I couldn't help but wonder in light of recent events, as well as news that Maroon has been signed to a new 1 year contract, what the Maroon debacle says about the current state of the Flyers organization. Maroon was at the time he was literally kicked off the Phantoms, the teams' leading scorer. Holmgren went up to "investigate" the situation, which apparently meant having a meeting with Maroon to inform him he was being kicked out of the organization. This was the first incident where the organization would make a move based on the premise that a player simply could not be managed by the organization and coaches, but as it turns out, it was only the tip of the iceberg.Tim McManus reported at the time, that at the end of Oct. when Maroon was dropped from the team, and subsequently traded to Anaheim in the deal that brought back Danny Syvret, that according to Paul Homgren, Gilbert had nothing to do with the Maroon situation, and Holmgren "was 'absolutely' satisfied with the job he was doing." About 9 days later, Glibert was fired, after leading the team to a 2-10-1 record. Maroon, who is in-arguably a physical prospect at 6'4", has proven he has if nothing else, that highly prized "big man's scoring touch", as he went on to lead an equally abysmal Syracuse team in scoring, which no doubt lead to his new contract.
In this past season, we have the mishandling of Maroon/Gilbert in the Phantoms, mishandling of goalies on the Flyers (relegating your rookie playoff starter to the press box after one soft goal), mishandling/squandering of Nick Zherdev,, and now mishandling of franchise players Mike Richards and Jeff Carter who both took home town discount contracts with the assurance that they were cornerstones of a team that proved they are within striking distance of a long awaited championship.
What troubles me the most is this narrative about team dissension and how everyone has to love each other and get along for a team to be successful. That is utter nonsense, and I'd urge anyone interested to go read "The Jordan Rules" if you want to see just how dysfunctional a championship winning professional team can be. The Flyers organization seems very much to be the type of patriarchal authoritarian dinosaur that is more than willing to sacrifice success in the guise of a mistaken belief that membership on a roster is the equivalent of induction into a military organization. That might make for a nice storyline for people who admire that sort of value system, but not a great prescription for professional sports success.
Perhaps this explains the rampant fatalism and cynicism displayed by much of the fanbase on this great blog which seems always to be waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop, rather than viewing with anticipation the next challenge and the Flyers far better than even odds of success. Watching the team in the Richards/Carter era has left me with a deep and nagging dissatisfaction in my gut, because I have started to question for the first time that the organization has its priorities straight. This no longer looks to me like an organization run by a group with a high hockey IQ -- the very same organization that saw the winning pedigree and leadership potential in Mike Richards, and raw talent of Claude Giroux when so many other organizations did not. It now looks like a stodgy out of touch group of old men who seem surprised that everyone doesn't love each other, and worship the coach as if the team was the Lombardi era Green Bay Packers, when in fact they don't seem to be able to forge a relationship with their own kids, who they never actually engage in a meaningful conversation.
What does this last season, and off season fire drill really say about the Flyers as an organization? And what is it that is really missing here?
The greatest irony is that the only championships the team ever won, were achieved under the cerebral tutelage of Fred "the fog" Shero, who lead a rag-tag group of individuals to success with ideals and inclusion rather than an iron fist. In short -- the type of coach that would probably never be hired by the current Flyers organization.
In Shero's wikipedia page you find this wonderful summary:
Shero's introverted, enigmatic personality had an effect on the way in which he coached players. Shero often communicated with his players by way of notes left in their lockers. When he did talk to them, he was known for never yelling. He believed that when coaches yell they do it for their own sake. He always defended his player whether it was in the press or even against management. He always tried to make sure his players were focused during the game. He often asked them how much time was left in the period to force them to pay attention. He had a unique take on practice as well. If the team was winning then he worked the team hard. If they were losing then there would be a low key practice. He believed that he could get more out of players when they were winning. He often had drills designed to let the players have fun, stating that "Hockey is a child's game played by men. Since it's a child's game it ought to be fun".