It’s April 3, and the Philadelphia Flyers have officially been eliminated from contention for the postseason. That’s a rare sentence to write.
It might feel like we are in lean times, as the Flyers have now missed the playoffs twice in three years, and just barely made their appearance last year. The team hasn’t really felt competitive in about five years, and it’s clear that among fans, there’s growing impatience with coach Dave Hakstol and maybe even general manager Ron Hextall as the clubs continues to flounder in this terrible position of mediocrity.
Not good enough to contend, not bad enough to get a top draft pick that makes it all worth it. It’s purgatory, and it sucks.
I’m not here today to say that those feelings are unwarranted. They are, and the fact that it’s been a good four or five seasons since the team has felt anything like a contender is disappointing. That they took an apparent step forward a season ago, only to take a dramatic step back again this year, is not acceptable. There are bright spots on the horizon in the form of younger reinforcements, but there are legitimate questions about Hextall’s patient approach and whether or not this team will turn into a contender while Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek are still at the tops of their games.
I am here to say that we should take a deep breath and look at the bigger picture, however. We’re going through some of the most lean times in Flyers history when it comes to playoff contention, and that says a lot about just how good we’ve had it through the years.
Consider: In 49 seasons, the Flyers have only missed the postseason a total of 11 times. Five of those seasons came consecutively from 1989 to 1994.
Those bad early 90s years were sandwiched between two appearances in the conference finals. And that’s a perfect analogy for what I’m trying to say: while the team has missed the playoffs 11 times in their 49 seasons, they’ve qualified for the conference finals a total of 16 times in 49 seasons.
We might only have two Stanley Cups to show for all of this, and that’s enough to make any of us feel the pain. The team might be frustrating as hell right now, but they’ve also given us a ton of fun over the years. It’s important perspective. We have it pretty good.
Year-in, year-out for 50 years, the Flyers have made it their routine to entertain us deep into May. We shouldn’t lose sight of that in the big picture, even as we’re frustrated with the current state of this organization.