The new 3-on-3 overtime format being used by the NHL this upcoming season is dramatically going to reduce the number of shootouts.
My idea to reduce them would be to eliminate the damn things. I’m so old-school. I like ties. I wear them.
That old-school mentality has been challenged as well by my hometown Philadelphia Flyers as they begin preparation for the 2015-16 campaign. New Head Coach Dave Hakstol takes the reins of a team forty years removed from their last Stanley Cup. The 47-year-old Hakstol comes to Philly after a wildly successful stint as head coach at the University of North Dakota, reaching the Frozen Four in seven of his eleven years. Definitely not an old-school hire like we’re used to seeing in the NHL…a guy who has already been a HC elsewhere in the League…maybe even more than one stop at that.
Dave inherits perhaps the league’s best winger, Jakub Voracek (resigned in the summer for 8 years, $66 million) as well as star center Claude Giroux (Captain) and winger Wayne Simmonds.
But the Flyers finished 14 points outside the playoffs last year. And they have not missed a Cup run in consecutive seasons since a period of five absences from 1989 to 1994. So there is an immediate sense of urgency for Hakstol to not only prove he can make the transition to coaching pro skaters but also skate the team back into the post-season.
Philadelphia actually has missed the playoffs two of the last three seasons. What they aren’t missing is fans. One thing that may have helped Hakstol in deciding to accept the HC job here is the supportive, patient to a fault fan base (including yours truly). The Flyers have sold over 16,000 seats for each game already. Philadelphia averaged 19,271 fans per home game last year which placed them fourth overall of the thirty NHL teams.
Again…a city forty years removed from their last Stanley Cup.
Based on input from those witnessing his practices now underway…welcome to “Camp Agony.” Dave has been working the boys very hard from all reports. That shows this writer Dave Hakstol has confidence in himself and also wants to establish a culture of competition from the jump.
(Independent Sports Blogger Dubsism knows more about college hockey than anyone I know and he released a podcast on Hakstol’s hiring which discusses Dave’s prospects for success at the NHL level…he also recently interviewed me about my history with the Flyers)
General Manager Ron Hextall has of course put his own future in play by not hiring a traditional type to steer the Flyers. Several pundits look for him to make an attempt for a major trade before the season gets well underway because the current roster looks very, very much like last season’s. They went 33-31-18 a year ago and if Ron thinks the same team can best that many believe he’s mistaken. There isn’t a lot of star-level talent…and even less depth.
The defense is the weakest part of this team in my view. Lots of prospects are in camp but potential doesn’t stop pucks. There are young bodies vying for playing time but it remains to be seen if any of them rise to the occasion. When your best defender is 38 years of age (Mark Streit) that’s an issue.
Steve Mason is fortunately a spectacular net minder and if he stays healthy they’re going to be in many games they otherwise wouldn’t be. Mason comes off the best season of his career. Not a single NHL goaltender posted a better 5-on-5 save percentage last season than Steve.
Bottom line – I think the Flyers will have a slippery skate trying to make the playoffs. If they do they’re out in Round One. A full year under Hakstol will hopefully make next season more memorable providing Philly also shores up two D’s between now and then…defense…and depth.