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16 reasons why the 2011-12 Philadelphia Flyers season was great


Guest Irishjim
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by

Travis Hughes

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May 9, 2012 9:01 AM EDT

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Yet again, the

Philadelphia Flyers season has come to an unfortunate end. It's 37 years and counting since our last parade down Broad Street, but that doesn't mean this year was a complete failure. It was a ridiculously entertaining season full of old memories, new memories, hope for the future and appreciation for the past.

Some seasons come and go with little fanfare. This one? Not even close. Let's think back on 16 reasons, in no particular order, why this Flyers season was one we'll remember for a long, long time.

1. We watched

Claude Giroux emerge into a superstar before our eyes. Peter Laviolette calls him the Best Player In The World, and while that may be up for debate, there's not in single doubt in anybody's mind that he's in the conversation. He was in the running for the scoring title all season, and I'm convinced he'll have at least one of those under his belt in the next few seasons. Oh, and he's only 24 years old.

2. For all his faults,

Ilya Bryzgalov is one funny mother effer. And for all the jokes, he is still a very good goaltender and he has what it takes to be the elite goaltender we've always wanted.

3.

Scott Hartnell brushed aside a rough start -- and frankly, a pretty rough couple of seasons -- to become not only a fan favorite in Philadelphia, but genuinely loved around the NHL by fans in just about every city.

4. We won the Battle of Pennsylvania.

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5. The joy of Jaromir Jagr. Not only did he choose Philadelphia, but he was at times still the brilliant Hall of Famer that has graced this sport for so many years. The reputation that preceded him as a primadonna superstar turned out to be a giant lie, and his work ethic, genuine love for the game and infectious attitude made him an absolute pleasure to cheer for this season. We can only hope for the chance to do it again.

6. <a class="sbn-auto-link" href="

http://www.sbnation.com/nhl/players/71960/brayden-schenn" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; border-top-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; border-image: initial; outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; color: rgb(190, 61, 18); text-decoration: none; font-weight: bold; ">Brayden Schenn's future. He battled injuries all season long, but when he was able to get things going, Schenn showed off his elite potential. He's the definition of an all-around player, and he has plenty of time for his skills to evolve.

7.

Sean Couturier's future. The best defensive forward on the team is still just 19 years old, and remember, he scored a whoooole lot of points in junior. Coots has the ability to be an unreal two-way player, and there's no reason to expect he won't. He's 19 years old. 19. Years. Old.

8.

Matt Read's future. He had his doubters at the start of the season -- *raises hand* -- and it's rare that a kid his age makes his NHL debut with such an impact. But Read did, and he was a vital piece in one of the NHL's most dangerous offensive units this season. He scored 24 goals as a rookie, and he's ours for at least two more years. Probably longer.

9. We got to watch another year of

Kimmo Timonen. The man is truly a specimen, and while many of us do appreciate him for the phenomenal hockey player he is, we should really sit back and think about howphenomenal he is. He eats minutes, he blocks shots, he leads quietly (and vocally when he must) and he's just an all-around great hockey player. We're not going to get much more of this guy -- as he said after Game 5, "Well personally, I'm running out of time to be honest" -- so let's enjoy him while he's here.

10. Paul Holmgren's massive balls. Yeah, I still love

Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Yeah, I still think that the crazy overhaul last summer was unnecessary, but man. It's tough not to appreciate somebody with the cojones to make a decision like he did last summer. Maybe he had a mandate from higher up, but regardless, if you're going to trade the two cornerstones of your franchise, you can only hope to do it with as much success as Holmgren did it this season.

11. Peter Laviolette is just a great dude. If we learned one single thing on HBO 24/7 this season, it was this. It's not like we got a ton of tactical insight into his ability as a coach during the show, but we got a hell of a glimpse into his personality. I don't know about you, but if I played for him, he'd make me want to run through a brick wall.

12. The Winter Classic came to Philadelphia. Not all of us got to attend, but all of us did get to enjoy the event. For a weekend at the turn of the year, our city was the center of the hockey universe, and despite an unfortunate sideshow that grabbed headlines and added another round of ammo to the ever-persistent Philly hatred around the country, I think it's safe to say that we put on a solid showcase of this awesome sport.

13. The best Alumni Game we could have asked for. We got to watch Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber and Reggie Leach skate on a line together again. We saw John LeClair hook up with Eric Lindros for a goal. We watched Bernie Parent make a save. We watched

Mark Recchi wear orange and black again. We saw countless other heroes come back and play for the Flyers. They won the game, too.

14. Mark Howe's jersey retirement. Howe is one of the greatest defensemen to ever play for the Flyers. He's a Hall of Famer, and he'll live forever in history as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. He deserves it.

15. Eric Lindros is a Flyer again. The Alumni Game was great, but the real beauty of the entire Winter Classic experience was Lindros' integral part in it all. He was welcomed by the fans, welcomed by the organization and he even skated with the team at practice late in the regular season. Lindros is one of the greatest players to ever pull on a Flyers sweater, and he was gone for far too long. Welcome home, 88.

16. The future is bright. There are many changes that will come -- namely on defense, which all hinges on the scary uncertainty surrounding

Chris Pronger -- but this team had more rookies on its roster than any other in the league. They will be a threat in the Eastern Conference next season and for what seems like many years to come. There is reason to be happy, and there's plenty of reason to be proud to have cheered for this team all year.

This isn't by any means a complete list. Feel free to add your reasons in the comments.

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17. We didn't gut the team for Stamkos. 18. There is 1 year left on Shelley's contract. 18a. There is 1 year left on Lilja's contract. 19. "Suck it, Phaneuf." 20. Ruining Boston's 4-hour-long Cup "celebration" in October. 21. #hartnelldown became a real thing.

