Some random thoughts on the Flyers as we get closer to the main training camp, which will have players on the ice starting Thursday:
The Philadelphia Flyers are planning a big celebration in late January to honor the 50-year anniversary of their first Stanley Cup championship. Earlier that month, the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association is also going to celebrate the achievement at its annual banquet.
Bravo to both organizations.
Yet, some fans are actually complaining that the Flyers look too much into the past and not enough into the future.
My response: Go watch another sport.
You can honor the past and look to the future at the same time. They are not related.
The 1973-74 Flyers, led by Bernie Parent and Bobby Clarke, erased the doom and gloom that permeated Philadelphia and its sports teams. Heading into that season, Philly was known as the City of Losers.
If you’re too young to remember, here’s a crash course on the Philadelphia sports scene before the Flyers’ epic 1973-74 season: The 76ers were coming off the most embarrassing season (9-73 record) in NBA history. The Eagles were trying to rebound from a 2-11-1 season, their fewest wins since 1940. The Phillies? They were headed to their third straight last-place finish.
So no one should feel they are shortchanging the future by saluting arguably the greatest accomplishment in Philadelphia sports history, an accomplishment that spread to the city’s other teams in the years that followed, an accomplishment that astounded the NHL because the Flyers were in just their seventh season of existence when they shocked the mighty Boston Bruins.
Director/writer Jeff Hare and I are working on a TV series on the Bullies, and I want to publicly thank the players for their time and accessibility.
Despite their fame, those guys are so unpretentious and down to earth. Maybe it’s because they became great communicators in the 1970s with their face-to-face interactions with the media — long before some players hid behind their social-media platforms.
Conversely, I tried a few times to interview a Flyers rookie (his name isn’t important) this summer who is going to battle for a spot on the team.
I’m still waiting for him to return the call through the team’s PR channels.
It should be pointed out that most of the current Flyers are great with the media, but I do see a growing trend of athletes in all sports — especially the younger players — who only want to make statements on social media.
That’s sad. That takes away from the fun of the lively give-and-take with the media that was there during the Bullies days — and still takes place in conversations with them today, especially when Joe “The Mouth That Roared” Watson is involved. (Is there a better storyteller who played in the NHL than Joe? I think not.)
Rookie camp is underway, and from here, right winger Tyson Foerster and defenseman Emil Andrae are the two youngsters with the best chance to make the big-league roster.
Unless he stumbles badly. Foerster looks like a lock.
“I know a lot of things can happen, but I’m not expecting him back in the Valley,” Lehigh Valley Phantoms coach Ian Laperriere said after rookie camp opened Thursday.
And don’t sleep on hard-working winger Elliot Desnoyers, who has a lot of people in the front office in his corner.
The Philadelphia Flyers need new blood. They need to show this rebuild is for real, so here’s hoping lots of rookies make the roster.
Brian Boucher was named Jim Jackson’s sidekick for Flyers TV broadcasts. Two words: Great hire.
Boosh was always a “tell it like it is” guy as a player and as a national broadcaster. He replaces Keith Jones, the Flyers’ new president and a man who also didn’t hide the truth during his broadcast career.
In a classy gesture, the Flyers will honor the late, great Jay Greenberg at some point this season, probably early in the year.
Jay Greenberg Press Row is a fitting tribute to a man who chronicled the team at the Bulletin and Daily News for numerous years, and later went into the Hockey Hall of Fame. No one had more passion or insight on the Flyers.
He was a “database of the Flyers,” Paul Holmgren, a former player, coach, general manager and president of the team, once said. “He knew stories inside the game.”