a classic photo.
the right, a toothless, diabetic, undersized
center smiles perhaps as large as he ever
scruffy, broad-shouldered goalie to the
left grins equally as large. Between them,
they carry a glistening silver trophy,
which reflects their expressions of wonder.
a classic photo.
it was the first of two Stanley Cups for
Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent and the Flyers
maybe because it's been so long since
another one of those trophies has been
captured by the Flyers' numerous players
with similar or greater talent levels
than that team of the 70's have gone through
the Flyers' system since. And all have
failed to deliver another cup.
a new classic image of orange and black
jerseys surrounding a silver trophy could
be created next summer thanks again to
Clarke, the team's general manager.
as he skated through larger players and
battled through adversity to become a
hall of fame player, Clarke has found
a way to have another -- maybe his best
--off-season despite the implementation
of an NHL salary cap. Clarke brings in
great free agents every year, but this
year he has brought in two who are among
the best in their positions and have guided
teams to Stanley Cups in the past. They
haven't just happened to be on great teams.
They have made their teams great.
Forsberg represents for his native Sweden
on the World team at the NHL All-Star
Peter Forsberg's numbers are prolific,
he dominates games in ways that can't
be measured on stat sheets. The two-time
Stanley Cup winner and former league MVP
is a gritty, smart, center who is a phenomenal
passer and a clutch scorer. He has 741
points in 580 games including 216 goals
and 525 assists. He also protects the
puck as well or better than anyone in
the league along the boards, meaning he
never coughs it up.
he plays great defense in front of his
own net. And if he steals the puck, he
has the ability to transition the other
way quickly either by skating with it
or by making a good, crisp outlet pass
to an open teammate. Most players don't
have his vision or his ability to take
has had injury problems in the past. He
recently had a nagging groin injury and
has had shoulder problems, but a year
off should have done him well. The beginning
of Forsberg's career as a Flyer (10 years
after they drafted him) meant the end
of Jeremy Roenick's time in orange and
black. Roenick is a talented, tough, vocal
leader. But he's not on the same level
might hurt to see him go, but in the end
the Flyers will be a better team. Forsberg,
32, is three years younger. He's quieter,
but leads more by example. The Swede is
also more muscular and much more experienced
in winning big games. And dominating them.
Hatcher levels a New Jersey Devil
major pick-up was Derian Hatcher, who
led the Dallas Stars to a Stanley Cup
in 1999 when current Flyers coach Ken
Hitchcock was at the helm. Hatcher, 6'5''
and 235 pounds, is physical and moves
the puck well in transition. He plays
hungry and aggressive, but at the same
time he's not a liability.
are some positions that are still sketchy
on the team. Goalie Robert Esche still
isn't an elite goalie even if he did help
the team go to within one game of the
Stanley Cup finals in the 2003-2004 season.
He's the product of a good system. There's
no way he'd be as good on a team with
less talent and defensive discipline.
Niittymaki, who won the Calder Cup
the Philadelphia Phantoms this season,
has much more raw talent than Esche. The
acrobatic goalie is quicker and more athletic
and that will be key with the new NHL
rules, which include a reduction in the
size of goalie pads and a limit to where
they can roam outside the net.
Desjardins is also becoming a liability.
He has been such a great player and has
given so much, but time is ticking on
solid goaltending and good luck in the
health department, the Flyers will have
a great chance to hoist the cup again.
And the main one responsible for the cup
would be the same person who led the team
to the last two. But the team will have
to dedicate themselves to winning it just
as Parent and the rest of the Flyers did
in the 70's. At least players on this
year's team know how to.