Flyer’s Fans Need to Change THEIR Culture & Perspective!
By: Mike McShane
Die-hard, and easily maligned loyal, Philadelphia Flyers fans got a rare, albeit not surprising, view into the mindset of their long-time owner and Chairman Ed Snider during the Monday, October 7 press conference announcing the dismissal of head coach Peter Laviolette.
As a member of the previously mentioned fan base since 1974, I’m secure in stating that Flyers fans rank as one of the best in the NHL . . . perhaps in all of sports. I’m also fairly secure in reporting that I feel the majority of the “die-hard” orange-and-black faithful felt “Lavy” got a raw deal being unceremoniously fired after only three games into the 2013-14 campaign and coming off that irresponsible thing called a “season” earlier this calendar year. Being an aforementioned member of the clan, I’m also comfortable in stating that the “Flying Puck” pumpkin head zombies (I’m including myself, folks) that make up the rank-and-file annually sold-out seated “sheeple” have had no standards . . . no goals (pardon the pun) . . . and no vision past what’s been sold to them, frequently on the fly, by their tribal leaders. Maybe . . . just maybe . . . until NOW!
During the announcement of Laviolette’s demise, Snider was pointedly asked what his thinking was in elevating the previous coach’s assistant coach (Craig Berube) to the big office. The short, but telling tait-et-tait between Snider and Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist Mike Sielski broke down to Snider’s Ayn Rand philosophy of “culture.”
Snider reviled at Sielski’s use of the word “culture.” “What’s the culture?” he angrily retorted like a child almost daring the reporter to reveal Snider’s secret. Sielski brought the hammer (not, Dave Schultz) down; “the culture that hasn’t won a championship in four decades.”
Snider attempted to equivocate claiming the team is annually competing having appeared in numerous playoffs and Stanley Cup Finals concluding with, “30 teams are trying to win the Cup. And we’re doing our damndest to do it. That’s our culture. THAT’S OUR CULTURE!”
However, Snider’s climax of the Philly-version of The Emperor’s New Clothes came when Sielski attempted to follow up by asking about bringing in a coach with a “fresh perspective.” “No, we don’t need a fresh perspective. We have a pretty good culture and we know who we’re dealing with.”
Bingo Ed! So, there IS a “culture!” That spoke volumes and, I must admit, may just have turned the corner for an old-time; rough-and-tumble; elbows high; play-the-man not the puck; drop-the-gloves hockey fan like myself.
Having played the game for over a decade beginning in the mid-70’s like my Broad Street Bullies icons, there are a lot of things about the 21st century NHL they feed us three-four times a week I do not like. What the hell is “hybrid icing”? . . . Bring back the red line! . . . Smaller nets & goalie creases? Really? These are just a few of the many modifications the professional game has succumb to over the past two and half decades in an effort to be exciting, offensive, TV-marketable, and in short, relevant in a (sorry MLS fans) four-sport market.
I’m in my early 50’s and, I may not like it. But, if I want to buy it, I got to accept it . . . and still appreciate the sport.
Based upon the microcosm of Flyers fans I heard all day on Monday calling Philly-based sports-talk radio programs, I believe most of them got it as well. Most echoed the same mantra; Ed is the one who is out of touch with the game. He’s living in the 1970’s and believes that the “Shero System” will get his iconic team back to the glory days of championships and parades, and nothing . . . NOTHING is going to change that. Not rule changes. Not the atmosphere of the 21st century NHL. Not the League office. Not the marketing and television contracts. Most, especially, not even the fans or the hometown media.
But, that hasn’t worked in 38 years of trying.
Like every other “Flying Puck pumpkin head zombie” fan, I tuned in to the fourth game of the Flyers season on Tuesday, October 8. The new head coach Craig Berube, a former Flyer enforcer who in 20 years on the ice played nearly 1,100 games and had over 3,100 penalty minutes . . . but only 61 goals as a left winger, managed the team for his very first NHL game, and the Flyers beat the Florida Panthers 2-1.
Good for the Flyers team and their fans, but that wasn’t the news.
The news came during Berube’s first professional post-game press conference.
Just one day from being publicly chastised by the owner, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Mike Sielski was at it again queering Berube on the boneheaded 14 minutes in penalties Jay Rosehill took in the third period. Berube conceded that Rosehill’s actions were “unacceptable.” However, when Sielski followed-up with whether there would be “disciplinary action,” Berube retorted, “do you want me to spank him?” His comments to Sielski were snuffed out further with a “Get lost.”
Hate to be the bearer of bad news Flyers fans, but THERE’S your “culture” at work . . . and, the worst part is that all of us die-hard orange-and-blacker’s laughed right along with everyone else at that very short “I’m-in-charge” moment.
Right THERE . . . right at that very moment, I recognized that NOTHING is going to change and the cloaked “culture” is in full force. See, Berube initially said the right thing. Rosehill’s actions were “unacceptable,” but, when pressed about discipline? Hell no . . . Berube condones his behavior and he proved that through his own words . . . “do you want me spank him?” No, I think in the new NHL we want to hear that you’re going to sit him for a game . . . perhaps half a game. How about this Craig, you tell us you’ll take it up with the player personally and he’ll be hearing from you? Wouldn’t THAT be the appropriate response in today’s NHL?
No, instead the day following the revelation of the “culture” . . . the new head coach . . . the guy with three times more penalty minutes than games played . . . the “Broad Street Bully” publicly dismisses a reporter in his very first post-game press conference, and then adds “get lost”, and “stupid.”
Flyers fans, like I have for many years, you may love the rough-and-tumble take-no-crap concept of the old Flyers hockey, but it’s “old” and it won’t win a Stanley Cup. The ownership and subsequent management of this team will not realize this until WE tell them loud and clear. If that has to be done by sitting out a game or two . . . or three and not going to the Wells Fargo Center; calling a radio station or two and voicing an opinion; or, replying to blog sites like this one, something has to get the message through to Ed Snider.
Real simple that message is, “Ed, you’re naked, and that culture went out a long time ago with streaking.”