Before I begin, I want to take this opportunity to say how excited I am to join the Flyers Faithful family. I’m looking forward to talking all things Flyers hockey, and I welcome any and all feedback in any fashion you might see fit.
Simply put, my goal here is to dive deep into all the things that make this team tick on a daily basis and provide as much insight as I can. Care to join me?
I would like to quickly offer this lone disclaimer: just as there is no “right” way to win a Cup, there are going to be few “right” answers to many of the things that this team will face on a daily basis. Agree or disagree with me all you want, in my eyes there are very few things that are truly right or wrong. I challenge everyone to do their own research and draw their own opinions, hoping greatly that the end result is an influx of uniquely passionate and informative perspectives to be shared and enjoyed by all. Flyers fans are the best, and I’m looking forward to joining everyone for what will surely be yet another wild ride — so let’s talk hockey.
It’s only right to start this endeavor by breaking down one of the biggest moves for the Flyers this offseason, though a lot has changed since then.
When the Flyers traded for Luke Schenn, I personally was a bit disappointed for a number of reasons. I meant no disrespect to the hulking defenseman with high-end upside, but it felt like the Flyers were losing a player whose numbers are consistent with a top-six forward without ever even getting a chance to establish himself in the lineup. Even more troublesome for me, it seemed the Flyers most trade-able asset was now gone, and forever eliminated from any future package for any future player.
This nightmare was revealed when, shortly after, the Flyers decided to offer sheet Shea Weber.
Whether or not this plan to offer sheet Weber was in place before the trade, the Flyers should have waited out the Weber situation before moving James van Riemsdyk. It is complete speculation, but having JVR might have been the tipping point in getting Nashville to accept a trade scenario. Instead, it seems the Flyers were left without any major assets that they were willing to trade, though they had just moved one in the days before. Even if it wouldn’t have made a difference, why rush and forgo the chance to find out?
In the end, it should be OK for the Flyers. This team is built to absorb the loss of a dynamic player like JVR, especially since he was never able to truly establish himself within the lineup primarily due to injury in the first place. There was a wealth of expendable offense for the front office to work with, and they’ve used it as they see fit. Even with my disagreement, the end result has yielded the team a defenseman capable of doing great things for them for many years to come. There is serious upside here.
So how can Luke tap that potential and be successful in Philly now that he has joined the dark side? I think he needs to embrace it and every new challenge this trade presents to him, almost as if he’s a rookie all over again. Lucky for Luke, he will find a lot to embrace in Philadelphia.
First and foremost, he still has time in the offseason to get acclimated to the area and should have ample time to figure out a routine that will work for him heading into the season. By finding out his fate so early on, he can use his brother has a crutch to really familiarize himself with all things Flyers to the extent that training camp might not be so foreign. It can only help his development to be as comfortable as possible before the rush of camp, and I fully expect him to do so.
While learning to embrace a fresh organizational perspective, Schenn can also stand to greatly benefit from a fresh perspective on his game. Over his relatively short career, the young rearguard has probably really only received intense instructive criticism from one viewpoint — that of the Leafs. And well folks, they’re the Leafs; needless to say, there is probably room for improvement.
He should be soaking up every piece of advice like a sponge, anxious to rectify some of the issues that have plagued him in the past from some coaches he’s never really worked with before. In particular, I hope he utilizes the direct connection he now has with his idol, Chris Pronger. There is no doubt the Flyers brass would be eager for Schenn to do everything he can to frame his game in a similar fashion, and he will have the best mold from which to work — Pronger himself.
As far as specifics, he needs to focus on increasing his foot speed as much as possible, maybe looking to his brother for a bit of inspiration (and perspiration) in that department. If he can do this, it will do wonders in helping him simplify his game and help him in getting back in position after making a check or blocking a shot. With more foot speed, he creates more time for himself to both create plays and recover, which is crucial given how much he likes to commit to making hits all over the ice. Fans will embrace his physical play, but they will be relentless if it comes with a complete lack of positioning – finding that balance will be the difference in success or Gauthier. If he can increase his foot speed as he continues to develop his decision making with time and experience, he will find himself rising up the Flyers depth chart on the back end rather quickly.
When Schenn broke into the league, it appeared the sky was the limit. The sheer unknown of that tricky thing called potential made him the center of attention for many during several otherwise forgettable Leafs’ seasons. With the Flyers, he’s just another baby-faced player in a baby-faced locker room crowd, stocked with plenty of experience and ample talent. He isn’t the face of the franchise, and is only expected to stand out on an occasional highlight reel hit. Soon he will be able to compare the two experiences, hopefully gaining insight into what makes him perform at his best in the process, but for now he will have plenty of different opportunities to take his game to new levels. Having family, a childhood idol, and an elite organization suddenly at your expense can do that for a budding defenseman.
Find me on twitter: @marcs797