Philadelphia Flyers president Keith Jones knows his team isn’t in the hunt for the Stanley Cup this season. Probably not the playoffs, either.
His goals for the Flyers aren’t quite that gaudy or optimistic, but they’re still important. Jones and Philadelphia Flyers general manager Daniel Briere have preached patience as the team regroups after missing the playoffs the past three seasons.
As a player, Jones was a sandpaper guy, not afraid to mix it up, get in an opponent’s way. Loved to have conversations with the opposition.
Just a difficult guy to play against.
That’s what Jones wants from the current Flyers.
“It’s a lot different than it was back in the ’70s, obviously, you’re not going to be beating everyone up,” Jones said.
“We want to be a team that appears like they want it more than the opposition. You want them to be a team when there’s a one-on-one puck battle that they find to win the majority of those.
“You want a team that plays hard in front of the opposition’s net, then plays really hard in front of their own, protecting their goaltender.”
Jones also talked about players standing up for each other. Hockey isn’t reverting to all-out, 12-player brawls anytime soon. But Jones wants the opposition to know they’re going to be in for a tough game against Philadelphia.
“They protect each other,” Jones said. “They’re a team that quickly responds to anything that needs to be dealt with.
“And there’s different ways you can respond. You can score a big goal right after when a guy takes an undisciplined penalty against you. You can grab the guy that inflicted pain on your teammate and inflict some of your own pain.
“You can throw a big check going the other way. There’s lots of different ways to do it but most importantly we want teams that come in to play the Philadelphia Flyers to know when they’re getting off their bus that it’s not going to be an easy night.
“And we’re going to make sure that we hold our players accountable to that.”
The current Flyers are in their longest playoff drought — three years — since the longest in franchise history, the five seasons from 1989-90 until 1993-94.
The Flyers made the playoffs for the first time with Lindros in 1994-95. He led the Flyers to the Eastern Conference finals and led the team in scoring with 70 points in the 48-game season. He also had 60 penalty minutes, one minute behind team leader Shawn Antoski.
Lindros, a future Hall of Famer, had obvious scoring skills. He also liked to throw his body around, delivering punishing checks. His teammates followed his lead and the Flyers played tough, hard-checking and physical hockey. There’s no Lindros on the Flyers now, but Jones wants the Flyers to play hard-nosed hockey, the kind that is appreciated in Philadelphia.
“Even when the Flyers were starting to build back around Lindros, it was always a difficult team to play against,” Jones said.
“They weren’t making the playoffs all the time at that point. They started to build towards that, but they were entertaining. So, you have to find ways to entertain and win.
“We’re not a team that’s going to be using the word ‘tank’ on any night.”