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Snider optimistic about Flyers' direction


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For Ed Snider, founder of the Flyers, this offseason has a different feel than last year.

Even though the Flyers were eliminated in the second round for the second straight season, Snider is much more optimistic about the team’s direction.

“To me, every year we want to win the Cup, so if we don’t win the Cup, it’s an unsuccessful year,” said Snider in a phone interview Tuesday from his mansion in Santa Barbara, Calif., just prior to playing in a tennis match. “Having said that, I’m really, really happy with an awful lot that happened during the course of season and even in the playoffs.”

Snider praised the deals that sent Mike Richards and Jeff Carter packing, said he loved the Flyers’ young nucleus, and added he thought the team would have won the Cup if defensemen Chris Pronger and Andrej Meszaros had been healthy. He hinted that the Flyers would make a move for a defenseman (Nashville free-agent Ryan Suter?) and said goalie Ilya Bryzgalov “wasn’t prepared for Philadelphia fans” but that “without question” he was happy he signed him.

The Flyers played 12 rookies during the season, including seven in the playoffs. Sean Couturier, Matt Read, Brayden Schenn and Marc-Andre Bourdon were among the top rookies.

“Having all these young players – and the fact the coach gave them important roles to play under pressure – was invaluable for their future and our future,” said Snider, 79, chairman of the Flyers’ parent company, Comcast-Spectacor.

Snider predicted Couturier, 19, would be a “future star. We saw how well he can play defensively, but he’s really noted for his offensive skills, too. So when he gets more ice time and a more important role than just playing defense, I think we’re going to see a guy that is going to be right behind (Claude) Giroux, as far as our young players are concerned.”

A year ago, a frustrated Snider said he would “never again” go through another goalie-carousel season, and the Flyers signed Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million deal.

Asked to evaluate Bryzgalov’s season, Snider called it a “mixed bag. It went from shaky at times to spectacular at tikes. The Bryz we saw in March” – the goalie was named the league’s player of the month – “I hope will be the Bryz that we see consistently in the future. I think he wasn’t prepared for Philadelphia fans and the microscope that he’s under. I think we’re tougher on goalies maybe than any other team in the league. I think our fans are frustrated, and rightfully so, for the goaltending carousel that we’ve had through the years. It’s the problem of management, not of Bryzgalov. We blew it and we created the situation (in the past). I watch the playoffs and regular season games, and ALL goalies let in bad goals, but when a goalie in Philadelphia lets in a bad goal, it’s like a disaster.

“Look at the playoffs two years ago when we played New Jersey. (Marty) Brodeur looked like he was through. And we beat New Jersey in five games, and even the games we played against New Jersey this year, Brodeur looked shaky at times, but he was good enough to win. In Philly, if that would happen, they would be booing our goalie even if we were ahead. And it’s tough. I would hope they will be more patient with the goalie, but like I said, the frustration isn’t the cause of their fault; it’s our fault for what we’ve created. Then Bryzgalov stepped into that. I don’t think he was prepared for it, and he’s a very sensitive kid. Even though he jokes around, he’s extremely sensitive and it affected him. But you can see how he can play. He was voted the best player in the league in March, and it’s a great accomplishment.”

The high-scoring opening round against the Penguins had a negative effect on the team, Snider said.

“I thought the Pittsburgh series was one of wildest I’ve ever seen, but by the same token, I don’t think it prepared us very well for New Jersey,” said Snider, whose Flyers lost in the conference semifinals, four games to one, to the Devils. “It was a wide-open series against Pittsburgh, and I think our kids maybe thought it would be wide open (against New Jersey) and weren’t prepared to play the way you have to play in the playoffs. I don’t blame that on the coach at all. We’re talking about young players under pressure that just couldn’t handle it. I don’t think it’s a terrible thing. I think it’s a learning experience, so I think it’s a good plus for the future, also.

“We had tremendous success with all the young players and I’m very excited about the future of our team.”

As for offseason moves, Snider said “you can’t replace a Pronger, but maybe you can make some moves that help offset the loss of Pronger.” He said he believed GM Paul Holmgren “has to focus on the defense first.”

Snider noted that Holmgren had already made one move in that direction by acquiring Nick Grossmann late in the season, and he said he hoped the Flyers could resign Matt Carle, a prospective free agent.

