Entering the 2011-2012 season, no one really knew what to expect from the Flyers. The core of the team had been shipped off in the summer, and youngsters Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk were expected to step up as the new leaders.
All in all, the season was pretty damn exciting. Claude Giroux definitely filled the role assigned to him, putting out his undisputed best effort to date. That year we also saw the emergence of the best line in hockey (at the time) with newly acquired Jaromir Jagr playing alongside Giroux and Scott Hartnell. I still miss that line.
Of course, we all know that the Flyers fell short of their ultimate goal, getting knocked out of the playoffs in the second round by the underdog New Jersey Devils. But who cares? The previous series against the Pittsburgh Penguins was so freaking awesome that I didn't even care what happened next. OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but admit it, watching the Penguins collapse is always amazing.
Remember the game that both Giroux and Sean Couturier had hat tricks? Remember when Giroux knocked Sidney Crosby on his ass and scored a goal immediate after just because he felt like it? So, so good.
Anyway, after the dust settled, adjustments were made and some Flyers were sent packing. Let's talk about them.
Sergei Bobrovsky - G
What happened to him? After the Flyers signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a bazillion dollar contract, it was clear that Bobrovsky's future in Philadelphia would be short lived. While Bob put up decent numbers his rookie year, he took a step back in 2011-2012 while playing the role of Mr. Universe's backup. With his stock down and the Flyers allegedly set between the pipes until the end of time, Bobrovsky was shipped off to Columbus in exchange for a couple of draft picks.
How is he doing? Well -- he won the Vezina Trophy his first year in Columbus and is now playing for Russia in the Olympics. You do the math.
Would you take him back? Probably. Even though he's come back down to earth a bit after a stellar 2012-2013 season, I still see him as a better option than what we currently have in net.
Matt Carle - D
What happened to him? At the very start of free agency, idiot and former Flames general manager Jay Feaster threw a truckload of money at sub-par defenseman Dennis Wideman. That kind of screwed the entire market for free agent blue liners, and unfortunately it pushed Matt Carle's asking price above what the Flyers were willing to pay. Once it was clear his time in Philly was over, Carle promptly signed a lucrative deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
How is he doing? Carle definitely isn't playing the way he used to in Philadelphia, and has taken a bit of a step back since re-joining the Lightning.
Would you take him back? Probably. Carle was absolutely amazing when he was in Philadelphia and played well despite having some bum partners. The defense could use and upgrade, too.
Jaromir Jagr - RW
What happened to him? Let's face it -- we all knew that Jagr's motto going into free agency was C.R.E.A.M. When the Flyers didn't offer him the maximum amount he could garner in the NHL, he signed with the Dallas Stars. Midway through the following season, he was shipped off to Boston to help them try (and fail) to win another cup. In a bid to play for as many teams as possible in his final years in the NHL, Jagr signed with the New Jersey Devils for he 2013-2014 season where he currently plays.
How is he doing? Right now he has 49 points in 59 games, which, if you take into account that he was born in the roaring twenties, is pretty darn impressive. Jagr just doesn't age
Would you take him back? Yes. Jagr really helped Giroux emerge as an elite player and still has some gas in the tank. I can't imagine how having him back for a few more games could hurt.
Andreas Nodl - RW
What happened to him? Early on in the season, Paul Holmgren placed Nodl on waivers to "gauge interest" around the league (still one of the dumbest things I've ever heard). The Carolina Hurricanes showed their interest and snatched Nodl up immediately, knowing they'd get a regular roster player for absolutely nothing because Holmgren is kind of stupid sometimes. After some disappointing play in Carolina, Nodl went back to his native Austria in 2013, where he currently plays.
How is he doing? Kind of hard to me to tell, but considering he went from a regular NHL player to the AHL then back to Austria in the span of a little over a year, I'm going to guess not so good.
Would you take him back? No. Nodl was largely a disappointment in Philadelphia and never lived up to expectations. We already have an Austrian, and he's way better.
Chris Pronger - D
What happened to him? I seriously doubt anyone needs a refresher on what happened, but just in case, I'll fill you in. Pronger suffered a number of brutal injuries early in 2011, including a nasty stick to the eye and a concussion. The latter would prove to be a career ender for the veteran blue liner. He's still in the Flyers organization (and still earns a paycheck), but he'll never play another NHL game.
How is he doing? :-(
Would you take him back? A million times yes. Ever since losing him, the Flyers have been looking for a Pronger replacement. Problem is, despite how often young players get compared to him, there's nothing quite like the real thing. It sucks that he's gone and we'd all probably go nuts if he came back. He won't, though.
James van Riemsdyk - LW
What happened to him? Like I said earlier, van Riemsdyk was expected to step up and try to replace the void left by getting rid of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Unfortunately, his 2011-2012 season was limited due to injury, and even when he did play, he wasn't living up to his heightened expectations. In response, management sent him to the Toronto Maple Leafs in return for Luke Schenn.
How is he doing? Amazing. JVR really broke out once he got the hell out of Philadelphia, and is one of the stars in Toronto. So far this season, he has 47 points in 58 games, and he'll probably breach the 30 goal mark. He's also playing for Team U.S.A. in the Olympics right now, and he looks mighty fine on that comically large sheet of ice.
Would you take him back? When the Flyers traded JVR, I was OK with it. Sure, they maybe could have gotten more, but Luke Schenn seemed like relatively fair value. Yeah, well, that's just not true anymore. I'd take JVR back in a heartbeat.
So there you have it. A lot of guys left at the end of that season that we'd probably all take back. Did I mention that the Flyers missed the playoffs the next year?