Sunday, January 28, 2007

What Went Wrong With The Flyers?

One goal of the current NHL CBA is parity. It is very hard to keep a successful team together. The salary cap prevents you from giving the necessary raises to all your players and the liberalized free agency allows players to leave when they are in the primes of their careers. This makes it very hard for there to be any elite teams (probably there are none this year although Anaheim might be one). Bad teams are not supposed to be able to stay bad because of the extra players available as free agents and because they have a salary floor that forces them to buy them.

In practise, this is much more successful at keeping elite teams from being formed then it is from keeping bad teams from existence. Many teams will pay their players near the salary cap at the beginning of the season and then have essentially "locked in" their roster for the year. It is very hard to make changes when you cannot add any salary. If one of these "locked in" teams is a bad one it is hard to make changes.

Philadelphia finds themselves in this situation this year as a bad team. They were not expected to do poorly (I picked them to win the Atlantic Division); however, lots of things went wrong.

Peter Forsberg is known to be an injury risk, but he is also expected to be a dominant player for the part of the season. I don't think anyone expected that he would be limited to 8 goals at all star break. The Flyers have several young sophomore talents expected to play a bigger role including Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Antero Niittymaki, but none have. They have a couple aging slow defencemen in Derian Hatcher and Mike Rathje, who were both expected to play reliable minutes anchoring the defence. I think nobody expected they would only have an assist each. Several forwards that were expected to provide depth like Kyle Calder and Petr Nedved have failed. It is a reasonable statement that nobody on the team has been able to exceed expectations this season (and at least a couple people due on any team just about any year). To make matters worse, the Flyers panicked early and fired Ken Hitchcock who is a very good coach and replaced him with John Stevens, who seems to be unable to get any success from this Flyer team.

What can the Flyers do? At this point, all they can do is sell off players and wait for next year.

This Flyers team has been bad. They have only managed to collect 26% of the points in the games that they have played (for comparison the first place team in Nashville has collected 68% of points in their games). Philadelphia is far worse than average than any team in the league above average. This CBA has the effect of getting rid of the really good teams, without getting rid of the really bad. That is the worst of both worlds. The fans do not get to see the best anymore, but they still get to see the worst. There is no way to legislate out stupidity and bad luck. There is no way to prevent bad teams, but good teams have been successfully limited.

Geeze, is hockey still being played? I thought they went on strike and never came back. I live in a US city with 3 million people and there is no mention of hockey in the local paper. I mean n-o-n-e.

Oh well, who really cares about hockey anyway.

Say, didja hear the Super Bowl's coming up?
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