Reliving the past to understand the new Flyers front office direction

Paul Holmgren has stepped down from the role of Philadelphia Flyers Team President to take on the role of Senior Advisor to Dave Scott and Chuck Fletcher. This makes Holmgren the only person in Flyers history to be a player, assistant coach, head coach, general manager, and president in the organization. Now, answering to Fletcher who is the President of Hockey Operations along with being General Manager, Holmgren will still have some say on the product, but not the final say. A large majority of the Philadelphia fanbase may rejoice at that idea, but let’s take a step back and really take in the highs and lows of Holmgren.

Paul Holmgren steps down as Flyers Team President

Reliving Paul Holmgren, it is fair to point out that he has pulled off many good deals on the throne of the front office. To dive into those examples, I would begin with his eye for finding players that don’t stick out like a sore thumb. What I mean is that Holmgren constructed a couple of playoff teams with players that not many of Philadelphia Flyers fans were familiar with up front. Players such as Ville Leino, Matt Read, Sergei Bobrovsky, Wayne Simmonds, and Braydon Coburn were all acquired under Holmgren’s watch and provided a real spark to the Flyers teams they played on. When Holmgren was on, he understood the construction of a contract for a good role player and how to fleece a team with a prospect for another team’s bench player.

However, for all the good that Paul Holmgren did sitting in the throne of the Philadelphia Flyers front office, he also left many fans scratching their heads plenty of times. While Holmgren knew how to offer a good deal to a fine role player, there are multiple times he would either overpay to keep a player around that was a “one hit wonder” or not sign a player back who he should have. The glaring example of a player that should have received the money was Sergei Bobrovsky. To this day, I think the Philadelphia Flyers could have absolutely been a more serious threat for a Stanley Cup if they had the stability that Bobrovsky offered versus fluttering between a bevy of goalies since Ilya Bryzgalov.

It’s important to understand the good and bad from a previous front office leader to another. Currently, Chuck Fletcher seems like someone who has a firm plan on what he wants to do with this team and the people he wants to surround himself in the front office. The last team to have this kind of shakeup with an outside coach coming in and getting this kind of power shift was with Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles. Yes, I know, that leaves a sour taste in the mouth of any Philadelphia fan. However, Fletcher isn’t coming from the college ranks as Dave Hakstol did. He has already established himself with the Minnesota Wild.

Current Flyers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager, Chuck Fletcher

Chuck Fletcher is kind of a highlight for the Minnesota Wild and the build of that team. Under his watch, the Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Since that move in 2012, Minnesota hasn’t missed the playoffs. That’s more than what the Philadelphia Flyers can say already. He also keeps a keen eye on drafting and prospects around the league, navigating his way to landing Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, and Jason Zucker. All of those players have had an impact on the growth of the Wild.

Where Paul Holmgren would get you in trouble with attaching wild contracts to players that sometimes don’t make sense, Chuck Fletcher can be ice cold on trades. One of these glaring examples is when Fletcher traded Nick Leddy and Kim Johnsson for Cam Barker. Leddy was pivotal in the Chicago Blackhawks winning three Stanley Cups and Barker was waived from the Minnesota Wild in the same season. Sometimes, Fletcher seems to overthink package trades, such as when he traded Jason Pominville for Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno. Pominville was still a highly productive member of the Wild that Fletcher paid a hefty price to get, only to turn him over in a trade.

After watching the Philadelphia Flyers not get over the hump and change nary a thing on the roster of a few seasons now, we as fans are excited to see what the Chuck Fletcher era has to offer. I do hope the front office has patience with prospects being developed in the American Hockey League or players on two-way contracts with the National Hockey League, but I believe that Fletcher can strengthen the Flyers. Philadelphia now has a true, young starting goalie in Carter Hart who is being backed up by great value, veteran goalie in Brian Elliott. My bold prediction is that Fletcher’s Flyers will find a way into the 2020 NHL playoffs. Under Alain Vigneault, Philadelphia’s defense will improve with a serious starting goalie of the future.