Snider said he was happy for Richards and Carter, whose Kings open the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday in New Jersey, and “I hope they win the Cup. They’re nice guys. They did a lot of great things for us, but they’re part of the puzzle over there. They would have made no difference as far as I’m concerned as far as what we did this year. We got great value in return, and I don’t think we would have gone any further with Richards and Carter. They’re part of a mix in L.A. and they don’t have the kind of pressure they had on them here. I think that’s good for L.A. and it’s good for us, because I’m very happy with what we got in return.”

Snider, though disappointed the Flyers haven’t won a Cup since 1975, said he “would like to feel we’re giving the fans a return on their investment by the fact in the last three years we’ve been to the Finals once and been to the second round twice. It’s a pretty good accomplishment. It’s not our goal and it certainly doesn’t satisfy me, but I feel we’re always in the hunt and always doing everything we can to win the Cup.

“Unfortunately, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. The competition is doing the exact same thing, and they either do it better than us, or they get through the season without injuries to their key players. It’s a difficult thing. I honestly think if Pronger and Meszaros had been healthy in the playoffs, we would have won the whole thing. I don’t like to cry about injuries, buy you just can’t lose a Pronger and replace him. And then on top of that, you lose Meszaros and Bourdon” and have Kimmo Timonen, Carle and Grossmann banged up during the post-season.

- Sam Carchidi

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/flyers/Snider-optimistic-about-Flyers-direction.html

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I honestly don't think the "Philly Fans" were the main problem with Bryzgalov. I think the vastly larger amount of media attention coupled with the spotlght of HBO 24/7 was an obvious distraction for him throughout the middle part of the season.

Bryz did start off 3-0 with wins over both 2011 Cup Finalists and a shutout of the New Jersey Devils.

Despite the vitriol on this board and others (vitriol which, believe it or not, I have participated in on occasion) - I didn't see "the fans" turning on Bryzgalov at the actual games. There may not have been outright "support" but there wasn't anywhere near the level of booing and shouting one might have expected given my fellow Philadelphians' reputations. I certainly don't remember much "booing while ahead" in the half dozen or so times I made it to the Center this season.

The sniping at and joyful celebration of Bryz's "wacky" personality in the media - NBC's intermission flapping head invariably calling him "Mr. Universe" in the second round of the playoffs comes to mind (more than four months after the HBO quote) - IMO exascerbated Bryz's inconsistent play (3-0, 0-4-1, 11-1-1, 7-8-4, 7-0, 4-3-1 (GAA and SV% even more wild)). The media even filed a grievance when they weren't allowed to poke Bryz.

And he really did better after "the talk" with Briere and others and basically shut up. He learned an important thing - the media is not "your friend".

Snider clearly indicates that Bryz is going to be here next season and we can all just hope we get more "March Bryz" and less "December Bryz".

The injuries are a completely acceptable reason that the Flyers lost. To pretend there was no impact of losing two of your top four defensemen - and the banged up nature of the others who had to play those lost minutes - is to ignore the realities of the game of hockey.

What I completely agree with Snider on is that the Flyers are positioned to do very well on a consistent basis going forward. They got younger, better and cheaper and have a solid group of guys who have now had their playoff disappointment together and can develop as a group.

To think that they are going to have a defense of Timonen-Meszaros-Grossmann-Coburn-Carle-Suter-Lilja (Pronger LTIR) is, IMO ridiculous.

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To think that they are going to have a defense of Timonen-Meszaros-Grossmann-Coburn-Carle-Suter-Lilja (Pronger LTIR) is, IMO ridiculous.

Snider made only one comment that surprised me: that he felt the team had a pretty good season. I believe he's usually a bit more had core in public when it comes to having his annual expectations met.

Also, he doesn't sound like he's desperate enough to sign Suter for $6.5-$7MM per season. I've been wrong before but I don't think they will view the cost/benefit of his contract favorably. I think they would sooner pay Carle over $5MM and find another top 4 defenseman elsewhere to help wind down Timonen's non PP minutes.

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Also, he doesn't sound like he's desperate enough to sign Suter for $6.5-$7MM per season. I've been wrong before but I don't think they will view the cost/benefit of his contract favorably.

I agree. Ryan Suter is not overly impressive to me. He's nowhere near in the same category as a Pronger or a Weber. He's not a super-smart defender like Lidstrom. He's not a wailing dervish hitter like Phaneuf - though sometimes he tries to be (often turning himself into a liability in the process). He doesn't play a meanbastard game like Orpik does sometimes, or a guy like the Mule does all the time. He can hit, no doubt, and he's got a good shot. He's a pretty good puck-mover and he's not shy about joining the rush, which Lavy will like. Basically I see him as a Meszaros type, not a whole lot better.

