Say what you will about the Flyers’ General Manager Paul Holmgren. Criticize him for being soft spoken or question the moves that he’s made, but one thing is for certain— Homer has earned his paycheck this summer. Yes sir, no sitting on the sidelines and signing mediocre AHL players like last summer.
Nope, Homer seemed motivated, he seemed hungry, he seemed ALIVE. Giddy-up!
I know he’s taken a lot of heat recently, most of which in regards to the goaltending situation and for giving up too much for Pronger, but please, allow me to defend the man.
Because, wait for it— I like the moves. I do.
Now, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who liked ex-starting goalie Marty Biron more then me, but $5 million a season for him was a BIT ridiculous.
Actually a whole lot of bits.
A whole air craft carrier full of them.
There is NO way they should have paid him that much, because he wasn’t worth that much— hence why he is now a reserve for the ISLANDERS— and because it would have handcuffed the Flyers as they attempted to fix their real problem: team defense.
Instead they got TWO goalies for considerably less than Biron wanted. Unless, he was going to be his own back-up, this is a better deal.
Now to the goalies currently ON the roster.
As far as veteran back-ups go, there are few more consistent than Brian Boucher. He isn’t likely to threaten for the number one job, but he is more than capable of picking up the occasional spot start.
That’s just the kind of low pressure gig that may suit the Flyers new starter well.
Ray Emery has taken a lot of hits since coming to town, but the truth is that this guy took the Senators to the Stanley Cup finals not all that long ago. And he has had a solid career on the ice. It’s the off the ice stuff that gets him in trouble.
Fortunately, Homer has that covered.
Enter: Chris Pronger.
There really isn’t anyone in the league quite like him. Probably the closest thing to it is Boston’s Zdeno Chara, but even he lacks Pronger’s mean streak.
Pronger is a leader, a warrior, and will command respect from the entire locker room— Emery included.
Last year’s team desperately needed a guy like this, someone to motivate them and prevent them from falling into that every other game attitude that they seem to love so much.
The year before last, the Flyers had Jason Smith and Derian Hatcher to fill that role and they went to the Eastern Conference Finals before being sidetracked by injuries.
Last year, without either of those players, the Flyers were bounced in round one and seemed to be missing a rudder.
Pronger should fix all that because he has the tenacity of Hatcher, mixed with the leadership of Smith and a sprinkling of offensive prowess to boot.
Getting him on the team was a GREAT move. Sure they gave up a lot to get him, but they got a ton in return and it was exactly what they needed. A big, mean, rudder.
Don’t even start with that Jay Bouwmeester nonsense.
I’ll admit that I drank the Kool-Aid earlier in the summer, but let’s look at the facts here.
The Flyers already HAVE a Bouwmeester-type player in Braydon Coburn.
Sure Bouwmeester has more offense going for him now, but Coburn is bigger and has a ton of potential. And I’m not totally positive that Jay-Bo isn’t going to suffer badly next season from a case of raised expectations. It’s easy to perform in Florida when no one cares and the games don’t matter, but in Western Canada with a huge contract and the eyes of a nation on you? A place where even preseason games mean life or death?
Good luck Jay!
As for what the Flyers lost in the move? Well Mr. Inconsistency Joffrey Lupul is gone, no big surprise there. His salary cap hit was going to be unnecessarily high for the next several years.
Losing a promising young defenseman like Luca Sbisa is a shame, but Sbisa will never be the type of player Pronger is, and he certainly won’t come close to it next year.
The Flyers have a few good young d-men in their system and at the end of the day, losing Sbisa won’t break the club forever.
The draft picks are way too much of a dice roll— especially late in the first round where the Flyers tend to draft— to get that upset over. It would be nice to have them, but it’s better to have a player like Pronger, especially if he follows through on his plan to be more disciplined and avoid those costly suspensions.
The Flyers also signed winger/ center Ian Laperriere.
On the surface this seems confusing, especially considering the Flyers have Dan Carcillo, Arron Asham and Riley Cote already on the roster.
Laperriere seems like just another fighter right? Well, apparently he’s one of the more underrated penalty killers and defensive forwards in the league, at least according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi.
Having a guy who can eat up minutes on the PK should make the lives of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter a whole lot easier, especially seeing as though the consensus last season was that they were both worn down by the time the playoffs rolled around.
All that said, only time will tell whether or not Homer will get a gold star or a big sad face on his report card, but so far things look promising for the orange and black.
Offseason Grade: B