Current Flyers head coach, Alain Vigneault

The “two heads are better that one” philosophy is one that I think will work out in favor of the Philadelphia Flyers. Chuck Fletcher and Paul Holmgren want what is best for the Flyers organization. They will turn down the volume on bad contracts to underproductive players and simplify trades for picks or players in seasons to come. We all have to walk into this in good faith because while Holmgren built Philadelphia to seem strong on paper, Fletcher will keep the Flyers strong for years to come and improve on his ability to seek and draft prospects. With Fletcher above Holmgren, Philadelphia seems ready to be ahead of the player prospect curve instead of constantly trying to keep up or fall behind.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Eric is a University of Delaware graduate with a degree in English. While in school, he began writing for different publications such as The Highlight Network, Amps and Greenscreens, and he did color commentary for the University of Delaware Men’s and Women’s lacrosse teams throughout the 2013 season as an alumni. Prior to being featured with Philly Sports Network, he began a pro-wrestling podcast with a childhood friend called the Totally Over Podcast. As an avid sports die-hard for all things Philadelphia, Eric is also a proud supporter of West Virginia University.

4 thoughts on “Reliving the past to understand the new Flyers front office direction

  1. Any GM can build a team by overpaying free agents. Ryan Suter and Zack Paris are now a disaster in the making for Minnesota. Charles Fletcher, the Wild GM that overpaid these two player and gave them way too many years, is gone but Parise and Suter are dragging the Wild into cap hell. Both had to be protected in the Vegas expansion draft and will have to be protected in the Seattle expansion draft. OUCH! By the way, the Wild never got past the first round of the playoffs under Fletcher. Worst part of Fletcher coming to Philly? He repeats his free agent giveaway by overpaying Kevin Hayes and yes, gives Hayes a no movement clause too. Wait until Flyer fans realize that protecting Hayes will mean one of the Flyer’s really good young players will be lost, as the mediocre Hayes has to be protected. DOUBLE OUCH!

    The best thing that could happen to the Flyers right now is for Chuck Fletcher to give up his GM position with the Flyers and remain as team president. Holmgren should be quietly put out to pasture and allowed to disappear. Two great general manager candidates are available to replace Fletcher. Dave Poulin and Bill Zito. Either would be perfect to carry on phase two of what Ron Hextall was building: a young, dynamic team, capable of remaking on top, by replacing aging overpaid players with great drafting. Hextall was almost there as the youth is beginning to blossom. He needed a couple more years. Hextall May have been fired for reasons we know little about, but the man knew how to draft and his prospects are now arriving. I believe Poulin, or Zito would be just as talented building with youth, rather than the free agent route. Look at what Kevin Hayes did to the Flyers cap space and you can see Fletcher made a huge mistake, just as he did in Minnesota.

    So there you have it. More mediocrity if Fletcher keeps his GM position, or a more talented team builder if Dave Poulin, or Bill Zito got the Flyer GM position. Either would be a major upgrade to Fletcher.

  2. The wild didn’t make it to the playoffs this past season and have regressed ever since 2012. From 08 to 12 they missed the playoffs, 2012-13 went to the conference quarterfinals losing to the blackhawks, 13-14 and 14-15 seasons lost in 2nd round then 3 straight years of out in the 1st round winning 4 games in 3 series before this past season missing all together.
    Fletch gave those 14 year contracts with full NMC when the players were 27 and 28 respectively which how could anyone justify having a combined cap hit of 15 mil into a players early 40s! Parise put up 45, 38, 3 (played 13 games in 10-11) then 31 goals in his seasons leading to free agency. Hayes is a 40-41 point player at 27 years old getting 7.1 per with too many years and of course the obligatory full NMC.
    My long winded point is that using fletchers time in minny is not a great choice. Minny has a old team with contracts that’ll hamper their crappy cap situation for another 7 years or so and aren’t competitive as well as they don’t have a farm system like the flyers to pull or trade from. Middle of the league at best

  3. Another great article by Eric Reese. From the heart, with the art of factual story lines.. Always a pleasure to read

    1. Thank you yokes you read my mind, is that what the flyers want to be?! The Minnesota wild of the east lol…that’s not a good thing. Hopefully Fletch can do what his predecessor could not, trade Giroux and get a decent package in return. I know some people love Claude but he’s not taking this team to the promise land, unless he has studs around him and he doesn’t he has jvr lol. This team has no heart and lacks skills in the important areas, such as playing defense as a team. Carter Hart is supposed to be good but is he actually going to pan out. This team needs a lot and people can talk about the farm all they want but we’ve been talking about the farm for a while when is it time to move those great farm guys for players who actually produce on the NHL level…

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