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Flyers. Canadiens. Blackhawks. Even NHL stragglers can find a happy place

There are better times ahead for the Philadelphia Flyers, who made the smart play by leaning into a full rebuild, Dave Poulin writes.There are better times ahead for the Philadelphia Flyers, who made the smart play by leaning into a full rebuild, Dave Poulin writes.

Within the technique of changing basic supervisor Chuck Fletcher with Danny Brière, the Philadelphia Flyers formally joined the NHL’s Blissful Membership.

The value of membership is excessive: short-term disappointment, frustration, missed alternatives, typically a dose of dangerous luck. However when you acknowledge the truth of the scenario, it’s really a reduction. Membership is usually an essential stage in reaching success.

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Step one, which Brière took in his introductory press convention, is choosing the right R-word: rebuild — somewhat than retool or reload or restructure, which might counsel one thing in need of the overall teardown required to revive the proud franchise.

A number of dropping groups are additionally in a contented place as a result of they’ve reached the identical conclusion because the Flyers. They’ve accepted actuality and are decided to do one thing about it by trying to construct from the bottom up — in a 12 months when one fortunate member of the membership simply may speed up the method by successful the Connor Bedard lottery.

This isn’t a brand new phenomenon, but it surely’s been magnified within the period of the laborious wage cap. Committing to a rebuild is a troublesome selection. Purchase-in throughout the board is essential.

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This struck me lately in Chicago, as I watched a really upbeat game-day press convention that includes Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson. My TSN producer and I marvelled on the tone of the questions and solutions. The group was mired on the backside of the standings, had simply traded away famous person Patrick Kane — the defining participant on three Stanley Cup champions — and their lineup that night was removed from elite. But the temper was buoyant.

I lined the Hawks throughout the lean years earlier than the arrival of Kane and Jonathan Toews and it was completely different then. Apathetic followers turned away, the constructing was usually lower than a 3rd full and the temper was despondent. In the present day, they’ve a plan in place and the longer term seems brighter. Their technique is not any secret, giving the fan base an opportunity to know what the entrance workplace is pondering and get on board.

Two present powerhouses, in the meantime, solely required temporary stops within the Blissful Membership, for various causes.

Underneath group president Brendan Shanahan, the Maple Leafs began down this street with a regime change in 2014 and a declaration one 12 months later by head coach Mike Babcock: “There may be ache coming.” That proved to be true, but it surely didn’t final lengthy — a minimum of not within the common season. The Leafs received the lottery and drafted Auston Matthews in 2016. The next 12 months — with a youthful core of Matthews, Morgan Rielly, William Nylander and Mitch Marner — expectations soared after a spirited first-round playoff battle with the Washington Capitals. However that six-game defeat has been adopted by extra playoff ache regardless of regular-season success. In some way pleased isn’t a phrase used usually any extra within the land of blue and white.

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One other group that sauntered by way of this stage was the New York Rangers. In 2018, GM Jeff Gorton’s intention to take a step again with the intention to get higher couldn’t have been extra clear — spelled out in a letter to season-ticket holders. It labored. The response was a collective shrug of the shoulders earlier than the Rangers accelerated the tempo of the rebuild with lottery success of their very own, plus the acquisition of ahead Artemi Panarin and defenceman Adam Fox, who selected New York as their excellent vacation spot. Earlier than most diehard followers may even course of what was taking place, the group was again to firing coaches and successful playoff collection.

The Montreal Canadiens, a group I’m round rather a lot, have been rebuilding for the previous season and a half. After a stunning run to the Cup remaining with a veteran lineup in 2021, issues plummeted shortly. A administration change launched Gorton and Kent Hughes to the manager suite, whereas Martin St. Louis (teaching youth hockey in Connecticut on the time) was a brazen rent behind the bench. The roster turnover started instantly, and the route ahead was properly deliberate and accepted. Whereas issues have but to alter for the higher by way of wins and losses, the Canadiens are clearly bettering on the ice, the Bell Centre is loud and a imaginative and prescient of what could also be, with a system chock filled with gifted prospects within the pipeline, is starting to take form.

The proof suggests short-term ache, accepted with a smile, can repay within the NHL. In reality, for some groups it could be a necessity. My recommendation to the Flyers’ devoted is to buckle up and benefit from the journey.


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