To Dave Scott, Chuck Fletcher and the Philadelphia Flyers,
I write to you as a distressed, life-long Philadelphia Flyers fan. I am unsettled by the apparent plan for the future of this once storied franchise.
I became a Flyers fan in 1996 at the youthful age of five, sneaking into my parents bedroom to watch Flyers highlights on Sportsrise before school. I went to my first Flyers game in 1997 and from that point forward I was hook, line and sinker, completely invested in the hockey team on Broad Street.
Over my lifetime I have seen two Stanley Cup Final appearances. I have witnessed many a playoff battle. I have had the privilege of watching great players come and go, from Eric Lindros to Simon Gagne to my all-time favorite, Claude Giroux. And even though I have never experienced the incredible thrill of watching my Flyers reach the pinnacle of the sport and achieve the ultimate goal, I felt I could always count on two foundational elements: 1) the organization would have in place a professional, competitive, winning culture, and 2) the fans would be treated with appreciation and respect.
Over the past decade, and particularly the past four seasons, I feel this organization has lost sight of those critical pillars, so much so that I worry the current regime does not have enough bread crumbs to get us all back home.
Let us start with the second foundational element, the fans. Attending Flyers games has always been something to look forward to throughout my life. I try to make it to a few games a year, maybe splurging on some lower level seats for a game. Recently, however, it has become somewhat of a financial burden. Between the tickets themselves, parking, food and drink, I’m lucky if I can find enough change in my seat cushions to make it back over the bridge to my home in New Jersey. I understand the upgrades to the arena likely cost a pretty penny, and while I can appreciate having to raise the price of amenities with said upgrades, it would be nice if the ends justified the means. That is, if I’m going to pay $70 per seat for even decent upper level seating, $20 for parking and $16 for a gourmet milkshake, the product on the ice better be more than sufficient.
Which leads to the first and arguably most important element. This once lauded organization has devolved into a smorgasbord of abysmal practice and assembly. I have suffered through some trying times as a fan of this team, but never once was I afraid or concerned for the direction of the Flyers - until now. Despite a number of press conferences from key members of the organization assuring us of brighter times ahead, I fear it resembles something of a rudderless ship, floating out to sea, hoping for a destination with no clear or especially rational plan in place. And what’s worse, is the feeling of being sold a false bill of goods.
Not all Flyers fans are on the same wavelength regarding the "how", the "who" or the "why", as Mr. Fletcher so eloquently states, "we are where we are". We all have and are entitled to our opinions, so I do not speak for us as a whole. However, if there is one thing on which I believe we can all agree, it is that we do not take kindly to deceit. We are a highly intelligent fan base capable of wading through the feeble attempt of a hollow sales pitch you have so aptly named an "aggressive retool". We know it to be nothing but a hollow sales pitch, because it simply cannot be possible for a once highly respected and reputable franchise to be so foolish as to believe this organization can be completely transformed in one year’s time given how far it has fallen.
Let us take a quick glance at your current position. An arena once known for striking fear into opponents is now so empty you can sit in the rafters and hear Gritty snoring at ice level. Your current peers in this league comprise of a rebuilding Blackhawks organization rife with controversy and filth, a Coyotes organization who can barely put two cents together to find a patch of ice to call their home, and an expansion team lead by a coach you fired four seasons ago for being the human equivalent to a wet paper bag behind the bench. It becomes more evident with each passing day this organization is nowhere near the standard Mr. Snider had set and demanded for decades.
And you have the nerve, the gall, the impudence to look us all in the eye and promise us a swift ascent to glory? Did you also want to sell us some beach front property in Idaho?
I hope you are being deceitful, as it would be even more embarrassing and shameful for you to actually believe what you are woefully attempting to sell to this dying fan base.
Therefore, as a Flyers fan dangerously close to my wit’s end, I have a plea - nay, a requisition: do away with this impractical concept of an "aggressive retool" and put in place a realistic plan to rebuild this organization from top to bottom. Be honest and forthright in your intentions - particularly with yourselves - to restore this franchise. Use that "blank check" to acquire the resources necessary to assemble a front office and all of the departments it encompasses that rivals the upper echelon of the league. Hire developmental and pro-level coaches capable of getting the very best out of each player night in and night out and who will instill a culture of tenacity and accountability. Use the foreseeable future to build through the top of the draft and acquire dynamic, elite-level young talent around which you can construct a sustainably successful roster - a critical cog in the machine you and those before you failed so miserably to accomplish during the Claude Giroux era.
I implore you: do not set this franchise back even further by using that "blank check" to attempt the unfeasible of taking a bottom five team to a legitimate playoff contender in one summer. Again, we are an intelligent and knowledgeable fan base. If we can see the impossibility of what lies ahead in your claim to an "aggressive retool", so must you.
Make us this promise, and I wholeheartedly believe we will all be better for it. As abysmal and frustrating as the past few years in particular have been, we can power through a true and necessary rebuild knowing a clear directive is in place to come out stronger than ever on the other side. It will not be easy. There will be those who continue to be impatient and demand immediate success. It will come with pain. But nothing since the inception of this organization has been more exhausting and agonizing than what we have had to endure in the recent history of this team.
We as a fan base have grown tired and, in many cases, apathetic. But we are strong. We are proud. We are Philadelphia Flyers fans, and Mr. Snider built us tough. We can handle the hard truths and obstacles that lie ahead on the path to resurrection.
The question is: can you?
A Concerned Flyers Fan
This item was written by a member of this community and is not necessarily endorsed by <em>Broad Street Hockey</em>.