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Carchidi Column: Flyers Should Get a New Mascot for This Season

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Sean Couturier (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Veteran Sean Couturier, the Flyers' top-line center, is returning from two back surgeries and should help in all situations. Photo: Associated Press.

Gritty should be replaced by someone in a Rodney Dangerfield costume as the Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot.

At least for this season.

For those not old enough to remember the late, great Dangerfield, he was a perpetually sweating comedian who made a living mocking himself and telling people he got no respect.

He did it with bulging eyes as he nervously adjusted his (usually red) tie and used a handkerchief to wipe away the perspiration on his forehead.

A sample of his dialogue: “I get no respect at all.  When I was a kid, I lost my parents at the beach. I asked a lifeguard to help me find them. He said, ‘Don’t know, kid, there are so many places they could hide. ’ ”

The Flyers are like poor Rodney. Virtually everybody has written them off for the 2023-24 season.

Low Expectations

In Sportsnet’s summer rankings, the Flyers were 32nd out of 32 teams. The writer called it a “complete teardown.”

In NHL.com’s fantasy rankings, no Flyers were among the league’s top 100 players. In fact, Travis Konecny (No. 117) was the only Flyer in the top 200. Carter Hart, the Flyers’ best player, was ranked 29th among fantasy goalies — not because of his talent, but because the team isn’t expected to get a lot of wins, and his defense looks shakier than Trae Turner.

Sports gambling sites have also piled on. FanDuel, for instance, has the Flyers’ over/under for wins at 74.5. They had 75 points last year but are getting Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson back. FanDuel isn’t impressed.

Bottom line: Most respected hockey folks think the Flyers will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year. That would give them one playoff series win in the last 12 seasons.

Somewhere, Ed Snider, Keith Allen, and Fred Shero are shaking their heads and wondering what the heck happened to their once-adored franchise.

But hey, it’s the start of a rebuild, so it’s not exactly surprising that so many people think the Flyers are going to stink.

Maybe it will help them. There will be no pressure to perform. Opponents may overlook them.

Oh, and they could use all the negativity as motivation.

Show Some Love for Underdogs?

Maybe the fans will get ticked at the negativity and show the Flyers some love. That’s what happened with Gritty. When he was first introduced, he wasn’t exactly received very well. But then the national media took some shots at him (as did some opposing teams), and the fans raced to his rescue.

How dare you mock our mascot?

Philly fans have an ATTYTOOD, as the late Bill Lyon, the beloved Philadelphia Inquirer columnist, used to say. Only Philly can mock their own. If someone from the outside tries to do it, well, be prepared for a pushback.

Maybe that will happen this upcoming season with the Flyers.

Fans know the team isn’t going to be very good, know it will take at least three years before the Flyers are going to benefit from the patience of a rebuild.

From all the correspondence I’ve had with fans on social media, they are more than ready for a rebuild. Most believe it should have been done several years ago.

So better late than never, right?

“This city supports their teams when they give them something to support,” said Keith Jones, the Philadelphia Flyers’ new president of hockey operations. “That’s what we want to do here.”

In other words, support the rebuild. Support the Flyers as they try to lay the foundation for the future. Support and embrace the players, many of whom are young and inexperienced and will be gaining on-the-job training.

The oddsmakers and critics may be pushing a predictable narrative – that the Flyers are not going to win many games this season.

So what? That’s not the point of this season. The goal is to find players who have bright futures and start building some respect – and no longer have Rodney Dangerfield as the face of the franchise.

Sam Carchidi writes a weekly column for Philly Hockey Now. He and Jeff Hare are working on a TV series on the Flyers’ glory days, tentatively called Bullies: A Love Story. Carchidi can be reached at samcarchidi55@gmail.com.

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