An open letter to Paul Holmgren II

Hey Paul,

I hope you’re doing well.

Did you get my last letter? I understand if you haven’t had time to read it. After all, you’ve been a busy man.

I’m writing you again today to express another concern of mine.

In recent years, you’ve made Scottie Upshall cry, shocked R.J. Umberger, broke Simon Gagne’s heart, saw Nikolay Zherdev escape giddily after being waived, and sent Jeff Carter into seclusion. Including Joffrey Lupul, you’ve signed three players to significant deals and traded them before the no-trade clause kicked in. You also shipped out at least that many players who were committed to finish their careers here, two of which signed cap-friendly, career-long deals.

Even if there is no truth to this story, you are now the guy who reassured Carter that he would not be traded while you were working out a deal to ship him to Columbus.

I understand that hockey is a business but you are treating players like it’s the housing market before it collapsed.

For all that it matters, you might as well have punched Gagne’s newborn baby, Lily Rose, in the face. It’s possible that the way players now perceive you might not get much worse.

Despite all of the positive things that you do, this is the perception you are creating and the legacy you may be leaving.

Historically speaking, the Flyers are known as an organization that treats its players extremely well. Often, many former players refer to the Flyers as “family” and stick around Philadelphia to either work for the team or just to be nearby.

This welcoming environment was something that helped to lure big name free agents to Philadelphia and convinced marquee players to remain in the city. It’s essential to continue with this tradition.

People want to be treated with respect and the idea of being part of a “family” is an alluring one to players who are separated from their own significant others, children, and relatives for so long every year.

Players want to feel like like they can trust the coaches and management so that they can focus on what’s important: the game on the ice.

The reputation of the organization has been sullied over the last few years and it is important that you do damage control now to repair that image and rebuild a culture of trust and respect. Be proactive about resolving this issue before it becomes a problem when the contracts expire on players like Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk.

This is not something you want to come back to haunt you, especially because we saw the emotion in your eyes and in your voice when you were asked about your feelings towards the two players who we presumed were going to be the faces of the franchise for more years to come.

We know you didn’t act alone, but as the point person for all the praise and criticism, it is in your best interest to put out this fire before it spreads.

  • Parker

    Carter-haters have always been around. A sniper is an acquired taste. I for one will miss him. Last year we has so few SOG every game, it was nice to have one guy who wasn’t afraid to throw the puck on net (even if it was a frisbee shot into the goalie’s chest).

    I like this post because I think you bring up a good point about how these deals don’t just impact the players who were dealt, but also prospective future players who may consider signing with the Flyers.

    Stamkos is longer than a long shot anyway, but I’m sure he can’t be thinking favorably about the team that just dealt away two of their most productive and dedicated players (one of which being the captain).

    Well written friend. This is easily my favorite Flyers blog!

    • http://flyersfaithful.com Marcello D

      Thank you, Parker.

      I am doing an interview with a TB writer about both Stamkos and Gagne to get a little more clarity on those situations. That should hopefully be up in the next few days.

  • Parker

    Carter-haters have always been around. A sniper is an acquired taste. I for one will miss him. Last year we has so few SOG every game, it was nice to have one guy who wasn’t afraid to throw the puck on net (even if it was a frisbee shot into the goalie’s chest).

    I like this post because I think you bring up a good point about how these deals don’t just impact the players who were dealt, but also prospective future players who may consider signing with the Flyers.

    Stamkos is longer than a long shot anyway, but I’m sure he can’t be thinking favorably about the team that just dealt away two of their most productive and dedicated players (one of which being the captain).

    Well written friend. This is easily my favorite Flyers blog!

    • http://flyersfaithful.com Marcello D

      Thank you, Parker.

      I am doing an interview with a TB writer about both Stamkos and Gagne to get a little more clarity on those situations. That should hopefully be up in the next few days.

  • sonny lusch

    I don’t know what to think until the Flyers-friendly media in this city tells me!

    You’re doing a heck of a job, Homey!

  • sonny lusch

    I don’t know what to think until the Flyers-friendly media in this city tells me!

    You’re doing a heck of a job, Homey!

  • VorAbaddon

    I honestly agree wholeheartedly, and I posit this: When was the last time the Flyers hefted the Cup? ’75.

    If the Flyers are a business and they’re in the business of winning the Cup, why is it that we’ve been buying tickets for nigh on 40 years now, in droves? Why are we consistently a large market? Because the team, as a whole, has a chance? Maybe…

    But then why is Jeremy Roenick so fondly remember, he never hefted the Cup period, let alone here. Rod the Bod got traded, then we had to watch him hoist the Chalice of Chalices in another city. Why is Rechhi still Rex in Philly?

    Why do we still recall Brian Propp? Tim Kerr? Lappy (Who is effectively done, sad to say)? Why does the roof burst off whenever Ron Hextall enters the building?

