Philly an Early Surprise

The start that Philadelphia has had this year is the start I had anticipated they would have had last year.

This year, with the additions of Baumgartner & Calder, and a full year of NHL action from youngsters Richards, Carter, Umberger, & Pitkanen, I had felt they were set-up to have an okay season. 

Bobby Clarke made some small slight adjustments to his lineup by getting a bit quicker and more agile with Baumgartner and Calder. 

He realized that in the new NHL, slow defenseman like Hatcher and Rathje are not a prized commodity.  They may have been the prototypical Flyer hockey type players of years gone by, but are certainly not going to be able to deliver a cup to their city any time soon.

Unfortunately for Bobby Clarke, Hatcher is locked up until 2009 and Rathje until 2010.  Both for $3.5m each year.  You could probably add Denis Gauthier to that list who is collecting $2.117 until 2009 as well.  Those are three of Bobby’s big mistakes that is going to take a long time to get cleaned up.

But the issues this year don’t relate solely to Bobby’s mistakes. 

Bob actually improved the team this year in line with what the new NHL demands.  He also got all his young RFA’s signed in time for training camp.  Clarke actually took some pot shots at Nonis for not getting Kesler signed sooner and make a bold move to get him into the Flyer organization as well.

What’s happening here is all about Ken Hitchcock.  What I’m not clear on is whether he simply has been unable to adjust significantly in the new NHL, or has just lost the room. 

I suspect it’s a bit of both.  There’s a reason that Nonis didn’t hire him this year despite going down an unorthodox path of asking the Flyers to interview their coach who was under contract with them.  But their lack of discipline or commitment to their systems has become so clear that there is no coming back from it with Hitch in charge.

Sitting at the bottom of the league after 2 weeks, Ed Snyder has already said that changes are coming.  In a week where they play only 2 games, there would be no better time to make it happen.

The Chief Canuck

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