It all started innocently enough. On August 20, ESPN Hockey aficionado John Buccigross tweeted the following: “No owner loves being an NHL owner or is more generous/loyal to his players than Ed Snider. CBA has not expired yet. Playing by rules.”
Buccigross is referring to the Flyers re-signing of Scott Hartnell to a six-year extension. Things in Philadelphia are good. The Flyers are playing by the rules, but they are taking advantage of the rules while they still exist.
The Flyers taking advantage of those moves and Buccigross’ comment did not sit well with a good friend of mine. We’ll call him “TheeRose.” TheeRose is a hockey guy. He knows it, he plays it, and he breathes it. TheeRose was not willing to let that comment go without something being said.
What started as Twitter bantering back and forth about Buccigross’ comment turned into multiple page emails. TheeRose’s point was simple and to the point: How can Ed Snider be considered the most loyal and generous when the Flyers have a history of signing players to long-term deals and then trading them before said player’s no-trade clause kicks in?
In the words of the now-departed Strother Martin in “Cool Hand Luke,”, “What we’ve got here is…failure to communicate. Some men you just can’t reach…”
TheeRose and I went back and forth debating the perceived lack of loyalty to former players. The point that I often explained was that it was not Snider’s decision to make the trades. Those decisions came from General Manager Paul Holmgren. Snider’s decisions came from identifying young players and wanting to keep them in town. Furthermore, Snider would have the ultimate say in trading a player (after all, he does sign the checks), but he often defers to his management team.
TheeRose then decided that enough was enough. He had called me out for being something I normally was not.
“Don’t start turning ‘homer’ on me. You never have before, which is something rare in the Philly sports media. You have had a great outlook on the league as a whole.”
I couldn’t argue with my friend. He had called me out on defending the practices of the Flyers. In my defense, it is hard to cover a team — a team that I grew up loving — and not having a little bias. What I did argue to Mr. TheeRose was that each organization needs to make their team as they see fit. The Flyers have made, re-made, and retooled their team numerous times over the last few years. If my defense of John Buccigross’ comment of praising Ed Snider is offbase, then so be it. But, that will not stop me from praising or criticizing the Flyers moves.
TheeRose and I decided to finish our debate on the golf course, where those conversations cannot (and should not) be conveyed into a blog post…