For a franchise parched from thirst after 38 years without a drink from the Stanley Cup, the Flyers somehow remain a prime destination for available players. Whether it’s their renowned fan base, their reputation as a club that plays with passion or simply the fact they have never shied away from handing out mammoth contracts, playing for the Orange and Black is hard to pass up.
Never did that seem more true than listening to the newest Flyers, mainly Vinny Lecavalier, Mark Streit and Ray Emery, extol the virtues of a team that missed the playoffs this past season. They point to the “weirdness” of a lockout-shortened season, coupled with a rash of injuries as justification for the 2013 Flyers’ demise.
“Playing with the Islanders, it’s so tough to play in this building,” said the 35-year-old Streit, who thinks the fact he didn’t start his NHL career until he was 28 means there’s less wear and tear on his body. “They were always so physical and skilled. It’s a great hockey town with great tradition. The most important thing I looked for was a team that wanted to win. They already have a good team and made some additions.”
So is Lecavalier, who met with a number of teams after Tampa Bay bought out the remaining seven years on his contract, but quickly moved Philadelphia to the top.
“I talked to Simon Gagne and other players,” said Lecavalier, who pretty much made up his mind to come here prior to the NHL Draft. “I did my homework. Everyone had good things to say. This is a first class organization. Expectations are high here; people really like to play here and are excited about wearing this jersey.”
Emery, who credits the Flyers in helping him find the right surgery to fix his hip, said he’s thrilled to have a second chance.
“The first time I cam here I was super excited, like I am now,” said the 30-year-old goaltender. “I kept my relationships within the team, knowing how classy the organization and how passionate Mr. Snider is.”
How special all that affection and admiration translates out on the ice, though, is really all that matters.
“You can make excuses, but the bottom line is we didn’t make the playoffs,” said owner Ed Snider, “but with the three guys sitting at this table, I’m as excited as I’ve been in many years. I go into every season optimistic, but you don’t add three terrific players like these without getting better. We’re better and I’m expecting big things this season.”