We all say how much we love the Flyers and I trust that most people do. But I ask the question, are we sometimes misguided in the way we portray that love? The Flyers are going through one of the worst seasons in recent memory and it’s become quite obvious to everyone watching the team, that there is a black cloud of negativity that seems to follow them around. However, I challenge us to ask ourselves would that black cloud be as persistent if we changed our attitudes towards handling the rocky moments that come into our hockey lives?
It is well documented that all living things require positive energy grow and thrive. Plants die when not given love and positive reinforcement. Children are often supported by their parents when struggle or facing the hardships of realities. When a lifelong significant other dies, it too often ends with the partner following suit due to not having the support of the other. I believe humans are connected in more ways than some of us are willing to admit. We can choose to ignore these patterns in our daily lives, but we all know that when these moments happen in life, our better instinct is to be as positive as possible. To be part of the change. To bring positivity, when there is clearly an imbalance of negativity.
In 2018 the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl and the city of Philadelphia was truly elated. Living in nirvana, the city thrived and for once, the City of Brotherly love lived up to its name. Shortly after the parades, the rioting, the singing, and “big d*ck Nick!” chants the city’s other Professional teams suddenly elevated their play as well. Both the Sixers and the Flyers were playing at their best and suddenly the city felt like a winning culture. The Flyers even managed to turn their whole season around and make the playoffs after having a 1% chance midway through. It could be coincidence, but it also could be the very same pattern that we’ve seen before.
The same thing that happens in the locker room during those tough moments or when a teacher reaches out to help a struggling student in their class. The same energy that has his teammates select Andrew MacDonald as their assistant captain (not coincidentally, in my opinion only for road games) when the Flyers fans loudly booed him during the home opener in 2017-18. That year Amac went on to have a career year and his best year with the Flyers with 6 goals, 15 assists, and +8 rating. It’s easy to sit back and criticize the team and certainly they deserve it, but they need the right kind of criticism. Treating the athlete like an abusive parent is never going to give us the kind of relationship with the team that all of us truly want.
Having said all that, I in no way blame a single fan for any of the issues the Flyers have had this year. I just simply don’t believe that they are helping to it, but only contributing to what Wayne Simmonds referred to as “quicksand”. If you want to see the team do well, criticize them in the same way you would to their face if they were in front of you. Say to them what you authentically feel about them knowing that you’ll have to see them again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.
Too often, I see people say outlandish things about athletes, dismissing the decades of hard work put up to get to the point where they are. It’s okay to demand a lot if you are giving a lot, but if you believe just because you’re a season ticket holder these athletes get paid, you’re kidding yourself. They will get paid somewhere by someone and you at least better hope that they’re begging to stay, not begging to leave. I’ve never seen a relationship thrive off of negativity only destroyed by them.
Remember, we’re the same team that threw away Eric Lindros, the 90’s version of Connor McDavid, after 9 concussions, calling him a “baby” on his way out. I was a kid, but I remember it very well. We’re the same city, that’s known to be a goalie’s graveyard. The same city calls Simmonds the heart of the team, but then begs to trade him when things don’t go our way. Hell, even Claude Giroux was on the table when he struggled after surgery. Two years later he was 2nd in the league in points behind Connor McDavid.
If Hextall failed at anything as General Manager, it was communication to the fans, what I truly consider to be the heart of the team, the city that supported it. It took Hextall’s firing for him to truly open up to us and tell us about his 6-year plan. If he would’ve given fans that information a while ago, they might’ve been far more patient with his process, far more patient with the youth. This city is begging to love its athletes and that much definitely shows.
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports