2015-16 Philadelphia Flyers Season Preview – Another Year Of Waiting Awaits

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.

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About sportsattitudes

I'm Bruce. Born, raised and still outside the City of Brotherly Love. Managed (so far) to visit a dozen of our United States and Canada (twice). Addicted from birth to Television/Movies/Sports. Took three years of French and got credit for two of 'em.
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9 Responses to 2015-16 Philadelphia Flyers Season Preview – Another Year Of Waiting Awaits

  1. SportsChump says:

    Here’s hoping the road to the Stanley Cup Finals goes through Tampa Bay.

    We should be pretty stout again this year. Already have my tickets for opening night.

    The town is waiting with bated breath to see what happens with the Stammer contract.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That contract will get hammered out for Stammer and the Lightning indeed look to be one of the legit teams in the chase for the Cup.

    Like

  3. J-Dub says:

    Thanks for mentioning the podcast where I talked about Hakstol and his hiring in Philadelphia. Here’s a couple of key points to know for Flyer fans.

    1) Hakstol had one of the prime jobs in college hockey for almost 15 years. The University of North Dakota is like the New York Yankees of college hockey. 7 national championships, and 15 conference titles. Regardless of the sport, that’s a prime time job.

    2) The reason why Hakstol was willing to leave is that he never won a national championship in that time. The support for him amongst ND fan base was eroding due tio that fact, and the common speculation is that Hakstol was looking to move on because of that.

    3) One of the major reasons for Hakstol’s failure to capture the big prize in college hockey was the fact the the old Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) was like Big Ten basketball in the 1980’s. Big Ten teams could beat the shit out of each other, but once they got into tournaments where they didn’t have “no autopsy, no foul” referees, they got hosed on the physical calls. North Dakota suffered the same fate in college hockey, but that shouldn’t be a problem in the NHL where rules are consistent; there aren’t different conferences with different rules to worry about.

    4) Hakstol’s style of coaching may work very well in the MHL. As a player, Hakstol was a defenseman who led the team in penalty minutes., It is also very telling that his long-time assistant head coach figures prominently in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G-FTg419NM The guy who starts in tthis melee and the guy who comes running back out of the tunnel to dive into the Wisconsin bench is a guy named Cary Eades, Eades was Hakstol’s right-hand man for close to ten years.

    5) Regardless of NHL or college, a Hakstol-led team is going to be physical. It’s not going to be a good idea to hang around in front of the Flyer net with a Hakstol team. He may not have the personnel at first for that, but he will shortly.

    6) The reason why Hasktol is behind the Flyer bench i s all about General Manager Ron Hextall. Flyer fans remember Ron Hextall as a guy who loved the physical aspect of the game. Here’s a goalie who accounted for more groin injuries than the turf at Veterans Stadium. So when he was looking for a place for his son Brettt learn to play hockey at the college level, where did he send him? To Dave Hakstol, and the University of North Dakota.

    7) Is it really that hard to imagine Ron Hextall putting together a team which could rival the “Broad Street Bullies?” Hakstol is the perfect coach for that approach.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Dubs. You know the local media and current pre-season play hints at a physical playing style and perhaps we haven’t seen it full-blown yet as you suggest because the personnel isn’t here or developed. It does explain all the in-house hitting and conditioning. Surprised he was losing support in ND just because they didn’t run the table…then again hockey is deadly serious biz there. We know patience is not a virtue in sports anymore. Owner Ed Snider has a rep as a “Win Now” guy because he turns over rosters…with the wrong players. Now…the players remain and the Head Coach type was overhauled. Time will tell.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. 1) Once the Flyers wait out Andy Mac, Vinny, and Umberger then Hextall can really start to make moves. He’s in a tough spot right now because other teams know we want to move them and will inflate trade value to squeeze what they want out of the Flyers

    2) It’s not wholly unrealistic that Stamkos could leave Tampa Bay. Based on rising market values (Kane & Toews setting the bar), Stamkos could potentially price himself right out of town if he doesn’t make some concessions.

    Anyway, thanks for liking my post on the Flyers! Check out our website (broadstreetbully.net). Let’s set up a Flyers fan network of sorts!?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff, thank you for stopping by. I do agree Hexy has some decisions to make and will be at a likely disadvantage moving pieces anyway but move he must. The Flyers spent so much time standing in place this off-season he’s going to pick up the pace now. Love the website. Flyers fans who quote Psychology Today are people I can relate to! I obviously go way back with the Flyers as well as you guys do!

      Like

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