the Flyers logo is quite a divisive connection. It’s not hard to see why, nor has it ever been.
Hockey grew up and got rid of the nonsense. The old time hockey is still around, but the examples are few and far between. Instead of frantically worrying about players being jumped on the ice, fans now dissect split-second hits. 
Some will say the Bullies bastardized hockey, and some will love it. But the line is never thin between the two. The Flyers have always been the Oakland Raiders of hockey, every time the team takes the ice; you’re either with them or against them.
This season, it didn’t seem like that anymore. Perhaps it was trading Mike Richards away. Richards was disliked by opposing fans for a long list of reasons that was never a secret. 
Daniel Carcillo the toothless pest is gone too. Chris Pronger, who finds a way to get under everyone’s skin around this time of year, is no longer playing due to concussion problems. 
Is it just the subtraction of these players that makes the Flyers less hated? 
Not exactly.
Zac Rinaldo is no fan favorite in New York or Pittsburgh, and he certainly has a reputation around the league. However, Rinaldo’s role on the team is so small and so young that there’s really no reason for someone to hate him that much. 
One of the players built in the Richards mold and sent east for the former Flyers captain will one day be hated. Brayden Schenn’s style of finishing every check and taking a few liberties will earn him no friends among viewers. It’s too early for that now. His career is just starting.
The Flyer that is the easiest for opposing fans to hate is Scott Hartnell. His on-ice presence and behavior will certainly ruffle a few feathers. However, Hartnell routinely applauds opposing fans for supporting their team and raises money for charity by making fun of himself. 
He’s not hard to hate on the ice, but it’s hard to see someone have a vengeful distaste for Hartnell as a human being. 
Mix the aforementioned factors with a style of play that is exciting to watch, a young superstar and an old one, and the Flyers gain points with the viewers.
When HBO’s 24/7 broadcasted much of the Flyers December stretch, fans were glued to their TV sets. Ilya Bryzgalov benefited the most from the show, and gained a cult following after series completion.
Maybe Matt Brigidi was right when he wrote that many around the league are starting to hate Pittsburgh. 
Even if he was, there’s no denying that the Flyers are a much more likeable bunch to the outsiders than they have been in the past. 
If that’s not a reflection of how anything can happen around playoff time, nothing is.

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George Prax's picture

I don't hate Pittsburgh, I'm indifferent towards New York, but over this past season I've definitely grown more fond of the Flyers. These aren't the Broad Street Assholes that I remember. They're soft like kittens now.