Bold statement, huh?
Indeed it is, but there are reasons for the following banter.
In order to analyze the current state of the Flyers, we should stack them up against last year's Stanley Cup winners, the Boston Bruins. The Bruins defeated the Flyers with heart and toughness, nothing else. They didn't have "sexy" names on their roster (aside from Zdeno Chara), and they sure as heck didn't seem to have a chance to win it all heading into the playoffs.
But they did.
Not only did the Bruins win the Stanley Cup, but they defeated arguably the two best teams in the NHL that season in the Flyers and Canucks. So, you may ask, how does a team go about doing what the B's just did? Well, it takes ego-less players, heart, and toughness. And just as I said above, the Bruins have all of that.
You can hate me for this or not, but Jeff Carter and Mike Richards had enormous egos and we all noticed it as soon as Chris Pronger went down at the end of the season. Where was the leadership? Where was the captain? Where was the team's leading scorer? All absent. Richards ducked the media and often snarled when criticized or asked a tough question and Carter gave the usual "we need to play better hockey" answer.
In Philadelphia, that's a big no-no.
Jeff Carter was talented, no doubt. He scored a ton of goals last season, but the fact of the matter is that he didn't show effort on the ice. Most of his goals were ones which came from him being at the right spot at the right time. Carter didn't hustle and was often out of position. Many Flyers fans were left scratching their heads.
So, after the recent team shakeup, I wasn't the least bit surprised. Actually, I was surprised that Paul Holmgren actually made the move, but I wasn't surprised about the move. It took balls on Holmgren's part.
In trading away both Richards and Carter, the Flyers were able to secure three promising forwards (Schenn, Voracek, and Simmonds). The Flyers also cleared about $11 million in cap space from the two moves and also used the first round draft pick received from Columbus in the Carter trade to draft Sean Couturier, a 6-foot-4, 200 pound center. Brayden Schenn is about 6-feet, 200 pounds and still growing, Wayne Simmonds is 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, and Jakub Voracek is 6-foot-1, 205 pounds. The great thing about all of these players is that they're young. The average age is around 22.
Max Talbot, Jaromir Jagr, and Andreas Lilja were all acquired through free agency. Jagr and Talbot are tough and gritty and the jury is still out on Lilja. Sure, Max Talbot and Darroll Powe are basically the same player, but Talbot has a jagged edge to him. Jagr is also tough...when he wants to be.
People used the term "Broad Street Bullies" very loosely these past few years when describing the Flyers. They weren't a tough team. They didn't intimidate anybody. The "real" Bullies were probably home laughing.
The Bruins? They were scary. Anyone who knew hockey knew that the Flyers were in trouble when they had to face Boston in round two. We all saw what happened next.
* * *
The precedent is set.
Tough, cold-hearted players are what it takes to win a Stanley Cup and the Flyers appear to have secured some.