    Because the business of hockey is NOT winning the Cup. That’s the goal. That’s the endgame. It’s the carrot on the stick. But what pays the bills are the love of the sport of the fans. Our tickets, our jerseys. Those of us who cling to our recent jerseys and those who still have an Esche and wear it proudly.

    The TEAM, and it’s players, are what matter. That is what makes a successful business venture out of a team. That’s why some random CHL team this year won a Cup, and then disbanded.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the Cup. But if you told me winning the Cup meant tearing the team apart right before that season for a bunch of players I never heard of and had no connection to, then it would be blown up afterward for an entirely different crew… would we care as much?

    Never forget that it was the players of the 70′s bonding with Philadelphia, doing charity events, hanging out in local bars, buying fans rounds that made those Cups the best thing ever. If the team isn’t worth having, then it’s not worth winning.

    • ANdrew

      Well said and I agree. I’m reserving final judgement until I see what the team on the ice looks like on Game 1 of the season. I also agree with the article. I think this was more Snider than Homer. Maybe Snider lost all sense of sentimentality when they tore down the Spectrum (RIP). But Homer is the GM and needs to set the proper tone for this organizations dealings with Players and fans alike.

  • VorAbaddon

    I honestly agree wholeheartedly, and I posit this: When was the last time the Flyers hefted the Cup? ’75.

    If the Flyers are a business and they’re in the business of winning the Cup, why is it that we’ve been buying tickets for nigh on 40 years now, in droves? Why are we consistently a large market? Because the team, as a whole, has a chance? Maybe…

    But then why is Jeremy Roenick so fondly remember, he never hefted the Cup period, let alone here. Rod the Bod got traded, then we had to watch him hoist the Chalice of Chalices in another city. Why is Rechhi still Rex in Philly?

    Why do we still recall Brian Propp? Tim Kerr? Lappy (Who is effectively done, sad to say)? Why does the roof burst off whenever Ron Hextall enters the building?

    Because the business of hockey is NOT winning the Cup. That’s the goal. That’s the endgame. It’s the carrot on the stick. But what pays the bills are the love of the sport of the fans. Our tickets, our jerseys. Those of us who cling to our recent jerseys and those who still have an Esche and wear it proudly.

    The TEAM, and it’s players, are what matter. That is what makes a successful business venture out of a team. That’s why some random CHL team this year won a Cup, and then disbanded.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the Cup. But if you told me winning the Cup meant tearing the team apart right before that season for a bunch of players I never heard of and had no connection to, then it would be blown up afterward for an entirely different crew… would we care as much?

    Never forget that it was the players of the 70′s bonding with Philadelphia, doing charity events, hanging out in local bars, buying fans rounds that made those Cups the best thing ever. If the team isn’t worth having, then it’s not worth winning.

    • ANdrew

      Well said and I agree. I’m reserving final judgement until I see what the team on the ice looks like on Game 1 of the season. I also agree with the article. I think this was more Snider than Homer. Maybe Snider lost all sense of sentimentality when they tore down the Spectrum (RIP). But Homer is the GM and needs to set the proper tone for this organizations dealings with Players and fans alike.

  • http://flyersfaithful.com frick

    I agree. I posted some similar thoughts on Twitter. If this is how you treat guys that signed long-term deals for less money than they would have gotten on the open market (with all likelihood) and then you trade them, why would JVR or Giroux (just examplees) be willing to take a monetary hit when there is a chance they will get traded to Florida (also just an example)? Why would anyone believe you when you say they are not being traded? I think you lose a little something with that.

    With Carter/Holmgren, Holmgren has more to lose in this situation. Did Carter handle his situation well? No, but what does he lose by doing so? At worst, he gets labeled as a “problem” and passed around a little, but so what? He is one player. At best, people forget and he plays well in Columbus and everyone loves him. Holmgren might be losing trust with current and possible future players and agents. That affects a lot more people and the team down the road.

    Now, it’s possible that this is “just business” and players will recognize this. But it’s also possible that players will tread lightly when dealing with Holmgren in the future.

  • http://flyersfaithful.com frick

    I agree. I posted some similar thoughts on Twitter. If this is how you treat guys that signed long-term deals for less money than they would have gotten on the open market (with all likelihood) and then you trade them, why would JVR or Giroux (just examplees) be willing to take a monetary hit when there is a chance they will get traded to Florida (also just an example)? Why would anyone believe you when you say they are not being traded? I think you lose a little something with that.

    With Carter/Holmgren, Holmgren has more to lose in this situation. Did Carter handle his situation well? No, but what does he lose by doing so? At worst, he gets labeled as a “problem” and passed around a little, but so what? He is one player. At best, people forget and he plays well in Columbus and everyone loves him. Holmgren might be losing trust with current and possible future players and agents. That affects a lot more people and the team down the road.

    Now, it’s possible that this is “just business” and players will recognize this. But it’s also possible that players will tread lightly when dealing with Holmgren in the future.