I just don't see a huge increase in our defensive posture with Ryan Suter aboard. For my money he costs too much for what he'll bring to the Flyers.

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Yikes. If that's the asking price, then neither am I.

I think it is a good example of a guy hitting the market at the right time. He's a very good player but I can't see how he is worth that kind of cash.

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I agree. Ryan Suter is not overly impressive to me. He's nowhere near in the same category as a Pronger or a Weber. He's not a super-smart defender like Lidstrom. He's not a wailing dervish hitter like Phaneuf - though sometimes he tries to be (often turning himself into a liability in the process). He doesn't play a meanbastard game like Orpik does sometimes, or a guy like the Mule does all the time. He can hit, no doubt, and he's got a good shot. He's a pretty good puck-mover and he's not shy about joining the rush, which Lavy will like. Basically I see him as a Meszaros type, not a whole lot better.

I just don't see a huge increase in our defensive posture with Ryan Suter aboard. For my money he costs too much for what he'll bring to the Flyers.

I'd rather Holmgren kick tires with Poile in Nashville regarding the availability of Shea Weber than sign Suter to a long contract. With Lidstrom set to retire it wouldn't surprise me seeing the Red Wings make a big push for Suter and maybe even Parise [since both are good friends]. I think Holmgren has to fix the defensive core this coming summer and it would be nice to see Weber in a Flyers uniform.

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I can't believe Poile is going to move his franchise player after the year they had - unless Mr. Weber is saying "I want out" in no uncertain terms.

If Weber hits FA the bidding war will be intense...

Next year would suit the Flyers better with Kimmo and possibly Hartnell coming off the books... we'll have $$ to compete for Weber. This summer, unless we shed some serious salary - move Briere or Kimmo, Coburn or Harts (if any of them are willing to waive their NTC/NMC) - maybe JVR - I doubt we'll stay in the running very long.

Coburn is vastly underrated around here and I'd hate to lose him to get Weber. Weber is the better player but Coburn is an important part of our D corps. He would be a big loss imo. His salary is manageable and he's young, definitely has untapped potential (offensively). Weber would be awesome but I hope we don't cut off our nose to spite our face going after him.

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I can't believe Poile is going to move his franchise player after the year they had - unless Mr. Weber is saying "I want out" in no uncertain terms.

If Weber hits FA the bidding war will be intense...

Next year would suit the Flyers better with Kimmo and possibly Hartnell coming off the books... we'll have $$ to compete for Weber. This summer, unless we shed some serious salary - move Briere or Kimmo, Coburn or Harts (if any of them are willing to waive their NTC/NMC) - maybe JVR - I doubt we'll stay in the running very long.

Coburn is vastly underrated around here and I'd hate to lose him to get Weber. Weber is the better player but Coburn is an important part of our D corps. He would be a big loss imo. His salary is manageable and he's young, definitely has untapped potential (offensively). Weber would be awesome but I hope we don't cut off our nose to spite our face going after him.

They made the choice to go with Coburn over Carle. He has value, but at this point is likely undervalued for his position. Coburn IMO did the "hometown discount" to win with the Flyers.

Nashville has the money and cap space to lock up Weber. I do NOT think they should mortgage the farm on Suter.

In fact, Nashville can keep both - easily - if they want to and can convince both that this is a place they can win.

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They made the choice to go with Coburn over Carle.

Well it's not settled yet, right? Carle could be re-signed at some point, even after FA opens. I doubt Carle gets bombarded by offers and the longer he goes unsigned the better the Flyers may look to him.

I wouldn't mind a bit if he's back in the O&B. I like what he brings. I just wish for once we could go an entire season without losing one of our top 4 D-men to an extended injury - one that keeps him out of the POs (or just getting back to game shape when the POs roll around).

We get Mez, Grossmann and MAB healthy - along with Kimmo, Coby and Carle - we're not looking too bad on D. Imho.

Edited by canoli
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@Dynamo 47

Ya, Suter would be a nice piece, but he isn't going to put us over he top. And with Lidstrom retiring, I see Detroit going after Suter hard. Weber is exactly what we need on the backend.

If you were a Nashville fan and saw BOTH Suter AND Weber leave after your deepest run into the playoffs ever, what wold yo do as a fanbase?

There is no way Nashville loses both unless we're gong to be relegating them to the AHL in the near future...

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