Homer's Strategy for Rebuilding


(Stick tap to The Onion and the great DGB).  

Scene:  June 30, Flyers Headquarters, Press Conference.  In an alternate universe.

Homer:  Well, I’ve asked you all here today to discuss the events of the last week or so.  In particular, I want to deal with some rumors that I have been lying to players about my plans for the team and how I plan to structure it in the future.  I’ve decided that we all need to start with a clean slate, and there will no more lies.  From here on, you can trust me to not hold anything at all back.  I’ll give you the whole truth. So ask away.

Reporter:  So, Paul, why did you trade Carter and Richards?  And had you been planning this for a while, or did this just come up?

Homer:  We’ve been planning on trading them for 2 years or more.

Reporter (shocked): Paul, when I asked if you were planning this for “awhile” I meant for a few months.  Two years?  That was before the Cup Final in 2010? What gives? So you completely lied to Carter about him being part of the team’s future?

Homer:  (Sadly) Yes, it’s true.  I feel terrible about this.  That Cup Final really confused us all.   Our plan was in place until Boucher and Leighton played way over their heads.  Olli Jokinen!  Can’t depend even on the Rangers.  I guess especially the Rangers.

Reporter (now confused himself):  But if the run to the Cup Final interfered with your ultimate plan, what exactly was that plan?

Homer:  It evolved starting with the draft in 2006. 

Reporter: You mean when Claude Giroux was picked? 

Homer:  That’s right.  We had our man until those pesky Rangers picked him.  We were forced to pick someone whose name none of us could even pronounce. 

Reporter:   Clarke famously stumbled over Giroux’s name.

Homer: Right.  And really, that pick was completely random, a guess.  But soon, we saw how great Claude could really be.  And finally it started to dawn on us, our selection of players was entirely wrong.  We needed a different strategy.

Reporter:  You mean draft more French-speaking players like Giroux and Gagne?

Homer: No.

Reporter: Drafting more players who have strong reputation in juniors?

Homer: No.

Reporter: Relying more on your scouts to help you make the pick?

Homer: Are you kidding? Absolutely not!

Reporter:   I’m stumped.  What’s your strategy Paul?

Homer: We realized that we needed to acquire players who had names that North American English speakers could not spell and could not pronounce. 

Reporter:  Huh?

Homer:  See, it was genius.  We had no idea who this Giroux guy was, just grabbed some guy off the street, and wham-o!  NHL superstar!  And none of us, management, fans, reporters, none of us could spell his name, and for awhile we didn’t know how to pronounce it either.  I mean, what do you do with that X anyway?   It’s completely redundant (Although, I’ve noticed a serious increase in the number of fans we seem to have in Louisiana,  the Geaux Flyers Club).  So, we created our own secret formula:  get rid of as many players whose names you can pronounce as you can and add players who frustrate your paper’s copy editors. 

Reporter (wildly checking his phone to see if he can halt whatever version of the paper is currently being planned to wait for this story):  This is um, interesting.  Can you explain how you went about this?

Homer:  Well, the first big test was the draft of 2008.  We knew what we had in Claude.  And we found out we were going to get the number 2 pick in the draft.  We were very nervous about this.  It was very tense in the war room.  But, finally, thankfully, the Hawks gave us a big favor, and drafted Patrick Kane!

Reporter: Excuse me?

Homer: So we could draft James van Riemsdyk! Now, we did not want to get into any prejudices about anyone or any country or ethnic group.  So here was van Riemsdyk, from right up the road here in Jersey, and here was someone no one had any hope for ever spelling his name right!  And we are so proud of how JVR is turning out!   I still don’t know whether the “v” is capitalized or not. 

Reporter: (impatiently) So what does this have to do with Carter and Richards?

Homer: Well, if we were going to implement this strategy, we can’t keep someone like Carter…I mean, there was a President named Carter (wasn’t there??).  And almost all of us have had some co-worker or acquaintance named Richards.  So everybody knows how to spell those names.  We knew we would eventually have to get rid of them.

Reporter: But you did not trade them right away?

Homer:  No, we had to do some interim trading and rearranging of the roster.   You know, getting players like Leino, Versteeg, calling up Gustafsson (with those 2 Ss).  And our favorite undrafted free agent acquisition, Mike Testwuide!

Reporter: Hmmmm…so Snider’s decree that you get Bryzgalov was based on his unusual name?

Homer:  No, no, of course not.   I did mess up in choosing a goalie at first…I mean, who knew that “emery” was the right way to spell “emery board” and that that  university in Atlanta got it wrong! What a disaster.  But by last year, we had two promising players in goal…really, shouldn’t his name really be pronounced “Butcher”?  I mean, he’s from Rhode Island, that’s what you’d expect he would be called there.  And then that Bob-something guy.    But don’t get me wrong.  Ed wanted an upgrade.  Most of the fans just called them “Bob” and “Boosh” and didn’t bother spelling or pronouncing their real names anymore.  It was time for a change.  Ed just didn’t say I had to sign Bryzgalov in particular.  Of course there was one deal that he ordered over my objections.

Reporter:  Really, Paul.  Want to come clean on that one?

Homer:  Getting Pronger.

Reporter:  What?  You’re saying that you lied about wanting Pronger?

Homer:  Why would I want to trade Sbisa and Lupul for that guy?  Fantastically complicated names.  I never did learn how to pronounce either of their names.  I mean, Pronger’s not a typical name but it’s pretty easy to spell for most people.  But Chris has really been great, better than I anticipated (thanks Ed!), and as a result, we focused on getting bapmuns.

Reporter: Wait, what? “Bapmuns?”

Homer:  Right, sorry.  That’s our internal acronym/numeric developed by our crack advanced statistics guys.  “Best Available Player * Most Unusual Name.”  You want to maximize that numeric in all transactions.   There is no one else like Pronger, so his number is high without an unusual name.  Of course, if we could, forget "Bing" Crosby, we’d go after Stamkos in a heartbeat.

Reporter:  OK, I can’t miss deadline on this. Paul, cut to the chase.  Tell me about the Carter and Richards trades.

Homer:  Yes, great trades. .  It was hard turning down that trade for Evander Kane that Atlanta, I mean Winnipeg, offered us – did you catch that funny piece where they said that THEY turned down that deal?  Ha! –but we’re sure glad, given the low BAPMUN created by his last name, that we did.  Because we love Schenn.  I still don’t know if his name is pronounced “Shane” or “Shen” or even “Sheen” but whichever way it is it will be sure to be misspelled and mispronounced by thousands of fans!  Simmonds was just a throw-in, although having that “d” gave him a bit of panache. 

Reporter:  Uh-huh.  So what happened with Carter?

Homer (eyes lighting up):  We really cleaned up on that one, huh!  We knew that Voracek would be an impossible name, with those weird accents or umlauts or whatever they are, I don’t even know where those things are on my keyboard. His first name’s no picnic either.  But the real surprise was Couturier dropping to us.  What a find!  We can expect years of mispronouncing and misspelling on that one.  Hall of Fame BAPMUN credentials!  And then we found Noebels and Suellentrop, really a great day in Flyers history! 

Reporter:  Last question, Homer.  What can we expect in the future?

Homer:  Well, our stats guys had me read that great piece by Todd the Fox the other day – have you seen it yet? – where he assesses our need for a shutdown UFA center.  So I’m going to try to see what I can do to get Handzus or Goc.   But first, I have to figure out a way to package Read and Cousins for a future draft choice – after all, those draft choices have always been my first priority.



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