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I would really like to see a defensive overhaul (maybe a poor term) and recommitment to youth similar to how our forwards were done in the offseason. I'd love to see one more puck mover and then just a bunch of d-men that just block shots and take the body all day long.

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I would expect Homer to address the D, he sees what we see. We'll be discussing that in excruciating detail, I'm sure.

Management knows they have a tremendous opportunity with so much young talent at forward, and like it or not Bryz is the goalie again next year, so they have to know that a crease-clearer and another heavy point shot will benefit the kids and the goalie to a point where we can seriously discuss the Flyboys as a favorite to come out of the East...presuming of course that they learn to man up when a team smacks them in the mouth and go win some goddam battles along the boards.

At least OVERconfidence shouldn't be a problem next year, that lesson will rattle around in their heads all summer.

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@Irishjim

"He scored 24 goals as a rookie, and he's ours for at least two more years. Probably longer."

I had not realized that due to his older age that his RFA period is null an void (ie. because of his age I believe). Kind of a bummer. I kind of miss the days when you could renegotiate a contract. He is one person that deserves renegotiation (as does perhaps giroux). Read only makes 900k (and that includes his signing bonus of $600k that is paid out of this year and next year).

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@Vanflyer

I had not realized that due to his older age that his RFA period is null an void (ie. because of his age I believe). Kind of a bummer. I kind of miss the days when you could renegotiate a contract. He is one person that deserves renegotiation (as does perhaps giroux). Read only makes 900k (and that includes his signing bonus of $600k that is paid out of this year and next year).

Read is on the same entry level contract that basically every new player starts with. According to cap geek....Read doesn't have any extra bonuses. I guess I'm not fully getting your point here. Read is under contract for two more years which will put him at 27. Isn't age 27 the age other players reach FA? And why do you think Giroux needs another new contract? He just signed a 3 year deal last year after his entry level contract expired.

The Cap doesn't allow to pay every player on the roster 5+M.

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@hf101

"Read is on the same entry level contract that basically every new player starts with. According to cap geek....Read doesn't have any extra bonuses. I guess I'm not fully getting your point here. Read is under contract for two more years which will put him at 27. Isn't age 27 the age other players reach FA? And why do you think Giroux needs another new contract? He just signed a 3 year deal last year after his entry level contract expired.

The Cap doesn't allow to pay every player on the roster 5+M."

1) I didn't know what the threshold for UFA, but that is what I was alluding to in "due to his age".

2) Read does actually have a signing bonus. If you click on his name in capgeek, you see the salary breakdown. He makes 1.075m this year and then 1.275 next year, and 1m in his final year. But if Read puts up another year like this year, he is significantly under paid.

3) Giroux- Kind of the same as Read. Yes he signed his contract, yet if he puts up another year like this year, he is going to be significantly underpaid.

In regards to renegotiation, what I was inferring was the ability to renegotiate current contract plus extension. The point being is that you can make a preemptive strike on the under-compensation PLUS extend the contract.

If Giroux plays the same way the next two years as he did this year, back the money truck up to resign him (though he is RFA). Same kind of applies to read, but with less money.

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@Vanflyer

2) Read does actually have a signing bonus. If you click on his name in capgeek, you see the salary breakdown. He makes 1.075m this year and then 1.275 next year, and 1m in his final year. But if Read puts up another year like this year, he is significantly under paid.

yes. so that looks as if the entry level signing bonus is not a part of the salary cap. Well I think for one Read signed the 3 year deal because he wanted the security of having a 3 year nhl contract. According to the cba he only needed to sign a 1yr deal at the age of 24. So maybe he is under paid some, but on the other hand he is receiving guaranteed money.

In regards to renegotiation, what I was inferring was the ability to renegotiate current contract plus extension. The point being is that you can make a preemptive strike on the under-compensation PLUS extend the contract.

On the other hand if you were to renegotiate to make more money then the opposite would need to take place also and that is to remove salary from its less performing players. I don't think you can have one without the other.

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@hf101

Good points. So in the end, under a cap world, the only option is to work on the extension sooner rather than later for players that are significantly underpaid. Give Giroux and Read an additional year and then push hard on their extensions.

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2. For all his faults, Ilya Bryzgalov is one funny mother effer. And for all the jokes, he is still a very good goaltender and he has what it takes to be the elite goaltender we've always wanted.

This writer should really knock off the bong hits for awhile, let reality creep back into his world before he writes more dumbshit like this.

Bryzgalov is not in the least bit funny (or witty or entertaining) to me but I can see how some people might like his schitk. Let him go host The Family Feud or something because he sure sucks at his day job.

Imagine how great the season would've been if the Flyers didn't need 5 fkng goals every night to win hockey games. (I know it's not all on Bryzgalov - but a lot of it sure is)

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I agree with a lot of them. Honestly after all the moves were made in the offseason if a crystal ball told you the team would finish with over 100 points and beat the Pens (with Crosby) in the playoffs I would have been happy. I did not expect the team to win the Cup this season as I did not think the defense was good enough even if Pronger was healthy.

The highlights to me was watching Giroux become the best player in the league even if the media still salivated when Crosby took the ice. Watching Simmonds develop. When the trades were made I said fans would love Simmonds as he was a poster child for Flyer hockey and would score 25 goals. Seeing the young players not only play but develop and flourish. Seeing 88 back in a Flyers uniform. I loved the reception as it was deafening at the Winter Classic and see him and Johnny hook up on a beautiful Legion of Doom type play was incredible to see.

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