Thursday, June 08, 2006

I Digress

It hardly comes as a surprise that the owner of the Flyers and GM of the Sixers have both announced in the last few weeks they are going to implement changes in the way their respective dysfunctional teams do business. Unfortunately, the solutions they propose will not work for the oldest reason in the book: they are the problem.

The Sixers’ Billy King indicated he would take a more hands-on approach in the coming season. That should come as particularly bad news to local basketball fans as they ponder the implications of King’s statements. If anything, his apparently hands-off approach of the last few seasons has produced a revolving door in the coach’s office and more than a few terrible trades and signings in his own. Last year the Sixers failed to make the playoffs despite King’s maneuvers of the previous few seasons. What can they expect from him when he puts his mind and hands to the task going forward? Not much.

As for the Flyers, owner Ed Snider has made it clear his team is no longer going to mortgage the future by trading away youngsters for old-timers. The Flyers’ future-is-now approach of the last several seasons has yielded an older, slower team that somehow reached the playoffs this past year only to make a quick, expected exit. A list of the disastrous Faustian bargains the Flyers made are included in a piece by Tim Panaccio in today’s Inquirer. It is a long and sorry one.

Panaccio also notes a number of Flyers front office people have departed recently, some of their own accord but not all. The sad truth is the biggest personnel problem remains GM Bob Clarke, the architect of all those terrible deals. Clarke never met a bruiser he didn’t want instead of a speedster. Nor has any GM ever been more enamored of players who had great track records against the Flyers. Clarke also likes to reacquire people he’s already traded, perhaps the most telling argument against his judgment.

Snider’s loyalty to Clarke is now 30 plus years in the making, a debt that has been paid in full many times over. As long as he holds on to his former star player, the change in direction Snider boldly announced will remain well off course.


Jeff Martin said...

Well said on both accounts, TG. As more of a Flyers fan than anything (even Phils and Eagles, shame on me), I couldn't agree with you more about Clarkie. It takes a statement worded like yours to make people stand up and recognize the problem with Clarke as GM, because it's not the angry rantings of Bob from South Philly on WIP.

It hurts me especially to see guys like Brind'Amour, Recchi, and Justin Williams poised to win a Cup. Especially Williams, who was a young, fast guy that we traded for Keith Primeau. The experiment worked well for us for a while, but in the new NHL, who would you rather have, more guys like Gagne or more guys like Prims? Even so, those three guys deserve it.

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

I have always remembered the time he traded Brian Propp and Dave Poulin to get Ken Linesman back. To this day, that trade took away some of the love I had for the Flyers organization. It took me years to get that love back.

He traded two very good and still very serviceable players to bring back one of those bruiser old school Flyers guys. And the team tanked while Propp and Poulin went to the cup finals with Boston.

And Billy King saying he wants to be more hands on... Lord help us. He's killed us with the salary cap for years to come.

Matt said...

Steve -

I must point out here that Poulin and Propp were sent to the Bruins in two separate trades. Poulin was traded for Ken Linesman while Propp was traded away for a second round draft pick.

But then, of course, when Clarke became GM in Minnesota he signed Propp as a free agent. Also note that he brought him back to be the radio color man on Flyers' broadcasts.

Sorry, I'm way too much of a Propp fan. But I couldn't agree anymore with all 3 of you about Clarkie. He's gotta go.

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

I see your clarification. Thank you. But I remember those trades happening right on top of each other. So for what it's worth, they may as well have been combined. The Bruins got two great players off of us that year, and we got a very disappointing Ken Linesman that season.

I'm curious to know who that draft pick became.

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

I just looked it up.

Those trades were over a month apart. You are correct. But no trades happened between the two, so they were back to back in a way.

And that second round draft pick became Terran Sandwith. Yeah, never heard of him either.

Boston made out like bandits that season. It's probably one of the rare times the Bruins management pulled the wool over anyone's eyes. And they picked Clarkie.

Matt said...

Steve -

You have no idea. Propp was my favorite hockey player of all time (though I readily admit he's a horrible announcer). And yes, I was in the Spectrum the day he got his 1,000th point against the Flyers while wearing his #26 Hartford Whalers jersey.

Anyway, yeah, Clarkie. I keep saying I'm going to get around to doing a post-mortem on this past Flyers' season, but it all boils down to one thing: it's all Clarke's fault. Though, in his defense, Snider lets him get away with it.