Flyers: Dawn of Camp Brings Different Feel for Franchise’s Progress
As training camp begins for the Flyers on Thursday, the entire roster of NHL hopefuls is healthy. That’s already a stark difference from last season, when the team had already learned of significant injury news before even taking the ice.
There was also the ongoing lack of a sense of direction that carried on for a majority of the season. For a team that banked on hope as a plan, there was very little of it among the Flyers faithful.
That’s also a different story as training camp begins this season. There is hope that the team is on the right path. And while patience is the name of the game in a rebuild, a successful offseason has paved the way for a season that could be filled with progress, even if the results are not quite there.
The biggest changes for the Flyers were made at the highest levels. It was the presence of Dan Hilferty, representing Comcast and ownership and helping return elements of tradition that had been removed. It was Keith Jones, the new President of Hockey Operations, serving as the leader of the rebuild on and off the ice. It’s Danny Briere, the beloved former Flyer who has put his focus into rebuilding the roster, and starting his tenure off with a trade to get back into the first round of the draft and a swing for the fences in selecting Matvei Michkov.
And that’s where many returning faces come into the equation. For as much as the Flyers did in the offseason off the ice, the real work was always going to happen once the players took the ice.
A rebuild can only come complete as the results start to filter in. In the weeks that followed Briere’s promotion to GM on an interim basis and the final games were played, there was a greater emergence from players like Noah Cates, Owen Tippett, and Morgan Frost. Travis Konecny reached the 30-goal mark. There was finally a sense that the team could move forward.
But those few fleeting moments at the end of last season are only as good as the next act. How does Tippett follow-up his red-hot finish to the season? Can Frost find the consistency needed to be a quality NHL player? Does Konecny have a repeat performance in him? Does Cates’ game evolve further to include even more offense?
While those questions are being answered, the team is also looking for this season’s version of those players. What could Tyson Foerster do with a full season at the NHL level? Can Ronnie Attard, Egor Zamula, Emil Andrae, or Adam Ginning establish a place on a crowded blue line?
While the results remain to be seen, there is hope that the groundwork has already been laid. And this is hope that is already present before the team’s top two forward prospects – Cutter Gauthier and Michkov, ever even sign with the team.
Briere said earlier in the week that success this season is not going to be defined in a win-loss record or points total. It will be in the development of these players. It will be in how the culture is being rebuilt within the organization.
John Tortorella remains the leader in that cause. The players will dictate how big the step is towards completing the rebuild. Again, patience will be needed, especially in the first full season of a true commitment to the necessary rebuild taking place.
It may be a long road to get to the final destination, but the Flyers finally have their wheels on the track and are moving forward. That, at the very least, should create more of a buzz around the team and a greater sense of hope that the right people are in place to lead the charge.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN. Follow him on social media @Kevin_Durso.
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